Business processes as part of KM Strategy

Several years ago, when I was still actively working in the KM business, I proposed to a client that the following four things would make up a “knowledge management solution” for the organization:

  1. Personal Information Management tools
  2. Team Collaboration and Information Management tools (this is where the obligatory document repository resided)
  3. Organizational Processes / Information Infrastructure
  4. Customer Relationship Management

For those of you following the recent, sometimes heated, discussion concerning Personal Knowledge Management** you know that tools and techniques for individuals are key to a successful concept of KM today. Likewise, team tools for the management of information and the connection of individuals into social networks is a key for innovation at the organizational level. CRM seems to be a world of its own, and in many ways today is really more information management than knowledge management.

Which leaves number 3 – Organizational Processes and Information Infrastructure. Although it had always seemed somewhat obvious to me that every part of an organization should use the same information, not copies of information, I’ve begun to doubt that lately. It still seems that from a theoretical standpoint this is how it should be, but from a practical standpoint sometimes it just seems too hard to do.

I was pleasantly surprised, therefore, to see Research project: Integration of business process support with knowledge management posted by Jack Vinson. His post points to a research project headed up by Dr. Ilia Bider of IbisSoft:

Project Summary:

For knowledge management to be of use in an organization, it should be seamlessly incorporated in everyday business activities. Much of business activities, especially on operational level, are structured around business processes, for example, order processing, preparation of budget, or negotiation. Knowledge management needs to be integrated with these processes, which means that a system that supports business processes should also support knowledge management. The objective with the project is to work out techniques for developing integrated process and knowledge management systems, and investigate effects of introducing such a system in operational practice, e.g., effects on productivity, internal cooperation, democracy in organizational life, etc. The project’s objectives will be pursued through field studies at an interest organization that is currently introducing an integrated process and knowledge support system in its operational practice. In addition, new features for integrated systems will be investigated, designed and implemented as prototypes.

I, personally, am very anxious to see what their results are. I only hope I don’t have to wait until late 2006 to see some preliminary results from their study!!

** Here’s a good place to start if you’ve not been following the PKM discussion.