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Published by: Diven Bhatia on Sep 29, 2012
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05/13/2014

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Reasons for successful KM initiatives Success of KM initiative depends on many factors, some within our control, some not

. Typically, critical success factors can be categorized into five primary categories: 1) Leadership - Leadership plays a key role in ensuring success in almost any initiative within an organization. Its impact on KM is even more pronounced because this is a relatively new discipline. Nothing makes greater impact on an organization than when leaders model the behavior they are trying to promote among employees. 2) Culture - Culture is the combination of shared history, expectations, unwritten rules, and social customs that compel behaviors. It is the set of underlying beliefs that, while rarely exactly articulated, are always there to influence the perception of actions and communications of all employees. 3) Structure, Roles, and Responsibilities - Although there are many ways that organizations structure the governance of their KM initiatives, APQC has found common elements among bestpractice partner organizations: a steering committee, a central KM support group, and stewards/owners throughout the organization who are responsible for KM. It is a combination of a centralized and decentralized approach. 4) Information Technology (IT) Infrastructure Without a solid IT infrastructure, an organization cannot enable its employees to share information on a large scale. Yet the trap that most organizations fall into is not a lack of IT, but rather too much focus on IT. A KM initiative is not a software application; having a platform to share information and to communicate is only part of a KM initiative. 5) Measurement Most people fear measurement because they see it as synonymous with ROI, and they are not sure how to link KM efforts to ROI. Although the ultimate goal of measuring the effectiveness of a KM initiative is to determine some type of ROI, there are many intervening variables that also affect the outcomes.

Knowledge Management Systems Following are the steps for implementing knowledge management to bring real benefits to your organization Step 1: Identifying the Business Problem KEY CONCEPT: Successful implementation of knowledge management requires a clear identification of the business problem to be solved and an alignment of the knowledge management project with overall business objectives. Step 2: Preparing for Change

KEY CONCEPT: Knowledge management is more than just an application of technology. It involves cultural changes in the way employees perceive the knowledge they develop. A successful implementation of knowledge management also requires endorsement from corporate management. Step 3: Creating the Team KEY CONCEPT: A well staffed team with a strong team leader and “cross departmental” expertise is essential for successful implementation of knowledge management. Step 4: Performing the Knowledge Audit KEY CONCEPT: The knowledge audit identifies sources of knowledge required to solve the business problem. It begins to organize knowledge by developing categories that reflect how your organization operates. The knowledge audit does not have to be a long, complex project. It only needs to answer a few key questions Step 5: Defining Key Features KEY CONCEPT: Creating a checklist of required key features will ensure that knowledge management technology you acquire will help solve your key business problems while enhancing your overall IT infrastructure. Step 6: Building Blocks for Knowledge Management KEY CONCEPT: Implement knowledge management systems using a phased approach and a smooth “onramp”. Each phase of the implementation addresses a specific part of the knowledge management solution, lays the foundation for the next phase, provides immediate benefits and provides a measurable ROI. Step 7: Linking Knowledge to People Reasons for successful KM initiatives Success of KM initiative depends on many factors, some within our control, some not. Typically, critical success factors can be categorized into five primary categories: 1) Leadership - Leadership plays a key role in ensuring success in almost any initiative within an organization. Its impact on KM is even more pronounced because this is a relatively new discipline. Nothing makes greater impact on an organization than when leaders model the behavior they are trying to promote among employees. 2) Culture - Culture is the combination of shared history, expectations, unwritten rules, and social customs that compel behaviors. It is the set of underlying beliefs that, while rarely exactly articulated, are always there to influence the perception of actions and communications of all employees. 3) Structure, Roles, and Responsibilities - Although there are many ways that organizations structure the governance of their KM initiatives, APQC has found common elements among bestpractice partner organizations: a steering committee, a central KM support group, and stewards/owners throughout the organization who are responsible for KM. It is a combination of a centralized and decentralized approach. 4) Information Technology (IT) Infrastructure

Without a solid IT infrastructure, an organization cannot enable its employees to share information on a large scale. Yet the trap that most organizations fall into is not a lack of IT, but rather too much focus on IT. A KM initiative is not a software application; having a platform to share information and to communicate is only part of a KM initiative. 5) Measurement Most people fear measurement because they see it as synonymous with ROI, and they are not sure how to link KM efforts to ROI. Although the ultimate goal of measuring the effectiveness of a KM initiative is to determine some type of ROI, there are many intervening variables that also affect the outcomes. Conclusion Implementing a complete knowledge management system is no small feat; however, the results can be impressive and risks can be minimized by taking a phased approach that gives beneficial returns at each step. Senior executive commitment is essential and executives can play an important role in defining the key problems to solve and the corporate objectives to meet. Once the organization defines its objectives and makes a commitment of people and time, the knowledge management team can get to work. While the knowledge audit is a key process for designing complete systems, it also exposes inefficiencies and holes that can be addressed before the ultimate solution is implemented. Knowledge management projects often stall by trying to do too much in a single step. By using simple solutions, such as query brokers and focused information repositories, to quickly address some of the basic problems found during the knowledge audit, the knowledge management team can quickly show success and win the confidence and participation of important constituencies. Technology plays an important role in enabling knowledge management methodologies and processes. Packaged applications can ease the burden of creating a customized system without requiring custom programming to enable basic tasks such as locating subject-matter experts, allowing end users to contribute and locate knowledge, and easing the job of content managers to ward off information pollution. The knowledge management system should be open, customizable, measurable, and secure. No less important than the technical features are human considerations motivating people to contribute, manage and share knowledge. Throughout the life of a knowledge management project, leadership needs to constantly emphasize the quality and value of knowledge management. Workers must learn to collaborate and contributors and users of the knowledge management system need incentives to encourage these activities and keep the system vital. Most organizations that have made this kind of investment in knowledge management realize tangible results. They add to their top and bottom lines through faster cycle times, enhanced efficiency, better decision making and greater use of tested solutions across the enterprise.

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