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Key criteria critical

In the fourth instalment of the Knowledge Management series, Vince Brown investigates key criteria organisations can use to measure the validity and suitability of the range of KM services and products available.

A KNOWLEDGE management product must fit a company’s strategic needs, says knowledge management researcher and consultant Kate Andrews.

Dr Andrews is a senior lecturer at Griffith University’s Graduate School of Management and director of BDO Kendell’s Knowledge Management Division. She is also a member of the Standards Australia working committee overseeing the transition of Australia’s interim KM standard into the final standard.

“It is of key importance that organisations evaluate any KM service or product to determine if it seeks to establish the organisation’s key business objectives and core operational processes,” she said.

The importance of developing key performance indicators as a means of measurably establishing the success or otherwise of KM initiatives was a point Dr Andrews also stressed.

“Accurate and meaningful KPIs are essential in the measurement of how successful KM work has been within an organisation,” she said.

“These KPIs, therefore, must be based upon the key business strategies upon which an organisation relies.”

Dr Andrews said the expertise of KM consultants could often be measured by the kinds of questions they asked their clients.

“One of the most important functions of the KM consultant is to ask the right questions that allow them to identify an organisation’s core processes and create the most value from them,” she said.

Dr Andrews indicated that she was pleased to see that Australian organisations had been very good at recognising that for KM services, products and initiatives to be successful, focus had to be placed on key organisational issues and clearly defined, measurable outcomes. She said this was often not the case in other parts of the world, especially where information technologies were seen as the key driver of KM initiatives rather than people and processes.

“There will always be organisations that look for the technical solution because they don’t want to change behaviour, thus avoiding the ‘messy’ people stuff that is so important to KM,” Dr Andrews said.

“In fact, most KM initiatives that end up being derailed are the ones that have not paid enough attention to the people stuff.”

Dr Andrews listed a number of key considerations that organisations could undertake when evaluating how KM services and initiatives might benefit their ongoing success and improvement.

“Firstly, organisations need to determine how they can make their processes more efficient by supporting them with information and knowledge,” she said.

“Secondly, organisations can look for ways in which further value can be extracted from the information and knowledge they already have in their possession.

“Finally, organisations can look for means by which to bring new knowledge into the enterprise.”

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