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IT Infrastructure and Knowledge Management in CAs Office


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IT Infrastructure and Knowledge Management in CAs Office

  1. 1. Ideal IT Infrastructure and Knowledge Management in a Practicing CA’s Office CA. B.C.Chechani Indian Chartered Accountant | Entrepreneur | Domain Expert for CRM, Knowledge Mgmt. & Professional Services Automation Email : Cell : + 9769476214 1 | Ideal IT Infrastructure and Knowledge Management in a Practicing CA‟s Office
  2. 2. CA firms are functioning in a world where they must necessarily process more and more information in every part of the practice , not only to be competitive enough to maintain their standards of reputation but also be equipped enough to offer single stop solutions to clients to ensure profitable, fool proof intellectual consulting . Management of intellectual capital is gaining importance in today‟s knowledge society in every segment. Currently, knowledgebase of CA firms is mostly “People Based.” If you don't know something, you do research or you request to a knowledgeable firm member. This increases the individual knowledge but it is not readily available to other firm members. Because firm members have different skills, it is an on-going challenge to have the right knowledge, at the right place and at the right time. It becomes quite important for you to introspect, as you are the most trustworthy people in business, your understanding of Information Technology, Knowledge Management and your current standing on the same. The rate of technological change is increasing at an ever quickening pace making technology standards a moving target. Advances in hardware must be integrated into the existing infrastructure as well as a constant stream of application updates and system patches. Amidst all of these firms are facing the transition to a complete digital (often referred to as paperless environment , where all personnel must evolve their working process and adapt their systems for handling information in an electronic format only). With all of these happening at once, it is important that firms have a place to ensure that the strategic benefits of technology are properly managed. The most effective firms have achieved success by creating a technology management team that systematically analyses the firm‟s infrastructure, the tools and technologies that are evolving and build a well integrated technology plan and budget to optimize their implementation. IT Infrastructure Management The first step in effective technology management is to ensure that either right players are involved or the work of effective IT management is sourced to trustworthy IT Facilities Management Company with the knowledge of cost effective IT implementations. It is imperative that an owner or partner should look into it so that approval of any initiatives can be taken faster. The views and need of IT requirement from partners/members from tax and audit practice should be sought equally and addressed adequately. 2 | Ideal IT Infrastructure and Knowledge Management in a Practicing CA‟s Office
  3. 3. Components of IT Infrastructure Management Hardware Management: Hardware constitutes major area of IT infrastructure management. Hardware infrastructure can be broken down in to below mentioned components. Network Servers: Network Server should be of reputed brands or be at least of standard server configurations that are procured from a reliable vendor/s with a good after sales service reputation. Network & Remote Access: Switches should be used rather than HUB to connect individual‟s users . Switches are faster and less affected by network traffic and is definitely a little cheaper. Cable is the medium through which information usually moves from one network device to another. There are several types of cable which are commonly used with LANs. In some cases, a network will utilize only one type of cable, other networks will use a variety of cable types. Every dead or unusable connection slows down the entire network and also becomes the reason for data loss. Structured cabling is advisable which would facilitate proper management and networking of PCs and would help in easy future expansions without interruption in the working of the firm. Network Operating System (NOS): MS Windows Server 2003 is the most recent and widely accepted, stable operating system available in the market. This is very easy to use, uncomplicated and easily configurable hence it is advisable to procure the same. All products should be acquired through proper authorized vendors which allow the end user to reap great benefits. Desktops & Workstations: PCs should be procured with optimal configuration with maximum RAM for multi tasking and wide screen monitors to view multiple screens at a time. Laptop workstations: It is very beneficial for members working out of office / mobile and needs ever time connectivity. Laptops with configuration of six months/ one year behind are available at affordable prices. Laptop computers are small, batterypowered, lightweight and ideal for those who require portability. Desktop Operating System: Operating system should support to all applications used in office and be supported by sufficient RAM. Your Operating system should facilitate usage of any software with smooth transition. OS should also be able to work on cross platform applications. 3 | Ideal IT Infrastructure and Knowledge Management in a Practicing CA‟s Office
