February 20, 2010

Lil Jackie’s Elements of a KM Service Portfolio

Well, I was going to start off whining about how tired I was following my mad crazy Valentine's Day weekend, but after a 60 second re-introduction to Shear Genius' beautiful but vacuous hostess, Camila Alves, I am reminded of what tired looks like. (Heidi Klum she ain't! Whoever made the decision to let Jaclyn Smith go should be fired.)

Plus, I just spent an hour researching dim sum recipes (which makes me wish Canton House still stayed open 'til 2am) and 45 minutes rummaging through a box of old school papers (which affirmed for me how great it is to be doing exactly what I'd hoped to be doing when I was in college). So, I'm actually 5x5 right now.

'Aboot' two years ago (sorry, I've been watching the Winter Olympics), I read this strategy+business 'Launch and Learn' article on the integration of innovation portfolios as a means of consistently turning out profitable new offerings. I am forever looking for new ways to enhance the awareness of KM and demonstrate its value and this article had me considering the role KM could play in developing strategic solutions that focused on integrating the various corporate activities to which it refers. And, not just those related to product creation (although, clearly, activities that impact cost savings and revenue generation provide KM with the best visibility, recognition and subsequent latitude to explore more people-centric activities).

It also had me thinking ‘aboot’ (still funny) the value in developing KM portfolios.

Among my (many) peeves are organizations that have a titled KM function (meaning, someone is walking around with the title of Knowledge Manager) and yet few, if any, within that organization have a clue 'aboot' what KM is or what the KM function (and the Knowledge Manager) actually does. Even worse is when folks working in KM (titled or not) are incapable of providing user-friendly, on-the-spot explanations of what KM is and examples of how it benefits their specific organizations. (Just like an aspiring singer, you never know who you're going to meet and when and you should always be ready to demo exactly what makes you a star.) I get that some job titles (and their respective responsibilities) are more familiar than others, but if you can’t succinctly sum up what you do and be prepared to shine on a dime, then you’re a moron. Really.

Last year, I began the process of fleshing out a list of KM service offerings and a few months later I was in a meeting where one of my process-oriented KM colleagues suggested the development of a KM Service Catalog to organize and promote current and future offerings (shout out to Roger!).

You can check out the wiki page for the full deets, but the quick and dirty on service catalogs is that they provide a listing of services offered by a particular program, department, function, etc. While the primary value is self-evident (or should be), service catalogs also support the development of an overall value proposition for KM. And, if you don't have one, 2010 should be all 'aboot' building your KM value proposition.

Anywho, as is clearly my burden in life, after my colleague suggested the idea, I set out to research how one actually creates a service catalog. It took a few months (what with all of my other duties) and despite the more "academic" literature giving the illusion that the process is a complicated pain in the ass, it turned out to be a lot less confusing to just see what other folks out there are doing and employ a little "reverse engineering".

As you'll see (by clicking on the following link) I was particularly fond of the online service catalogue created and maintained by Australia's Griffith University. (And a quick nod to Dublin City University's less pretty, though equally effective offering.

A few points to consider:
  1. It's important to note that each service offering should provide only summative information and avoid lots of heavy, process-oriented detail. Depending on the offering, you might want to have those processes detailed somewhere (so as to be able to provide that information when enquiries are made) but for your portfolio (or catalog), a concise, informative description is sufficient.
  2. Keep information current! The cool thing 'aboot' a service portfolio is that you can add or remove offerings depending upon the availability of resources (human, financial, or technological). You can also modify the terms of offerings as necessary, for example, passing off the cost of a service offering to the requestor when budge restrictions arise. Just be sure that if an offering is included in your portfolio that you honor the terms as described, otherwise you risk damaging your respect and credibility
  3. Enquiries and requests into service offerings are a great metric to capture. They also provide insight into areas of opportunity for KM.
  4. It's not enough just to have a portfolio, you need to be proactive about promoting it!  Support the awareness of service offerings with plenty of marketing and education on what each offers and involves. Don't assume that just because you whip up a portfolio and slap it online that your audience will hunt you down, you still need to seek them out, but now you'll be ready to meet them.
As usual, Lil Jackie and I are open to praise, criticisms and feedback on how these elements can be improved.