July 20, 2006

Christian's Kick-a** KM Roadmap

I recently updated the Knowledge Management Roadmap I use to establish my KM strategy overview. I took some inspiration from the Roadmap created by Amrit Tiwana (formerly of my alma mater, Georgia State) in his book, Knowledge Management Toolkit.

I'm still figuring out how to attach the PDF to this post, but you can email me at youngde1@gmail.com for a copy.

Essentially, this Roadmap breaks-out into five steps the various processes I employ in my approach.

Phase 1: Knowledge Audit
Every KM strategy should begin with a knowledge audit. How elaborate the audit might be is driven by whether or not an existing, documented strategy is in place and/or the level of carte blanche held by the Knowledge Manager. On the one hand, if you're walking into an existing, documented strategy you might have to get by with a very informal knowledge audit while you wrap your hands around what's going on in the organization. On the other hand, if you're starting fresh - and you have the carte blanche and organizational support to do so, you might be able to conduct a wide-scale knowledge audit; it's important to establish how much carte blanche (or "juice") you have at the onset - nothing worse than doing something full-on only to have someone slam on the breaks.

Along with performing the knowledge audit I am usually understanding and setting expectations of KM (by asking - and answering - these questions of the stakeholders, "What does KM mean to you?" and "What do you expect from KM?"); Defining and documenting the scope and vision (What does a fully implemented KM strategy look like the organization?); and, achieving buy-in (something that never ends).

Phase 2: KM Strategy Blueprint
This phase is all about taking the information collected in Phase 1 and building out the KM strategy, establishing metrics (which correlate directly with the intended deliverables!); building out a functional requirements document (what does your KM system/application need to be able to do, as indicated by the information you gathered in your knowledge audit regarding the needs of the various stakeholders in the organization?); determine the human resources needed to make the strategy work; and, yet again, acheive buy-in of the the strategy you've devloped.

This is also the phase where I would be comparing off-the-shelf applications and understanding how each could be customized to suit the needs of the organization.

Phase 3: KMS Development
If you've never had to establish a content classification methodology then consider yourself blessed because this really is a pain in the buh-tocks. Not only is this methodolgy driving how content is captured and organized in your system, it's also driving your search functionality which is huge determinant of how functional your system is (if folks can't find content they won't like your system, and if they don't like it, they won't use it, and if they don't use it, you probably won't be that company's KM for very long).

Never fear, though, you're also doing plenty of QA, UAT, and bug-fixing in this phase before you get to Phase 4.

Phase 4: KMS Deployment

Each phase of this roadmap is critical, but this is really where you put your money where your mouth is! Not only are you rolling out your knowledge management system, you're also having to launch your branding campaign which involves all of the marketing and education around both your system and KM, in general.

More thought definitely needs to go into branding knowledge management. I think the traditional technology focus most folks take when thinking about and implementing KM ill prepares both organizations and knowledge managers for this aspect of KM. Neverthless, "pimpin'" KM is hyper critical to making it successful!

Phase 5: KMS Evaluation
This is both the end of the KM cycle and the beginning, because it will set the stage for the next knowledge audit (which I think should be done on an annual basis, but that's what works for me). Basically, this phase goes back to all of those goals that were set in Phase 2 and evaluates how well they were acheived based on the pre-determined metrics.

I know that at this point, the temptation to add a little gloss to the results might appeal to some depending on what they to work with, but my experience is that the only way to really make KM work is to be as critically honest as possible. Obviously highlight positives, but don't be afraid to emphasize negatives as well; providing reasons for why things did or didn't work along with recommendations for resolving issues and improving outcomes.

Honesty is key not only for professional integrity, but also because you can't truly address critical organizational issues if you're not confronting them - and somebody has to, why not the "knowledge manager".