Definition

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Knowledge Management

(Alias: KM, knowledge transfer, operating discipline)

The great thing is to last and get your work done and see and hear and learn and understand; and write when there is something that you know; and not to damned much after. The thing to do is work and learn to make it.
             - Ernest Hemingway, epilogue to: Death in the Afternoon

Knowledge management is a process whereby an enterprise methodically gathers, organizes, analyzes and shares knowledge relevant to its business environment and operating disciplines. Many enterprises engage in knowledge management to insure against organisational memory loss of the operating disciplines that are core to business survival; disciplines that can easily be forgotten with the passage of time and the turnover of people. Knowledge management is often the remit of quality management and business process improvement groups.

Why Knowledge Management?

Case study:
A board member of the Dow Chemical Company once walked into a chemical processing plant control room. He asked the operator what he knew about the reactor pressure relief system. Specifically, at what pressure did the automatic relief system activate. The operator didn't know and couldn't find it in the operating manual.
The senior manager went away and reflected on his encounter with corporate memory loss. Was it really possible for a company to forget the fundamentals of its operating technologies? Clearly it was already happening.
From that meeting came a major program to document all the company's operating processes and parameters. It came to be known as the Operating Discipline Program. Operating information was made available on computer screens where ever it was needed. People were tasked with keeping the operating disciplines up-to-date and in place where they were needed. The company would never forget again.

A Knowledge Management Framework

In an Information Week article, Jeff Angus and Jeetu Patel described a knowledge management framework in terms of four-processes.

Gathering  Data entry
OCR and scanning
Voice input
Pulling information from various sources
Searching for information to include  
Organizing  Cataloging
Indexing
Filtering
Linking
Refining  Contextualizing
Collaborating
Compacting
Projecting
Mining
Disseminating Flow
Sharing
Alert
Push

Ten Steps to Implementing Knowledge Management

In his book The Knowledge Management Toolkit: Practical Techniques for Building a Knowledge Management System1, Amrit Tiwana describes a ten step knowledge management implementation process.

  1. Analyzing the Existing Infrastructure
  2. Aligning Knowledge Management and Business Strategy
  3. Designing the Knowledge Management Infrastructure
  4. Auditing Existing Knowledge Assets and Systems
  5. Designing the Knowledge Management Team
  6. Creating the Knowledge Management Blueprint
  7. Developing the Knowledge Management System
  8. Deploying and Using the Results-driven Incremental Methodology
  9. Managing Change, Culture and Reward Structures
  10. Evaluating Performance, Measuring ROI, and Incrementally Refining the KMS.

Knowledge Management Tools

A2iA Corp.
Accusoft Pegasus
AnyDoc Software, Inc.
BluePhoenix KMS
BP Logix, Inc.
Brainware Inc
Concept Searching, Inc
Connotate
Consona
Content ANalyst Company
Coveo
eGain Communications Corp
Ektron, Inc.
EPiServer Inc.
EXSYS, Inc.
IBM Lotus Collaboration and Knowledge Management 
iDatrix Corporation
InQuira Inc
Intelli Response
Isys Search Software Inc
Microsoft (SharePoint)
MobilVox, Inc.
Moxie Software
Noetix Corporation
Omtool, Ltd.
SpringCM
The Institute of Financial Operations
Traction Software
Vivisimo Inc
ZyLab eDiscovery 
Collaboration

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