3. Implementation phase (Deployment phase)
4. Maintenance & ‘measurement phase (Post-implementation phase)
Awakening Phase (Pre-implementation phase):
Review of organizational mission/vision statements for any KM initiatives to succeed, it has to be synchronized with the organizational vision.
Hence, it is a recommended practice to flag off the KM initiative by reviewing the organizational mission/vision and understands how a KM initiative can help the organization realize its objectives. The associated implementation scope can also be gauged.
In case an organization cannot establish a strong case for commencing a KM initiative, the plan should be outright abandoned.
Organizational mission statement The Mission Statement declares “why” an organization exists, and is the only foundation upon which a long- range strategic plan (the blueprint for carrying out the organization’s “business”) can be developed.
The long-range strategic plan, with its clearly stated and defensible programmed initiatives and their respective costs, allows for the creation of the financing plan.
This serves as the basis for specific fund-raising campaigns to secure annual, capital, endowment, sponsorship, and underwriting funds besides providing indicators of the expected revenue streams, and thus determining the organizational profitability, or the justification for its existence.
An effective mission statement must be in resonance with the people working in and for the organization, as well as with the different components of the external environment that the organization hopes to affect.
The mission statement must be symbolic of the organization’s purpose and should inspire commitment as well as innovation. It should include the following:
(a) The opportunities or needs that justify the organization’s existence or its purpose.
(b) The methods to be adopted to address these need (the business of the organization).
(c) The core organizational principles or beliefs or the values of the organization.
Organizational vision statement:
The vision statement presents a vivid description of the organization, as it effectively carries out its day to day operations. The vision depicts a compelling description of the state and function of the organization once it has implemented the strategic plan.
Developing a vision statement can be culture-specific, with methods ranging from highly analytical and rational to highly creative and divergent being employed. The vision statement also serves as a motivational tool for the organizational employees.
Organizational value Statement Values represent the core priorities in the organization’s culture, including what drives member’s priorities and how they truly act in the organization.
Values are increasingly important in strategic planning and they often drive the intent and direction within an organization.
It is a recommended practice to establish four to six core values from which the organization would like to operate.
This should include the values of customers, shareholders, employees, and the community. Any differences between the organization’s preferred values and its true values are actually reflected by members’ behaviors in the organization.
KM & business strategy – Linkage:
As discussed above, it is imperative that knowledge strategies need to be linked with the organization’s business strategy. Business strategy is usually decided at a high level and matches the goals and the mission of the organization as listed below.
System development always happens at a low level and requires features as opposed to abstractions, visions or business ideas. It requires the elevation of the KM system design to the level of business strategy and bringing strategy down to the level of systems design.
This reflects an organizational shift from strategic programming to strategic planning and heralds the onset of critical decision making within the organization based on the knowledge available internally as well as that available externally within the organization (external environment).
It also calls for the identification of knowledge gaps within the organization by performing a SWOT (Strength, Weakness, Opportunities and Threats) analysis.
The proposed system design should also take care of instantaneous needs of the organization in terms of knowledge availability to take instantaneous decisions.
The association of the business strategy with the KM design along with the implementation strategy will ensure that the objectives of the implementation are met and ensure the successful completion of the project while increasing the capital of the organization, both intellectual and financial.
Automatic pruning refers to the next stage after goal identification, that is, constraint recognition. For example, if the big question for the organization is “Flow do we increase profits?” knowing the constraints will help trim it down.
Identifying the objective i.e. the need to show an increase in profits within six months would help the organization narrow the focus of its efforts. This would also help to take into account other factors.
For example, the decision by the senior management not to recruit new staff or to reduce existing levels by 40% or the fact that the organization already has cornered 90 percent of the target customers in the market as their clients.
Combining these facts automatically prunes the goals and the original question. It now becomes “How do we increase profits within six months without hiring any new people or trying to get new customers?”
Infrastructural evaluation Infrastructural evaluation facilitates the understanding of the various components that constitute the KM framework.
