Tuesday 30 August 2016

Testing a tool vs piloting a framework

I blogged yesterday about this different between a KM tool and a KM framework. This distinction is critical when it comes to testing and piloting Knowledge Management. 

Test card, from wikipedia
The early stages of Knowledge Management Implementation often involve testing and piloting. We can look at these as tests at two different levels:

  • Tests are where you apply a single KM tool,process or technology to a single business issue, in order to demonstrate that it can be applied in your organization ("proof of concept"). A proof of concept trial usually lasts a few days, or weeks at the most. 
  • A Knowledge Management pilot where you apply a complete (but often simplified) KM framework to a business problem, in order to solve the problem, deliver value, gain knowledge and create success stories. A KM pilot can last several months, or even a year.
It is important to distinguish between these two levels. As we know that one tool alone does not deliver value, a test of a single tool will prove the viability of the tool, but will not itself deliver business value. For value delivery, you need a framework pilot, even if it is a
 Minimum Viable framework.

I was reminded of this last week, visiting an engineering firm where the KM team has been running a series of single-tool tests in one department.  They were puzzled why these tests had not convinced management of the value of KM, so I explained the need for a a joined-up system or framework, to ensure that knowledge was taken right the way through the journey from creation to re-use.

You therefore need to decide what you want to achieve. If you want to test a tool, then that's fine, but if you want to show some value to the organisation through knowledge management, you need a pilot where you apply a framework to a business issue.

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