Wednesday, 15 June 2016

The Knowledge Manager as Supply Chain manager

If Knowledge Management is like a supply chain for knowledge, then the Knowledge Manager is the Supply Chain manager.


Image from wikipedia japan
I have blogged many times about the analogy between Knowledge Management and a supply chain for knowledge, and am presenting this idea later today in KMUK.  A corrolory of this idea is that the Knowledge Manager then takes the role of the Supply Chain manager for knowledge.  The knowledge manager does not create the knowledge nor use it, but is accountable for its supply to the user.

We can explore this idea by looking at the job description of a supply chain manager, and seeing how this translates into KM terms. The supply chain job description below is taken from here and here.



Supply chain manager job description

Knowledge manager job description

Supply Chain Managers plan, develop, optimize, organize, direct, manage, evaluate, and are accountable and/or responsible for some or all of the supply chains processes of organizations. Knowledge Managers plan, develop, optimize, organize, direct, manage, evaluate, and are accountable and/or responsible for some or all of the knowledge management processes of organizations.
Diagram supply chain models to help facilitate discussions with customers.Diagram knowledge management models to help facilitate discussions with customers.
Select transportation routes to maximize economy by combining shipments or consolidating warehousing and distribution.Select knowledge transfer approaches to maximize efficiency and effectiveness
Assess appropriate material handling equipment needs and staffing levels to load, unload, move, or store materials. Assess appropriate KM staffing levels for knowledge creation, transfer, storage, synthesis and re-use.
Confer with supply chain planners to forecast demand or create supply plans that ensure availability of materials or products. Confer with the business to forecast the demand for knowledge; create strategies and plans that ensure availability of knowledge as and when needed.
Define performance metrics for measurement, comparison, or evaluation of supply chain factors, such as product cost or quality. Define performance metrics for measurement, comparison, or evaluation of KM factors, such as knowledge availability or quality.
Monitor supplier performance to assess ability to meet quality and delivery requirements. Monitor knowledge supplier performance to assess ability to meet quality and delivery requirements.
Analyze information about supplier performance or procurement program success. Analyze information about knowledge supplier performance or knowledge creation / acquisition program success.
Meet with suppliers to discuss performance metrics, to provide performance feedback, or to discuss production forecasts or changes.Meet with knowledge suppliers to discuss performance metrics, to provide performance feedback, or to discuss new knowledge needs.
Design or implement plant warehousing strategies for production materials or finished products Design or implement storage and synthesis strategies for documented knowledge
Analyze inventories to determine how to increase inventory turns, reduce waste, or optimize customer service. Analyze knowledge stores to determine how to increase re-use, reduce waste, or optimize customer service.
Review or update supply chain practices in accordance with new or changing environmental policies, standards, regulations, or laws.Review or update KM practices in accordance with new or changing standards and requirements.
Implement new or improved supply chain processes.Implement new or improved KM processes.


But what's different?

The main difference between the role of the supply chain manager and the role of the Knowledge Manager is that the supply chain manager can assume that there is a customer for their services. They can assume that there are manufacturing workers who are ready and waiting for the supply of parts and materials.

The  Knowledge Manager cannot assume this.

The Knowledge Manager also has to work as a Demand Chain Manager; stimulating the demand for knowledge, and introducing the process and systems by which knowledge is sought, as well as those by which it is supplied.



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