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Choosing the knowledge sharing system

March 1, 2011 Leave a comment

In organizations, knowledge sharing helps to get things done. Effective system that supports it may really spead up the workflow, yet it has to be chosen wisely. Massive knowledge management systems may just ruin your budget if your company is not that big and complex. Having simple basic solutions may just be a bottleneck to you projects.

How to determine what the organization really needs? Let me suggest approach based on what you have, and how big you are. Too obvious?

The idea behind lies in data diversification and complexity of the company’s IT system.

Simple IT systems are small scale and their tasks are limited to operations that have tactical meaning. They are common in small organizations and number of its users don’t exceed the one of organization’s employees. Systems of developed complexity have extended range (usually to region or country, but not necessarily), advanced network combined of local networks cooperating through Internet and extended number of multiple users. That kind of system works to achieve both strategic and operational goals, mostly used in medium sized organizations and with large geographical scope. Complex systems are commonly seen in large scale organizations, usually operate globally. They use a wide range of specialized software with a large number of multiple type users. This whole system is a main participator in achieving strategic, long-term goals.

The second criteria is the amount and diversity of data that is being generated or processed inside the IT environment. Low level data diversification occur in small and medium organizations, where data is used for operational purposes and it generates small amount of data. Common data diversity level exists in medium-sized and large organizations that may generate large amounts of data but not diversified in type. High level of data diversity is present when systems generate and process large amounts of multiple types of data. This appears in systems that operate in medium-sized and large organizations, operating in a large geographical scale.

However, exchanging knowledge doesn’t happen when a company doesn’t foster it. Having this condition matched, you may apply the following matrix to help you choose what fits best to your organization.

Table - Choosing the knowledge sharing system

In some of the cases, putting knowledge management system along with support knowledge sharing into the cloud services would make a lot of sense. The whole system upgrading and maintanance would be easier to upgrade as a company grows. However, this is applicable especially in small and mid-sized organizations. I am not really sure if this would work with large scale corporations, at least for now. Doesn’t mean it could be not in the future.

How to apply this methodology? The decision maker first has to determine the diversity of the data used, whether the company uses pure text documents only or full range of multimedia types of all types. The next step is to determine how complex is the IT infrastructure in the organization. There are five people companys that hold 5 workstations and there are multinational corporations competing in few branches. There are no strict ranges where these criterions fit, but expert judgement would be a fine way to figure them out. For instance, a five people attorney partnership company would withhold 10 workstations and use 95% text documents – that is a simple It system with low level of data divesity and requires simple solutions. Although a 100000+ employees multinational corporation with different competition markets departments raging from R&D to product oriented may require fully capable commercial solutions.

The article presenting the idea was originally published in 2008 by the Publishing House of Wroclaw University of Ecomics and then presented at the AITM 2008 conference (Advanced Information Technologies is Management). You may download the original article here. Although it was some time ago, I believe this method is still up to date.

Download full article (260kb, pdf)

The first part of it is wide intruduction to knowledge management and some IT aspects. If you are not familiar with them, I recommend reading the full article. If you are an IT professional, knowledge management specialist or those aspects are well known to you, you may skip the intruductory part and begin reading from page 9 – Information technologies supporting knowledge sharing.

I would welcome any opinions and comments about this method.

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