Monday 25 October 2021

Projects have knowledge inputs and knowledge outputs - that's why they need a KM plan

Knowledge is both an input to, and an output from, project activity. The projects therefore need a plan to manage that knowledge. 

Projects consume and create resources. They consume money, time and equipment, and they create products and income streams. They also consume (or, rather, access and apply) knowledge and create knowledge as an output or product

Knowledge inputs

Each project needs an input of knowledge. This is knowledge that the team will need in order to deliver the project; knowledge of the practices to be used, the technology to be applied, the client and how they operate, and other insights and guidance.

Much of that knowledge enters the project in the heads of the project team, but there can be other knowledge inputs as well, particularly if the project team are facing factors which are unknown to them. Maybe they need to hold a peer assist with another project, maybe they need to look in the knowledge base for useful guidance, or maybe they have to ask the relevant communities of practice for help or advice.  All of these are mechanisms for knowledge input.

A project team can map out the required knowledge inputs in a knowledge gap analysis meeting, for example, where the team will identify the crucial topics where knowledge is needed. It can also then be useful to plot these topics on the Boston Square above, based on the importance of the topic to the project outcome and the availability of knowledge on the topic.  This gives you some idea of the actions to take for each of the topics. 

Knowledge outputs

Projects also generate knowledge. Not only will the project create monetary value, it can also create knowledge value, so long as that knowledge is captured. This is particularly true when the project is covering a new area, where a considerable amount of new knowledge could be created for the organisation. Knowledge outputs may include guidance, procedures, lessons learned, templates, checksheets and other artefacts that might be of use to future projects.

You therefore need to discuss with the project team not only what knowledge the project needs, but what knowledge the project will create. You may want to rank these knowledge outputs in order of importance for the rest of the organisation, although the project team may not be the best placed people to comment on this.

The KM plan

The project will already have various plans to manage it's resources - a manpower plan, a financial plan etc. The conversation about knowledge inputs and outputs, and any actions that should be assigned to gather the inputs and plan to create the outputs, should be recorded in a project Knowledge Management plan which will act as the governance document for KM in the project. This KM plan can be part of the project plan, or a standalone document. It should be reviewed by the project management team on a regular basis, just the same as the financial plan, the manpower plan, the risk plan etc. 

Projects require knowledge, and create knowledge. This makes them a core component of the knowledge workstream within the organisation. Hence the need for a project KM plan. 

No comments:

Blog Archive