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Knowledge tools put to the test

In part three of this five-part series Vince Brown investigates software programs that have potential knowledge management applications.

AS Sue Jefferies, a leading knowledge management consultant explains, KM is a multi-faceted discipline comprising “...people, processes, structure and tools”.

Two such tools available locally are Analyst’s Notebook distributed by Visual Analysis and KPI Scorecard distributed by the Centre for Industry Research and Strategy.

The Analyst’s Notebook

The Analyst’s Notebook is a software application that can access a wide range of structured and unstructured data and represent it in a visual format clearly identifying otherwise subtle or hidden links and relationships.

Working on the principle that ‘a picture speaks a thousand words’, the Analyst’s Notebook has a law enforcement heritage.

“The software was conceived out of a law enforcement need,” Visual Analysis client support manager Tim Green said.

“The Analyst’s Notebook analyses data sets and produces a visual representation of the relationships and associations that are predominantly hidden and would otherwise be impossible to identify.

“The software has a wide range of applications and serves as an excellent tool for any organisation wishing to leverage information it already holds or to which it has access.

“Some ways in which The Analyst’s Notebook has been applied include the identification of insurance claims fraud, the exposing of refund scams in the retail industry and in the commercial sector for credit profiling and customer loyalty tracking.

“However, it should be noted that the program is a very flexible and versatile application that can be aimed at flat text files, databases, spreadsheets and a number of other delimited files.

“In cases where information has been acquired in a non-delimited format, such as telephone billing records, PABX data or internet log files, pre-processing can be done for the client by Visual Analysis.”

Visual Analysis lead developer Chris Wearn said: “What you’ve got is a very powerful means by which to identify and communicate otherwise subtle data relationships using a tool that doesn’t require an organisation to re-engineer its information systems.

“To the best of our knowledge, no other application providing this level of functionality and ease of use is available at the present time.”

KPI Scorecard

Developed by Maus Business Systems, and distributed locally by the Centre for Industry Research and Strategy, KPI Scorecard is a software application that allows business organisations to monitor their financial and non-financial key performance indicators.

KPI Scorecard allows the enterprise to monitor critical business processes and outcomes according to the highly regarded “balanced scorecard” management concept, thus providing feedback that can be used to improve operational and financial outcomes. Centre for Industry Research and Strategy principal consultant Daniel O’Connor said that more than 50 per cent of the Fortune 500 Companies had a Scorecard system operating.

He said one of the application’s most powerful features was its ability to pick up detailed information such as that contained in complex spreadsheets and automatically represent it as a report with a maximum of six graphs to a page.

“The key advantage is that it delivers regular financial and non-financial information to the manager’s desk, in instantly-generated graphs,” Mr O’Connor said.

“A CEO can scan summary graphs of sales, profit, product performance, team productivity, quality control, employees or suppliers on a one-page graph.”

Using a relational database to do this, KPI Scorecard allows the user to quickly acquire a concise view of an organisation’s KPIs over any time period.

Another key feature of the package is its ability to view information from virtually thousands of different angles and provide a three-dimensional analysis that facilitates rapid identification of opportunities and problems to which valuable time and effort can be applied.

“Having a scorecard system provides instant visual analysis and allows managers to scan for signs of change and focus on only areas that need attention,” Mr O’Connor said.

KPI Scorecard also provides the user with the ability to set internal benchmarks through which employee performance or product sales can be compared to.

The application, which integrates with MS PowerPoint, Word and Excel, also generates customised reports that can be used for efficient data review, vital in determining why KPIs have performed at certain levels.

p          Vince Brown can be            contacted at

vbrown@bigpond.net.au

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