How to evaluate a computer system for knowledge management?
As we saw earlier, the elements for evaluation of knowledge management software are:
- Maturity of the organization for IT management.
- Software features.
- Value proposition manufacturer.
- Using the software. Value.
- Custom development.
- Consulting and Support.
In previous postes we present the preliminary considerations for evaluating a Knowledge Management computer system and develop points 1 and 2. Now we address the rest.
MANUFACTURER’S VALUE PROPOSITION
More important than software’s features is the manufacturer’s Value Proposition, in order to ensure the proper functioning of the system. It’s necessary they assess Installation, Configuration, Operation and Maintenance, as well as training, the functionality to fit and, of course, the software’s value and licensing scheme.
Within manufacturer’s Value Proposition it is appropriate to assess their technical and training, career, business strategy and customer satisfaction outlooks.
EDUCATION AND TRAINING
Training is key and comprehensive process to guide system’s installation, configuration, operation and maintenance. It should be fast and must generate a pleasant experience, providing learning, growth and new tools and not increasing workload.
The training is carried out based on software’s conceptual framework, structure and functionality. It includes good practices, functionality, tools, continuous improvement, tips, and maintenance of the system. It is usually directed to:
- Non-technical staff
- Administrative staff
- technical staff (maintenance)
It is desirable that participants in training programs get academic’s certification in operation or expertise’s (technical) levels.
COMMUNITIES OF PRACTICE
The Knowledge Management program is usually focused to the first KM Community of Practice, to disseminate learning and outcomes, supported on relevant documents.
In the initial phase the group should be heterogeneous, representing all levels of the organization, with the same power of decision for all individuals, regardless of their hierarchy. In later phases communities of practice are usually specialized groups from functional areas (p. Eg. Marketing, product’s development) to deepen knowledge management, practically.
Corporate University has its primary goal to determine the “organizational curriculum”, with the contents of knowledge and practice, assessment tools and certification required for each person, in order to learn, develop the necessary skills for their regular performance, and make relevant and verifiable proposals for innovation, to improve effectiveness and efficiency as well as to stimulate individual’s development and career plans in the organization.
Developping Corporate University is a matter of the highest level in the organization, it requires deep knowledge and a high Knowledge Management development program.In this case the software is a tool that facilitates complex process that involve experts, workers, knowledge, procedures, programs and resources of learning and practice, among other things.
INSTALlATION AND CONFIGURATION
The service varies by manufacturer. Physical installation is relatively quick and incorporates the software component and security, communications and other to access protocols and system’s control, before configuration. Some manufacturers have “lab tests”, on-line, to expedite the process before final installation. In some cases the installation includes technical training.
Configuration however is a complex task that requires identifying and classifying processes, based on their relevance to the scope of the strategic objectives of the organization as create records, access rules and parameters defined for users. The configuration process is usually done based on the diagnostic results. At this stage it’s advisable to use procedures for “Agile” projects in order to deliver maximum value in minimum time.
 Based on the Scrum Methodology, identified and defined by Ikujiro Nonaka and Hirotaka Takeuchi.
After configuration, theoretically the system is ready for operation. But it requires “the integration of people,” task that involves a process of transfering, training and organizational knowledge and learning, conducted by a Leadership Team to train experts, transmit learning and train the rest of the organization in order to “internalize” the system.
Personal page’s users usually consider the position, goals and management in the workplace, with access permissions, acquired knowledge (qualifications and training), developed knowledge (documents made, ideas presented) and map showing abilities to generate new knowledge, as well as the breadth and efficiency of people’s network. Personal pages should allow data such as hobbies and personal interests, search option information within and outside the organization, and document library, templates or presentations.
 In Cesoft Colombia we suggest to assign a project’s leader, accompanied by a KM inter-disciplinary Committee,
In a structured software maintenance is reduced to regular monitoring of the system. It is different from updating integrated periodically into the system, according to progress of software or protocols.
It is desirable that the manufacturer’s value proposition seeks a self-sufficient system, that can be improved internally both, metric configuration and maintenance of the system.
In some cases, when the organization has made substantial progress in Knowledge Management or in accordance with the the Strategic Knowledge Management Proposal goals, they must need the addition of special features. The most common are:
- Yellow Pages
- Documentaries libraries
- Content manager
- Learning manager
- News Letters manager
- Social manager
- Positioning manager
- Calendar manager
- Translation (languages) managers
- E-mail manager
- Chat manager
- Voice communication manager
- Exchange data with other GIS modules such as LDAP, SAP or Moodle.
- Technological integration to facilitate access from mobile devices.
- Collaborative functions like forums and wikis, open or closed.
- Value Chain Drive.
- Graphical representation of processes.
- Audits for official standardization or compliance.
- IT infrastructure as a service – IAS
Some software brands include these functions. Some of them need special protocols and are not usually installed as standard. If available it can be integrated quickly and at low cost, otherwise require time to development and have a higher economic value.
 Infrastructure as Service (for its acronym). Service that allows dynamic operation of the system to expand or reduce capacity according use, which aims to minimize consumption, reduced investment, fixed assets and costs significantly, in some periods it may be zero.
Traditionally software value management information is determined by the number of users and is offered under the SAS (Software as Service) or perpetual licensing modalities.
It’s recently observed proposals for an unlimited number of users and a service value for the use of the platform, unlicensed software and IAS.
In this context it is convenient to a cost-benefit analysis to weigh intangible values provided by the manufacturer.
CONSULTANCY AND SUPPORT
Comprehensive Knowledge Management is a complex challenge because they transform the organization. Set it up can generate adaptation’s traumas and difficulties, because not all leaders and team members are involved in the concerned activities have the required skills or are at the right time to address the process under their responsibility.
Computer Knowledge Management is global. It involves all members of the organization: officers, employees, suppliers and other stakeholders. Managing change is desirable to align the goals and support leaders and teams involved in Knowledge, Learning and Innovation Management.
This exercise requires guidance and support. The transformation process often incorporate social and professional, specialized and experienced help technologies, in order to accompany the coaching process through executive and equipment exercises.
It’s clear that information is NOT knowledge, as well as the information systems are increasingly used in modern organizations and are useful to operate in a complex organizational hyper-informed, immersed in a process of continuous change environment, governed by objectives, business units, teams, processes, activities, tasks, responsibilities, policies, standards, procedures, machines, applications, tools, social networks and other systems of different types.
The selection of the software tool is a complex issue that involves technological, human and economic resources, and must be adapted to the organization’s short and medium term requirements. It is an acute decision that should be properly evaluated to understand their place and time in the process, under different angles.
Knowledge Management comes of age by integrating Social Knowledge Management and considering the Knowledge Management Information Systems, a complex and relatively unexplored issues,