Webinar recording: Knowledge management in project-based organisations

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Posted by APM on 7th Jul 2015

This webinar presented the results of an APM Knowledge SIG research project to assess the state of Knowledge Management (KM) in project-based organisations and identify improvement actions. 

The research was carried out by Dr Judy Payne, Chair of the Knowledge SIG, and Dr Nicholas Silburn, who presented the webinar which focused on:

  • What is the state of knowledge management (KM) in project-based organisations?
  • What can you do to improve KM in your organisation? 
  • What good practices can be copied? 
  • What bad practices can be avoided? 
  • What ugly myths should be exploded?

Almost two hundred people from twenty-two organisations have completed a comprehensive online survey to provide data about their understanding of knowledge and KM, and their organisation's KM approach and practices.

The webinar covered:

  • The KM frameworks and concepts underlying the survey
  • The survey results
  • Common KM pitfalls and how to avoid them
  • Good KM practices and how to reproduce them

 

The recording of this webinar (including the presentation slides) can be viewed below:

 

The Knowledge SIG will be releasing the research results in stages via their blog - the first one of these was published today and can be read here.
 

  • Visit the research project web pages here
  • Watch the Courageous Conversation videos here 
  • Next event: Courageous Conversation with Eddie Obeng, September 22nd, Beaconsfield (evening)
    Keep an eye out for upcoming Knowledge SIG events here
  • Join the Knowledge SIG here to be kept informed (it’s free)! 

 

Judy Payne has provided answers below to questions asked during the webinar which we didn't have time to answer on the day:

What is the difference between knowledge management (KM) and information management (IM)?

Knowledge (and therefore KM) differs from Information (and therefore IM) in two ways. Knowledge can't exist without people (whereas information can). Knowledge can be used as the basis for decisions and actions (whereas information alone can't). So IM starts with capturing information, whereas KM starts with connecting people to other people. KM and IM overlap when explicit knowledge is captured and shared - but most KM experts agree that captured explicit knowledge is actually information!


If organisations are not sharing knowledge with another project at the concept stage - that seems logical to me. Because surely it's more important to access knowledge from them at that stage?

Fair point! But I would argue that to get relevant knowledge from another project, you need to explain what it is you are trying to do - so some sharing is needed. The point we were trying to make here is that knowledge should be shared and used within and between projects througout the lifecycle. We found several organisations that don't share knowledge with other projects until their projects end.  


Is there a tried and tested method of knowledge management (KM) that can be shared with the attendees? Should this be online tagged etc?

KM is highly dependent on context - so there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Understanding the principles of KM is more important than the methods. Good KM usually involves connecting people to other people.


Of the respondents, was there a correlation with the presence of a strong PM/PMO function?

We didn't look at this in detail, but I would say there wasn't. The organisations with high KM maturity generally had a dedicated KM team or knowledge manager.


We have begun to manage knowledge pertinent to our pre-construction activities more effectively but I now understand that we should be looking at the whole project lifecycle rather than a part. Any suggestions on how we get started with this?

It's difficult to suggest anything specific without understanding more about your organisation and the projects you do. A couple of ideas that might help:

  1. Make it easy for people to find and contact other people in the organisation so that they can ask for advice and help when they need it. And allow people time to help each other!
  2. Explain to people that you want them to share knowledge with each other at all stages of projects and ask them what would make it easy to do this. You probably already have some good ways of sharing knowledge (even if they are very informal) - build on what you do already. 
     

What are best practice companies or industries in knowledge management? How does a company would know if they are good at KM?

The concept of best practice doesn't really work for KM, because 'best' in one context isn't necessarily best in another. There is an annual award for KM called the MAKE (Most Admired Knowledge Enterprise) Award - you can find past winners and a list of judging criteria online, but the criteria are high-level and might not help much.

The frameworks we developed for the research project are probably more accessible and can be used to assess whether an organisation is good at KM. Some basic information about the frameworks is in the webinar slides - more detail on these frameworks will be published on the APM K SIG web pages over the next few months.


Where there were good practices and processes, did the organisation have a good understanding and its business maturity in terms of CMMI/BD-CMMI etc?

We didn't include this in the study, although the maturity framework we used to assess KM msturity was based on CMMI principles. 


Is there an example self-serve survey which provides this analysis - e.g. if an organsitation wants to undertake a quick analysis of their KM status?

The KM maturity framework we developed for the research will be published on the project web pages later this year. The maturity framework can be used to assess how good an organisation is at KM.

 

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