  4. 4. Backup Computers: One or two dedicated back up computer/s is advisable for replacement in case of problem and minimize the down time and to ensure no productivity is loss and continuity. Printers: Use of laser printers instead of inkjet with standardized brands is advisable. Laser printer is a common type of computer printer that produces high quality printing, and is able to produce both text and graphics. LaserJet printers have higher RAM capabilities for executing complex printing jobs. DeskJet do not have high RAM capabilities, i.e., one LaserJet can handle the load of 2 inkjet printers. Scanners: Scanners make the whole task of documentation management very cost effective now. Every CA‟s office should adapt to digital imaging of any document. Due to scanning every document can be delivered through email and also can be viewed from multiple locations (no copy and send hurdles). Personal Digital Assistant (PDA): PDA‟s can be used by all members and staff who remain out of office. As a part of Hardware Management I recommend that firms pull together a comprehensive inventory of all existing hardware components along with service and warranty details. Software Requirement Implementation: Analysis, Procurement & Firm wide Applications: It is important for any CA firm to analyze the type of applications that are used across the firm as well the applications that are limited to a few desktops. The firm wide applications should strike a balance between the ones that are used by all the members like Microsoft Office as well as the applications needed to establish an undisputed specialization that the firm wants. It is recommended that multiple versions of any software should be stopped running. A system towards saving of all documents that are generated through Microsoft Office or any specialized application should be put in place immediately and Firm wide applications should have the facility to import and store the documents generated through the usage of applications and a smart record management system that ensures the quick retrieval of records as and when required. Web Site Development & Promotion: Our web site is the best communicator to its visitors. While developing web site, try to talk what the visitors want to hear and in their language. Enumerate what value 4 | Ideal IT Infrastructure and Knowledge Management in a Practicing CA‟s Office
  5. 5. your firm brings to them, very clearly and consistently. Your clients should be clearly show dynamism and image of the firm. Irrespective of the size of your firm, go ahead with an investment in website. This not only offers out of the box business opportunities but also help in creating a brand. However the guidelines suggested by the Institute of Chartered Accountant of India will have to be followed for usage of the web. eNews Letters CA Firms realize that the development of a successful niche practice can be very profitable. Accordingly, they invest in CPE, seminars, and their niche time to develop niche expertise. Using digital newsletters, or “eLetters (delivered via email)”. This allows firms to contact clients as often as you would like, for a fractional costs. Additionally, eLetters have the added benefit of not only making the firms appear more technologically advanced but also appear more knowledgeable than competitors. To successfully develop an eLetter, firms must obtain and maintain an email list, develop and archive content, and deliver content consistently. Information Security CAs control a significant amount of financial information / documents on their networks and this information could be extremely valuable if not protected, so it is their responsibility to do so. Protection begins with proper procedures to lock down data on the network such that unauthorized people do not have access. Changing passwords on a frequent basis (six months or less) and utilizing screensaver passwords on workstations are a minimum requirement. Contact Management A CA firm is a wealth of information existing in countless forms/documents. As a professional services provider, CAs enjoys the trust of client's like no other industry. Successful maintenance of these bonds requires concise communication of information on all client-related activities - including the performance of actual work. On the service side, relationship management systems allow the firm to track client calls, emails, etc., record and monitor service issues and convey critical information on assignments. The contact management allows you to immediately discuss client billing issues, convey the status of the assignment you are about to execute, review prior discussions with staff on the problems with data received and access supporting work papers and other documentation while the client is on the phone. This immediacy provides a greater professional image and a more informed client. Tax Return Automation Software 5 | Ideal IT Infrastructure and Knowledge Management in a Practicing CA‟s Office
