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Wednesday, September 28, 2005

TOP TIPS: Using “anti-patterns” to define KM processes

Studying best practices is an accepted way to improve KM, but best practices are difficult to implement - what worked in one organization's culture may not work in another. Here, Keshavamurthy Rajgopal explains how “worst practices” or “anti-patterns” can help in developing processes for KM programs.

Problem: Unless a KM program is defined with specific objectives, it cannot be planned, tracked or managed. In essence, the program needs to be treated as a project.

Context: The KM initiative's roadmap is defined and the deliverables from the initiative are grouped into one or more projects or phases of a project.

Solution: Since the specifications, deliverables, and resource requirements look similar to that of an IT project, treat the KM project as an IT project and manage as per established IT project management criteria. Issues surrounding short-listing, evaluating, selecting and deploying tools and technologies to accomplish KM goals weigh heavily in favor of approaching the initiative in this way.

Resulting context: Typical measurements of an IT project are schedule, cost adherence (or deviation) and defects. However, experience suggests that the measures of a KM program's success are difficult to establish and evaluate. Usual measurements of a KM project include factors that involve changes in user behavior and contributing towards improved business performance or customer satisfaction. There is a significant loss of focus while translating these objectives into technical specifications. Even if the IT project succeeds, it does not mean that the KM program has succeeded.

Refactored solution: The IT project perspective is certainly one important parameter of KM programs that helps in planning, management, and measurement of success. However, it alone cannot guarantee the success of the KM project. Treating the KM program as a combination of organizational change management, IT program (under the umbrella of IT projects) and people management will provide a comprehensive view of the initiative.

Source: Excerpted from “There's no success like failure” by Keshavamurthy Rajgopal in the current issue of KM Review.

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