Taking stock of organization’s resources facilitates the analysis and the subsequent identification of the critical information and knowledge gaps within the existing infrastructure.
This would enable the designers and developers to build upon the existing infrastructure. The components of the existing infrastructure that would form a part of the KM system need to be accurately identified and fixed.
Leveraging the existing infrastructure is logically, scientifically, rationally, theoretically, and financially the right approach. It would also facilitate the development of a system much faster and would also have better support from the management and the employees and would also enable a higher ROI.
Summarization and review:
The most important step before flagging off the KM effort is to summarize and review the information collected in the preceding stages and list down the major milestones and requirements as well as make a strong financial justification for the initiatives (expected investments versus returns). The following would be the list of some of the major considerations:
(a) Listing down specific areas of improvement
(b) Finalize the scope of implementation
(e) Investments required
(f) Expected ROI (including time period)
(g) Team Composition/Size
Actionable Phase (Design & Development):
The ideas or the thoughts generated in the first phase are given shape or substance during the second phase or the actionable phase. The second phase of KM implementation involves analysis, design, and development of the KM system. The five steps that constitute the phase are:
Organizational K-audit (Knowledge audit) A KM initiative should commence with an audit of the inherent organizational knowledge. The need for a knowledge audit must be clearly understood before beginning of knowledge analysis and audit. This has to be followed by the assembling of an audit team representing the various organizational units.
This team performs a preliminary assessment of knowledge assets within the organization to identify those that are both critical and the weakest. This would, involve the following processes:
(a) Identification of existing KM processes
(b) Appropriate audit method selection
(c) Organizational intrinsic knowledge audit and analysis
(d) Uncovering the organizational K-spot (knowledge gaps).
(e) Positioning K-system in tune with the K-spot
Team formulation The KM team would be responsible for designing, building, implementing, and deploying the organizations KM system.
The successful design of an effective KM team requires the identification of key stakeholders, both within and outside the organization, and the identification of sources of expertise that are needed to successfully design, build, and deploy systems while balancing the technical and managerial requirements.
The team has to manage diverse and often divergent stakeholder expectations and apply techniques for both identifying and avoiding critical failure points in such teams.
To ensure optimal usage of resources as well as ensure effective implementation, an organization should formulate a team which is roughly ten percent of the organizational size with involvement of the top management. The following are some of the key considerations:
(a) Identify key personnel within the organization i.e. stakeholders, management, and end users and understand and manage their expectations.
(b) Identify sources of requisite expertise and knowledge.
(c) Identify critical points of failure in terms of unsatisfied requirements, control, management or end users.
(d) The team should be balanced strategically and technologically to ensure optimal ROI.
(e) The technical and managerial expertise within the team should be well balanced with senior members contributing around 30 percent of the team size.
(f) Understand the role of a Chief Knowledge Officer and decide whether the organization, irrespective of the size, requires a CKO. This decision further requires an understanding of how a CKO relates to the CIO, CFO and CEO. In case the organization does not appoint a CKO, then an alternate person to handle the functions need to be identified.
(g) Categorize the responsibilities of the CKO or the knowledge manager, taking into account their backgrounds into consideration as well as the technological and organizational functions and their backgrounds.
Prior to deploying KM, the infrastructural components that constitute the system architecture must be identified. In tune with the trends in system design methodologies, the system development should follow a layered approach.
The existing infrastructural components within the organization should be seamlessly linked with the proposed layers. The system should be based on open standards to provide for portability as well as cross-platform compatibility.
Profiling mechanisms for push and pull based knowledge delivery must be created while balancing the cost versus value added for each additional enabling component.
The organizational K-print or the blueprint provides a plan for building and incrementally improving a KM system.
The layered architecture as discussed above must be specifically designed in the context of the organization’s requirement and should be optimized for performance and provide scalability as well as high levels of interoperability.
