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National Probation Service

Briefing
Issue 38 December 2007

PROBATION KNOWLEDGE MANAGEMENT INITIATIVE
INTRODUCTION
This initiative is a provider development project being led by the Performance Improvement Unit

WHAT IS KNOWLEDGE MANAGEMENT?
Knowledge Management (KM) is being recognised as critical to developing organisational capability. Most organisations face challenges as they experience issues such as: • • • • Costly mistakes are duplicated because earlier ones were not recorded or analysed Work is often re-done because people are not aware of previous activities, projects or their outcomes. Good ideas and best practices are most often not shared, so hindering development and resulting in failures to improve performance. Employees are frustrated because knowledge resources are not available.

KM can improve an organisation’s effectiveness by enabling 1. Learning from success and failures, at the individual, team or organisation level 2. Learning from each other, both within teams and with colleagues at a functional and geographical distance 3. Learning from “outside- in” from partners, stakeholders, similar organisations, or other commercial ventures. Examples of where a systematic, structured Knowledge Management system could have improved probation performance are: • • • Learning from the Performance Improvement Action Teams , where lessons from good work to improve practice and performance were not systematically captured Lessons learned from national projects are not recorded and referenced, to be considered as part of policy development in subsequent projects. Learning from other agencies where similar structural or organisational changes have occurred, e.g. from National Health Service Trusts

Areas will have their own examples of where resources might have been saved if a structured and systematically collected and stored body of knowledge had been available to and mobilised by their staff.

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WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR PROBATION?
The initiative has two main stages. By April 2008 a national Knowledge Management Framework will be developed. This shared framework will be available for use by the 42 Boards/Trusts and by HQ functions relevant to probation. In 2008/09, the second stage will focus on rolling out that framework to regions or Areas. PIU will seek to support regions in taking forward development of a KM strategy within that overall framework. Subsequent stages of the project will enable the connection of the framework with other NOMS HQ functions. This will help to develop a cohesive framework for providers working together to share and access knowledge. The focus will be on key priorities for Probation Areas and for practitioners. For example, the initiative will seek to support sharing of learning from the ‘Boards to Trusts’ projects. Another strand will be to develop practice-based knowledge management; an example could be a “sentence plan improvement” chat room. To deliver benefits, a Knowledge Management strategy must support the key business areas and involve staff at all grades.

NEXT STEPS
A letter to Chief Officers and Board Chairs has informed them of this project and asked for nominations to join a reference group. Regions wishing to take forward work on knowledge management, including possible development of a regional strategy, have been asked to express interest. Field work to inform the development of the shared KM framework will commence in January.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
If you are interested in knowing more about the project please contact either of the project leaders Andrew.underdown@manchester.probation.gsi.gov.uk or 07876 478 685 Or meg.blumsom@homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk or 07789 921 811 Or via Improvement and Development Managers in you region.

FURTHER INFORMATION:
Further Briefings like this one will be produced as necessary and posted on the Epic Intranet http://npsintranet.probation.gsi.gov.uk/index.htm (navigate from Home>News & Comms>Newsletters>Briefings) and the National Probation Service website at: www.probation.justice.gov.uk (navigate from Home>News and Updates>Briefings) Issued by NOMS Communications

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