  6. 6. Tax calculation tools and workflow tools are readily available now-a-days. Statutory dates and return tracking tools have always been a feature of the firm‟s practice management program, but they have evolved to a stage where firms are now successfully using them. As clients deliver their tax materials, leading firms are recording this information in their due date programs and tracking progress by updating milestones for preparation, review, signing and extension, which provides real time status on every return. Having the current and prior year‟s return available concurrently onscreen significantly increases the productivity and greatly reduces work in the Tax filing season. Digital Tax Library Today in India we have the availability of Tax Laws and Cases on conventional electronic media formats like CD‟s and also the availability of the same online on web. Due to this referencing of the acts, rules, procedures, notification, circulars, case laws, new updated forms etc. can be easily made available through out the firm. Updated libraries of these CD‟s should be maintained by every CA Firm. Firms can also subscribe to web service providers who run online libraries and update related information continually. Digital Audit & Audit Tools Audit is one of the most integral activity of a CA Firm. In India digital audit programs have been gathering more and more acceptance and many digital audit tools are available very easily. It helps CA Firms to benefit from developed audit programs as a support for the auditors. Besides providing support to the auditors, these programs are also an instrument to assure the quality of the audit. One way that digital audit maximize the audit efficiency is by refining the work in organizational terms as well as on the individual level. The tools should address auditing, audit selection and tax matters, underreporting in the tax, tax evasion etc. Electronic Document & Smart File Management Applications An unbelievable amount of time can be wasted looking for files you don't remember the names of. If you look around your office network, you are likely to find an amazing number of files that no one owns because they were never named intelligently to begin with. One senior professional was telling me that he nearly missed a flight after a meeting in which one-third of the time was spent hunting for files and folders for the documents. The problem is file naming and saving conventions always differ from person to person. 6 | Ideal IT Infrastructure and Knowledge Management in a Practicing CA‟s Office
  7. 7. Documents are the lifeblood of every CA firm. In today's work place, every body uses software applications like MS Word and Excel to create documents. Any manually prepared work papers should be questioned to determine if their preparation was the most efficient way of creating them. One essential element of an electronic document culture is an electronic file storage structure that is easy to use and adequate for maintaining this electronic information. This electronic document emphasis should start by the elimination of manual work papers and less generation of O/C (Office copies) and best efforts to organize documents in soft form itself. The hard copy documents which we may receive from clients/ tax departments and other sources etc. can be scanned and organized is a systematic manner for faster retrieval in future. You need a system to effectively organizes Microsoft Office documents so that an authorized user can retrieve any document at any point of time, independent of the creator, time and the computer it was saved. Being a prerequisite of Knowledge Management this topic is covered in a greater detail in discussion of Knowledge Management. Knowledge Management At the completion of every assignment, firm personnel should devote sufficient time to analyze what they learned from the completed assignment, discuss how they could have improved upon the quality and how this information could be applied and beneficial to future assignments. The results of these meetings should be documented, including supporting schedules and processes, and other potential benefits of the information should be identified. What is Knowledge Management, how it is beneficial and how it can be implemented in a practicing CA Office has been discussed in detail separately. Document Automation Tools Automated document assembly tools ca n restructure the methods CAs use for repetitive drafting tasks, like routine complaints in Tax appeal cases or documents prepared in uncomplicated real estate matters. Document assembly can also support more complicated transactions if the documents needed to complete the transactions do not require large amounts of customized drafting. Many types of software provide document automation solutions that give end users the power to create text-based templates and assemble text documents. The result is an automatically compiled and flawless document. Few of the software that are available in market are Activedocs, Hotdoc etc. 7 | Ideal IT Infrastructure and Knowledge Management in a Practicing CA‟s Office
