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Building a Knowledge Management tool that lasts
Friday, 30th March 2012
What happens when you're asked to implement a knowledge management tool that everybody loves the sound of, but aren't prepared to put the effort into maintaining? That's right, you'll end up with an unloved and unwanted tool, that promised much but ultimately delivered little. So how should you approach the development of a knowledge management tool?
What happens when you're asked to implement a knowledge management tool that everybody loves the sound of, but aren't prepared to put the effort into maintaining? That's right, you'll end up with an unloved and unwanted tool, that promised much but ultimately delivered little.
So how should you approach the development of a knowledge management tool? Well, perhaps as suggested in this blog post you should "build it to last and built it to accommodate increased demands". Sounds simple doesn't it? In reality it's a lot harder than it sounds and means thinking about how your users are going to uncover content and know-how beyond the lifetime of the knowledge management tool you're building.
A good place to start is to look at your existing enterprise search tool if you have one. If you don't, enterprise search tools vendors like Recommind, Autonomy and Fast search for SharePoint should be your first stop. Why? Well a good enterprise search tool should be able to uncover "know what", "know who" and "know why" within an organisation. We're all used to using Google when we search for information outside our organisation, so an enterprise search tool should be used to replicate this inside an organisation. Once in place the enterprise search tool should provide a good platform with which you can encourage individuals to share know how and other content. This could be either with a formalised knowledge management tool or simply within an organisation's document management system. Either way an effective enterprise search tool is a great way to surface know how and other content that might otherwise remain hidden.
Once this is in place the blog posts suggest you should start looking at how you can improve knowledge sharing. There are number of ways to do this, but the author of the blog posts suggests starting to look at ways in which you can encourage knowledge sharing; that is knowledge sharing as part of someone's job. For example, wikis can be used in many different situations and for different purposes, but those that are successful are those used "in the flow". These enable people to do their day-to-day work in the wiki itself. Typically these wikis are replacing email, virtual team rooms, and project management systems.
Another suggestion is to remove any impediments that make it difficult to share knowledge. This might be that someone has to print off their piece of know how rather then submit it electronically. Or an individual has to remember to email a piece of content to a knowledge manager rather than use a process from within the application they've just been using to submit some know how. The last suggestion, and perhaps the most important, is to build an organisational culture that recognises that knowledge sharing and the organisation's knowledge are important, and rewards individuals for contributing know how. There are some good tips in this blog post and in the other resources I've listed below, which should help anyone who is considering implementing a knowledge management tool to get it right the first time.
By James Mullan
James Mullan has worked in the legal sector since 2001. He is an advocate of social media tools and has been talking about how these tools can be used by information professionals and organisations since 2005. James is currently BIALL President and in 2009 won the Wildy-BIALL Law Librarian of the year award for his use of social media tools. Outside of work James is a keen runner and maintains his own blog called "The Running Librarian" Follow James on Twitter @jamesmullan6, friend him on Facebook, or connect with him on LinkedIn.
James can be reached at email@example.com
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