Organizational Self Assessment for KM Tools


By

Mr. A.Sivakumar
Head of the Department
Ms. J.Jayashree
Lecturer
Department of Commerce
Dr. SNS Rajalakshmi College of Arts & Science
 


Abstract

Over a decade there have been numerous works done in the area of knowledge management and number of knowledge management tools flooded into the market by different vendors. Knowledge management is significantly proven to be the most important key factor for survival of organizations and to retain the competitiveness in the industry of information technology. It is driven by a systematic procedure that in turn, leads to use certain tools and adaption of technological changes for effective management of intellectual assets within an organization. Here it comes to decide which tool and technology to choose that adheres suitably of an organization s needs. This paper focuses on knowledge management activities and explains how an organization can evaluate itself for acclimatizing a knowledge management tool. It provides a knowledge management platform which includes comprehensive classification of various knowledge management tools which are classified based on their functionality by using qualitative and quantitative research methodologies.

Keywords: Knowledge Management, Knowledge Warehouse, Knowledge Management Platform, Categorization of KM Tools, Organizational Assessment for KM Tools Acquisition.

1. Introduction

Knowledge management has floated into the wide horizons of information technology and the industry of wide spectrum; while knowledge warehousing deals with knowledge among diverse knowledge sources. It provides knowledge precision and is becoming a point of focus. Knowledge management tools are used for effective knowledge management and provide a mechanism to accomplish knowledge management activities with ease. Since knowledge management is a catch-all term which encapsulates various mechanism for knowledge management should be cultivated for effective knowledge management as explained in section 4.

The main objective of this paper is to perform a self assessment for attaining a suitable knowledge management tool, based on qualitative research method. Furthermore, a knowledge management platform is proposed which an organization can adapt according to its infrastructure and it is based on qualitative plus quantitative research methodologies.

The paper is organized as follows:

a. In section 2 Knowledge Management process is overviewed.
b. In section 3 Organizational Self Assessment criteria is proposed and discussed.

2. Knowledge Management

Knowledge management is a systematic process forming a cycle of activities Efraim, T., Jay E.A. (2001), which progress step by step resulting in organizational benefits and competitive stability. Figure 1, given below illustrates the steps involved in knowledge management processes to achieve relative maturity of an organization as knowledge management activities continue to grow.

Knowledge flow becomes smooth when these synergetic activities are frequent within the organization and it increases the maturity level of the organization. Knowledge sharing increases the knowledge visibility Prusak, L. (1999) i.e. to know what knowledge resides inside the organization and how efficaciously it can be used. According to Jackson C, the knowledge processes are multidimensional and provide value Jackson, C. (1999).

3. Organizational Self Assessment

One of the key factors of successful organizations is the measurement and assessment of the resources they have and require. The realization of self assessment against acquisition of tools and technology can pave a smooth path towards organizational growth and beneficiary. Since, knowledge is intangible in nature Bornemann, M. and Sammer, M. (2003), which imposes certain implications to the context. In this paper confined assessment criteria is proposed for organizations to evaluate themselves to opt for a knowledge management tool. Table 1, is an illustration which draws a conclusion as explained later in this section.

In the assessment criteria, the most critical factors have been considered from knowledge and management perspectives.

3.1. Knowledge Vision

An organization is to be assessed for a vivid snap of knowledge, that intakes knowledge and related activities, and knowledge sources either in isolation or collaboration. In other words, knowledge vision is a virtual snapshot of knowledge assets demonstrating the strength of an organization and knowledge management related tasks.

3.2. Follow-up Activities

Follow up activities are the process and systematic policies which are executed in terms of knowledge management initiatives. This can be an aid to improve the organizational learning and culture.

3.3. Knowledge Management Initiatives

Knowledge culture is the most important factor which has the power to drive an organization to successful routes. A knowledge sharing culture induces rich flow of expertise within an organization which in turn fosters best practices. Though, each organization has its own culture which influences the way to work Zuhair, I. (2003), but it can be overcome by different management strategies, either appraisal or incentive etc. If an organization goes well by all of the knowledge management activities it can mould its culture into a knowledge sharing culture that is the key to leverage competitive stability and maturity. Therefore, the intellectual assets residing in silos will not bring any gain or profit until shared with others because of the implications of corporate culture Sumner, M. (1999). The only way to get more out of intellectual expertise is by means of sharing and collaboration. Thus, a healthy knowledge sharing culture brings high value and increase returns to an organization.

3.4. Appropriate Criteria for Selection KM Tool

The subtle nature of knowledge and the contextual requirements of an organization make it very difficult to select a tool that is appropriate to satisfy their requirements effectively. Therefore, an adequate selection criterion is to be prepared for an optimum tool selection. During 1999 Summer M, has proposed a selection methodology that is quite significant in the selection process which escorts it to the right way Sumner, M. (1999).

Knowledge management tools are comprehensive tools and often make use of artificial intelligence and intelligent agents. The hardware and software complexities are the major factors which may increase the cost of development and deployment of the tools. Further, the adoption of new tools and technology may also affect one or other organization entities. Strong risk analysis is required to be done prior to acquisition and deploying of KM tools. In both approaches sufficient budgeting, proper project management and risk factors are needed to be dealt with care.