  8. 8. Practice Management System Practice Management Application will cover complete assignment cycle from Acceptance to the completion of the assignment. In an accounting practice, the software application can be used for Acceptance, Allocation, Workflow, Progress Reporting, Monitoring, Completion, Approval & Delivery of assignments. Collaboration & Messaging Applications These applications include tools that allow individuals to communicate and share information effectively in an electronic format. E-mail has become almost universal amongst business people to converse and transfer information, and its close relative Instant Message (IM) allows collaboration in real time with minimal system overhead. Messaging applications have evolved to voice mail and messaging being incorporated into these email systems providing the capability to move them like any other electronic document and either play them in their native format or convert them to text, depending on the recipient‟s requirements. Financials Every firm should select the best tool like an accounting package which can help you to maintain your accounts on receipt basis. Also, apart from implementing an IT tool to handle your financials, this tool has to be managed which includes Pipeline Reporting, Simplify Expense Reporting etc. in a very pro-active manner. Learning & Training Management With technology being introduced at an increasingly faster rate, it is imperative that CAs make a conscious effort to understand and utilize those technologies within their organizations. The best firms have a structure in place to identify the most effective client service processes and standardize them as part of a “Standard Procedures” concept. Many firms nowadays also have a person dedicated to training firm personnel and developing an ongoing learning curriculum to optimize the effectiveness of each individual. Its very obvious that best technologies can be implemented within organizatio ns. It is important to have at least one member of your organization responsible for keeping on top of technologies as they evolve and making the determination of how you can benefit. Asset Management Most accounting firms have difficulty keeping an accurate inventory of their technologies. Keeping inventory of workstation models/types, operating system 8 | Ideal IT Infrastructure and Knowledge Management in a Practicing CA‟s Office
  9. 9. versions, hard drive sizes, amount of RAM, access level rights, software applications in use etc. is very hard to track manually. All of this information must be considered when preparing IT budgets or when allocating equipment to new staff. Inventory can be collected at regular user-defined intervals to ensure that the firm always has access to up-to-date asset inventory information. Disaster Recovery CAs today are extremely reliant on their IT infrastructure to service clients. Any loss in the ability to access network resources translates directly into lost profitability so firms must do all they can to protect their information network. This begins by first ensuring that all data is backed up, verified, and stored offsite in a format that is easily accessible in the event of any disaster. The firm should also develop a business continuation plan that outlines the network infrastructure and includes processes to rebuild this if necessary. Anti Virus/ Anti Spam Solutions & Firewalls In this modern era of Information Technology, many unwanted hindrances like viruses and spam mails too have to be faced by firms accepting IT as a leveraging tool to enhance their efficiency. Though no fool proof tools exist firms need to rely on prevention and damage control tactics like acquiring regular updates of anti viruses across office network, locking down mischievous mails and pornographic sites, verifying the locks are working and implement Firewalls to stop remote unauthorized connectivity through internet/IP access Authentication & Password Management User authentication and password protection are the most basic and a very easy technology that can be implemented by firm owners. Not limiting to this, most of the application and system software are equipped with an facility to authenticate users with a password. Though provided the firm management must take care that these passwords and users are managed appropriately and changed at regular intervals to maintain the consistency of then security level in the firms. Storage & Back up Management As days pass by firms who have already implemented IT will have to seriously evaluate the amount of information they generate and the volume of information that they may churn out in a stipulated time period. Firms must make provision to occupy all the information that is generated and see to it that the information that they might want to store has necessarily an excellent business value. Not only this, firm management must be alert enough to implement appropriate backup policies and find out an effective way to backup all information daily and 9 | Ideal IT Infrastructure and Knowledge Management in a Practicing CA‟s Office
