One idea I’d like to discuss/research further is the possibility of starting out a KM project as an internal service. Much like you would hire an external consulting company to come in and provide you or your company a service. Is it possible to treat Knowledge Management as such? The main difference is that there is a certain group in your company that provides the KM consulting services instead of an external consulting organization.
One of the many problems with getting KM started in any company is that it is very difficult to properly quantify the the success of the KM staff and their contribution to the overall health of the company. I think that KM as a service could help to solve that problem.
By providing specific services to an internal group, with a defined scope, explicit responsibilities, and tangible KM deliverables it may be possible to begin to understand how much it costs a company to deliver those knowledge assets. Like any other professional service, you could track KM staff utilization, the mix of services that are offered vs what are ‘bought’, and the needed areas of expertise in knowledge for your specific company.
You could argue that such a model would not work on a large scale for an entire company. Afterall isn’t KM for everyone at the company. However, I think if you are now starting out on a KM path for your company it would help if you focus on a certain subset of the company, make it work there, quantify the costs associated, then attempt it for other groups, all the while trying to reduce costs to your customers, improve service and keeping your eye on the big picture of KM strategy at your company. So that all these smaller projects eventually fit into a larger strategy.
Some offerings an internal KM Service group could provide include:
- Best Practice Capture – Here the KM group would work with a specific part of the organization to capture best practices from its SMEs. As part of the agreement/contract/SOW the SMEs would be identified, the area of focused defined, the duration set and the output of the content agreed upon.
- Community Building – The KM team provides a service that helps to nurture a new Community of Practice. By providing the framework and necessary people to run the community for a limited period of time. The ‘customer’ would then assume ownership of the community at the end of the contract, or let the community end if it was only needed for a short period.
- Taxonomy Definition – The KM team would work with the customer to help them define and develop their taxonomy of knowledge assets. By doing this on a group by group basis, the KM team eventually has the whole company’s taxonomy.
- Knowledge Repository Definition – Capturing the needs that the knowledge repository must have to support the customer’s business processes. Helping to define, structure and rank those needs in the platform definition.
- Knowledge Repository Implementation – Once the definition is complete, providing the necessary oversight to implement the knowledge repository, using new or existing infrastructure.
- Training – Work with identified SMEs on developing specific training to the customer. Providing training on the tools and processes for knowledge capture and sharing within the customer group.
- Level Up Capture – Working with the internal group and their customers to understand the gaps of current internal group services. Capturing information as part of regular internal project reviews to feedback into the design process to fill those gaps and move up in the service chain.
The associated costs for the KM team could be charged back to the internal groups or just tracked as part of the KM evolution at the company.
Why not just get external consultants? Why have an internal KM group at all? I think that if KM is integral to the company’s success it has to be owned within the company. Parts of the KM process can be out-sourced, external consulting can be used to build the KM team and execute its go to market strategy. But someone must have responsibility for it, and focused on KM at all times. Otherwise it will get lost in the day-to-day of the business. IMHO.