Monday, 5 August 2019

How KM works in projects

Projects require their own KM Framework. Here's one view of what this might look like. 


Image from science.dodlive.mil

"Knowledge Management for Teams and Projects" contains a bullet-point summary of how Knowledge Management should be applied in a project-based organisation, addressed to the three main stakeholder groupings of Project Manager, SMEs, and Management. This describes an ideal project-level Knowledge Management Framework
The last chapter of my book

The bullet-point summary is reproduced below with a few updates representing evolution of the field since the book was written in 2005.

Advice for the project manager and project knowledge manager

  1. The project manager needs to ensure that the project staff are "Learning Before Doing" (this is part of the simple project-based Knowledge Management model of Learning Before, During and After).  
  2. The project should create a project Knowledge Management Plan or  Knowledge Gap Analysis plan to determine what knowledge the project needs before they start.
  3. This should include a clear knowledge of the customers’ needs and context.
  4. This should include knowledge from past similar projects, including a review of their cost and schedule data, and their lessons learned.
  5. The earlier you can bring in contractors’ knowledge, the better. 
  6. Peer Assist is one of the simplest and most effective ways of bringing in existing knowledge from past projects. 
  7. If there is no existing knowledge, some level of business-driven action learning (or other innovation process) may be needed to create any new knowledg which is needed. 
  8. The project manager needs to ensure that the project staff are ‘Learning While Doing". 
  9. The After Action Review (AAR) is an excellent way of doing this (as part of a Project Learning System). 
  10. AARs can be built into project review meetings. 
  11. Communities of practice are a crucial resource for learning while doing. 
  12. The project manager will need to appoint a knowledge manager for the project. 
  13. Knowledge engineers and/or learning historians may also be needed in major projects or projects which are "pioneer" projects for the organisation (these are a specific type of knowledge manager dedicated to recording the details of the project, and the detailed lessons). 
  14. A lessons and action log will be needed. 
  15. The project manager needs to ensure that the project staff are "Learning After Doing". 
  16. Retrospects need to be scheduled after each project stage (and perhaps more frequently). 
  17. On a large, unique, pioneering or dispersed project, a Learning History may be needed. 
  18. Knowledge management needs to be linked with performance management, risk management, and SSHE management

Advice for the Communities of Practice and Knowledge Owners


  1. There should be a community of practice covering all main work topics in the organisation
  2. There should be a "Knowledge Owner" for all main knowledge topics. 
  3. Best practices, knowledge assets and corporate standards should be constructed for key areas of knowledge (potentially hosted on wikis). 
  4. Any individual on the project working on these topics should join the community of practice and get familiar with the community knowledge and the community discussions

Advice for Management


  1. The organisation needs a knowledge management framework
  2. Knowledge management standards (for example a KM policy) need to be developed. 
  3. Knowledge management plans should be introduced at project level. 
  4. Some sort of audit or assessment of Knowledge management capability is needed. 
  5. A small resource is needed for monitoring, support, and coordination of Knowledge Management (including performance measurement and the provision of training).
  6. Lesson Learning System will be needed to cover all projects (including Lessons Management software and a Lesson Management team to manage this). 

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