Friday, 6 April 2018

Knowledge documents vs project documents

We have been having a discussion in Knoco about the differences between project document output, project knowledge output, and knowledge documents. Here is one way to look at the differences.

Every project produces documents as a result of the project workstream. However, as we know, the organisation also needs a knowledge workstream, which has a different set of documents; described in this blog post as "standard practices, designs and procedures, best practices, guidelines and good examples".

The main difference between the two types of documents is that the knowledge workstream documents are not tied to any one project, but have a life that covers multiple projects. The guidance pages in the Shell wiki, for example, collect knowledge from multiple projects, and are updated with new knowledge arising from each project. The pages in the Chrysler Electronic Book of Knowledge, to take a second example, record knowledge of car components built up from many models and makes of car, jeep and lorry, and have a lifespan way beyond that of a new car development project.

Project documents, on the other hand, mostly have a lifecycle tied only to that project.

There are however knowledge products from projects, which are those new bits of knowledge used to update the knowledge workstream documents. These may be lessons, observations, new practices, new "good examples" and templates etc. And sometimes the wiki or the best practice document will refer to individual project files as "a good example to copy". The two workstreams and the two types of document can be linked, but in general we can conclude as follows:

  • The knowledge documents in the knowledge workstream apply to multiple projects
  • The project documents in the project workstream refer only to that project.


Anonymous said...

I found this a helpful blog. I am working on the implementation of a matter management system within a large law department. One of the things I've been considering is the appropriateness of organizing documents within matters using a folder structure versus metadata and tags.

I have a hypothesis that it makes sense to use a folder structure to organize "project" or "matter" documents - because the folder structure operates as a story map, and helps people understand what is involved with the specific project/matter. Browsing for project documents seems intuitive. But it makes sense to use metadata to classify "knowledge" documents because users are likely going to want to find knowledge documents through "search" as opposed to browsing.

I'm interested in hearing reactions to that hypothesis.

Nick Milton said...

Sorry for the delay in answering. I will answer this question in a blog post next week

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