4. KM Tools Categorization

Knowledge management tools provide a mechanism to accomplish and track tasks with ease, but selection of the tool is not an easy job. The reason is that the organizations do not know exactly which of the various tools are appropriate for them without any self assessment or methodology for selecting knowledge management tools Patel, N. and Hlupic, V. (2002).

4.1. Knowledge Management Platform

A systematic environment in terms of knowledge management tools and technology should be incorporated as a primary benchmark. Such an environment should act like an umbrella for various KM activities. The proposed model shown in Figure 3 depicts a knowledge management platform that coordinates all KM activities synergistically. This model incorporates comprehensive classification of knowledge management tools such as knowledge generation tools, knowledge organization tools and knowledge dissemination tools. Following is the brief explanation of these tools.

4.1.1. Knowledge Generation Tools

Knowledge generation tools include all such tools which can be used for knowledge creation, discovery, capturing, codification and purification. The purpose of such related tools is same to the context. Therefore, they can be integrated into one platform which

4.1.2. Knowledge Organization Tools

Knowledge organization tools look like a collection of tools used for knowledge representation, visualization etc. For example knowledge maps, groupware such as document management system to better organize knowledge assets. Similarly workflows demonstrate different process execution streams in a systematic way. Other tools can include knowledge storage tools such as knowledge repositories and knowledge bases. While knowledge search tools can effectively pin down various knowledge sources into indices for quick manipulation and retrieval as per query. Furthermore, query management is also an important feature which is to be considered in search tools. It is quite essential to well organize knowledge in order to build knowledge resources in a way that is ready to use and share with others. Hence, knowledge organization tools induce a glowing precision of knowledge.

4.1.3. Knowledge Dissemination Tools

Knowledge dissemination tools are the most important category of KM tools. Though an organization might have abundant knowledge residing in repositories and other sources, however, it does not perform well until shared and transferred to other. An organization fosters rapidly if its knowledge assets are in action within the organization and appropriate utilization is being done. Knowledge dissemination in an organization s life is like the flow of blood in a human body. Thus, knowledge must be transferred and shared with others in the organization.

Knowledge dissemination tools may include various collaborative and communication tools and technologies like intranet, workgroups and portals etc. These tools spread out knowledge most conveniently by exploiting the ample benefits of World Wide Web. Conferencing tools, messaging and chat applications can also be incorporated. Thus, a knowledge management platform interlinks all of KM activities aided by means of KM tools. This phenomenon not only brings ease to organization for knowledge management but also results in increased maturity as KM activities grow systematically,

5. Conclusion

This paper focuses on knowledge management activities and organizational beneficiary in terms of competitive stability and maturity of intellectual assets by means of proper knowledge dissemination. This could be less toiled by use of proper knowledge management tools and innovative technologies. Furthermore, a confined assessment criterion for an organization s self evaluation is proposed by using qualitative research methods. The assessment criterion is probabilistic in nature and helps to assess the acquisition of knowledge tools. In the last, a knowledge management platform is proposed by using qualitative and quantitative research methods. The KM platform is in fact a packaged environment which incorporates several KM tools which are systematically integrated. This integrated platform links different tools to provide a

6. Future Work

In this paper an assessment criteria is proposed which can be enhanced to accommodate more factors depending upon varying requirements and circumstances. The assessment criteria can be validated by analyzing data which may be collected from different organizations. Further, the KM platform can also be explored in depth to develop an algorithm or an AI agent for management of KM tools and KM platform.

Reference

Al-Hawamdeh, S. (2002) Knowledge management: re-thinking information management and facing the challenge of managing tacit knowledge Information Research, (8)1, paper no. 143, [Available at http://InformationR.net/ir/8-1/paper143.html]

Barry, W. B. (1991) Software Risk Management: Principles and Practices , IEEE Software (8)1, pp. 32-41.

Bornemann, M. and Sammer, M. (2003) Assessment methodology to prioritize knowledge management related activities to support organizational excellence, Measuring Business Excellence, MCB UP Ltd, (7)2, pp. 21- 28.

Efraim, T., Jay E.A. (2001) Decision support systems and intelligent systems , 6th Edition, Upper Saddle River, NJ, Printice Hall.

Jackson, C. (1999) Process to Product: Creating Tools for Knowledge Management, BRINT Institute, http://www.brint.com/members/online/120205/jackson, 2008, Jan 15.

Patel, N. and Hlupic, V. (2002) A methodology for the selection of knowledge management (KM) tools , Proceedings of the 24th International Conference on Information Technology Interfaces, Publisher, (1), pp. 369- 374.

Prusak, L. (1999) What s up with knowledge management? A personal view in: J.W. Cortada & J.A. Woods, eds. The knowledge management year book 1999-2000, pp. 3-7. Boston, MA: Butterworth Heinemann.
 


Mr. A.Sivakumar
Head of the Department
Ms. J.Jayashree
Lecturer
Department of Commerce
Dr. SNS Rajalakshmi College of Arts & Science
 

Source: E-mail June 28, 2010

          

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