The components required by the organization: integrative repositories, content centers, knowledge aggregation and mining tools, the collaborative platform, knowledge directories, the user interface options, push delivery mechanisms, and integrative elements should be well understood before taking a decision on their usage.
This step Organizational Knowledge Management Architecture and Implementation integrates work from all preceding steps so that it culminates in a strategically oriented KM system design.
Once a blueprint for the KM system has been created, the next step involves the assembling of the working system. The choice of the internet rather than a proprietary collaborative platform can enable the organization intranet to function as a front end for the KM system.
Web-friendly document standards such as DMA (Document Management Alliance) and Web DMA allow the building of collaborative document systems that match industry standards.
The KM system at the backend will force a reorientation from client/ server architecture to an agent computing architecture. An organization may vastly benefit from the deployment of Enterprise Knowledge Repositories (EKR). This is discussed in the subsequent section.
Implementation Phase (Deployment Phase):
The third phase involves the process of deploying the KM system that was designed in the preceding stages. This phase generally involves two primary stages. The first stage involves the deployment of the system with a result driven incremental technique, more commonly known as the RDI method. This step also involves the selection and implementation of a pilot project to precede the introduction of a full-fledged KM system.
The next stages involve bringing about a cultural change; revised reward structures to create awareness and ensure commitment from the employees and ensure the desired ROI.
This forms one of the key steps that are critical to the acceptance and the consequent success of a KM system in any company.
A KM system must take into account the actual needs of its users. The flaws that might have crept into the system on account of human errors or misinterpretation of data or information assimilated as a part of the design can only be uncovered through a pilot deployment which would provide the ultimate reality check.
Knowledge sharing cannot be mandated, the sharing culture needs to be encouraged within the organization along with the employees support.
This also requires the integration of business processes with KM system and necessitates the use of a new reward structures that motivate employees to use the system and contribute to its infusion, growth and training. It requires enthusiastic leadership that sets an example to follow.
Maintenance and Measurement Phase (Post-Implementation Phase):
Once the system has been tested and deployed, the crucial process of measuring the returns of the effort as well as the process of measuring the business impact of KM needs to be taken up using a set of appropriate metrics. This includes
metrics to facilitate the calculation of Returns on Investment (ROI) for the KM investments as well as the usage of benchmarking techniques for deriving comparative knowledge metrics for the Organization.
Balanced Score Card (BSC) or Quality Function Deployment (QFD) techniques may be employed for creating strategic knowledge metrics after the due process of review.
Organizations have resorted to ill-suited and easily misused approaches, such as cost-benefit analysis, Net Present Value (NPV) evaluation and vague ROI measures.
The measurement system must account for both financial and competitive impacts of KM on the organization’s business.
Most of the organizations do not have an estimate of the knowledge that they possess for accomplishing work processes.
Bohn’s framework, adapted from and primarily built upon academic research literature, provides an excellent starting point for figuring out the current knowledge possessed by an organization.
This framework applies strictly to the type of knowledge used to produce goods and services but does cover almost all types of industries that are candidates for KM ranging from consulting (production of services based on knowledge) to software (production of information products based on knowledge), to hard- goods production (physical goods) and publishing (services and production).
This phase also includes the activities related to the maintenance of the various components of the KM system, including the backbone network architecture, operating systems, database services, warehouse and analytical services, mining rules and algorithms, updating of knowledge maps, directory services, process improvements and most importantly the physical as well as logical organizational knowledge repositories or the organizational knowledge base.
The maintenance phase also includes the planning as well as conduct of periodic knowledge audits to uncover fresh k-spots as well as ensure the proper and effective functioning of the system.
An organization, by virtue of having implemented a KM system, learns not to repeat mistakes and do things better in certain ways.
In a KM audit, one must concentrate on all the intangible assets and knowledge assets that exist within the organization including its rituals, processes, structure, communities, and people. The findings must then be documented.
Knowledge of knowledge assets is critical to the proper planning of a KM system and is a rich source of information about the strengths of the organization. The knowledge audit provides value to the organization when it is involved in the following activities.