What is knowledge?

A large majority of users within our customer organisations are intensive "knowledge users", often being in roles requiring deep specialist knowledge or access to knowledge in order to be able to carry out daily tasks.

So what is knowledge and how do you access knowledge? Good question, but not so easy to answer. Obviously there is a formal Oxford dictionary definition or less formal Wikipedia article defining this. However, they don't really cover the question in this context. What we use as a baseline definition is that anything that is derived through experience or research which may have value for reuse goes into the "knowledge bucket".

Naturally, this raises a number of other questions. What about knowledge inside the head (tacit knowledge) of employees? What about information from outside our organisation? Does it include media assets such as video or audio files? The single answer to all these is "yes." Every piece of knowledge that has value and which can be sourced, extracted and ingested belongs in your Knowledge Management (KM) area.

How is this done? Through hard work, lots of encouragement to share, standard processes, business policy and more. The technology piece is, in many ways, just an underlying tool, allowing you to collect and manage the actual assets.

The investment in "knowledge management software" (KMS) must therefore be weighed up against the hard facts; that the real legwork sits with the users. No matter how much budget you throw at software, it will not be a silver bullet that will extract knowledge from people's heads, USB sticks or local disk drives.

For organisations that are already committed to SharePoint as their preferred portal development technology, it therefore makes a lot of sense to look no further. It offers an excellent platform to build world-class and industry-leading knowledge systems.

How do you access knowledge?

Without going into too much detail, there are three pillars to accessing information in the systems we implement:

  • We "bubble up" information to users in the context they are in (e.g. we list "Relevant Know How" on a team's landing page)
  • You browse to the information through a "knowledge explorer"
  • You search for information through an enterprise search, or specialised Knowledge Search

How we do it

We will typically advise that a KMS project follows a path set out by ClearPeople's "KM accelerator" approach. The advantages are:

  • Well established approach to discovery and planning
  • Leveraging SharePoint out-of-the-box functionality as far as possible
  • Phased approach (Prototype, Pilot, Release 1) to reduce complexity and risk at defined milestone, while getting feedback at appropriate points

A successful project is achieved by paying serious attention to the initial Discovery and Planning stage. During this stage, the two single most important activities are:

  • Information Architecture design and planning
  • Taxonomy / classification / tagging strategy

Other activities during this stage include exploring current state, existing knowledge assets, asset transformation, migration, functional scope and much more.

How ClearPeople can help

Our KM approach is cost effective and requires little customisation, therefore greatly reducing the risk of failure and budget overrun. Contact us today to find out more.

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