  10. 10. periodically. Firm authorities should ensure that all the data /documents should be backed up and stored away safely in case of an emergency situation. Strategies for successful IT Management Evaluate Current IT infrastructure You need to analyze your software and hardware equipments and decide whether to acquire more and/or update existing hardware and software. Analyze Departmental Process & Procedures Conduct interview of selected personnel via group discussions (tax, audit, accounting, administration etc.) to determine bottlenecks and redundancy and make recommendations to improve these situations . Stabilize Existing IT Infrastructure Environment All your efforts to establish an appropriate IT set up will go waste unless you dedicate time to stabilize the usage of the existing IT setup and put efforts to see that the end user accepts the change and the investment in IT is exploited through massive usage by the firm employees and other partners. A few to do this can be derived through maximizing usage of existing applications, budget allocation for training on existing platforms, standardize firm wise best practices for usage of IT applications and stress on planning towards paperless (less papers) office environment. Advantages of an Ideal IT Set UP A Firm with ideal IT infrastructure will have distinct advantages over competitors. Profits will be derived in long term directly as tangible gain or intangible assets. Operating costs will be minimal (without the overhead), and most important, there will be complete access to the world market without geographic, legal, or political barriers. These features in conjunction with innovative marketing strategies, should allow the CA Office, to quickly overcome its competition and become a leader in its field of consulting. 10 | Ideal IT Infrastructure and Knowledge Management in a Practicing CA‟s Office
  11. 11. Knowledge Management in Practicing CA’s Office Most firms‟ knowledge is also “Paper-Based” and when you want information about a client, you check with the paper file. The firm‟s policies and procedures are restricted in employee‟s handbook, appointment programs, and other written materials. Paper-based information is typically time consuming to access and relatively unstructured. A lot of the communications with clients (client knowledge) goes unrecorded. Letters documents, memos, and tax returns are maintained in client files. This knowledge about the clients exists only in the memories of the firm members concerned. Sharing this type of knowledge with other firm members occurs only occasionally. If the firm member concerned leaves the firm, this knowledge is lost. The way knowledge is maintained in CA firms today is in the same way it was managed 5 years ago. Using Groupware, Document Management and Knowledge Management solutions, firms can enhance and organize their knowledge base and also reduce the efforts put into acquiring it. What is Knowledge? Knowledge is     What What What What your ideas are? you have read? you have heard? you imagine? Knowledge often is being considered the property of individuals while a great deal of knowledge is produced and held collectively. Such knowledge is generated when people work together. Most of you can not articulate what you know. Knowledge is largely invisible and often comes to mind only when you need it to answer a question or solve a problem. Difference Wisdom between Data, information, Knowledge & To understand the meaning of knowledge you need to understand what knowledge actually is, and how it is different from data, information, and wisdom. Data: Data can be defined as unstructured information. It simply exists and has no significance beyond its existence. 11 | Ideal IT Infrastructure and Knowledge Management in a Practicing CA‟s Office
  12. 12. Information: Data becomes information when its creator adds meaning, which makes it relevant and fulfills a purpose. Knowledge: knowledge is the right collection of information, such that its intent is to be useful. It originates and applied in the minds of knowledge owner. Wisdom: Wisdom is the process by which you judge between right and wrong, good and bad. Computers do not have, and will never have the ability to posses wisdom. Classification of Knowledge Explicit Knowledge Explicit knowledge is the kind of knowledge that is relatively easily put down on paper or into another media and directly accessible to the persons one wishes to transfer knowledge to. An example could be a CA Firm‟s repository of template documents or it could be repositories of various procedures, case laws or judgments etc. with comments attached for better understanding. Tacit Knowledge You know more than what you can tell and hence tacit knowledge is not easily transferred. Generally, transfer of tacit knowledge requires extensive personal contact and meetings etc. There is no argument that tacit knowledge plays an important role in the way you make decisions and perform your work. To illustrate, look at the Audit Manager. Over the course of an audit, the audit manager has to make many decisions, such as how to allocate resources, when to escalate a problem, who to rely on etc. Each of these actions and decisions requires explicit and tacit knowledge in varying proportions. The tacit knowledge might consist of things like "gut feelings," experience or some other knowledge that you can't find in books or in audit documentation. In most of these situations, there is a strong emphasis placed on good documentation. The problem is that current documentation methods have provided us with little help in capturing, retaining, and sharing all that important tacit knowledge. What is Knowledge Management (KM)? Knowledge Management is a concept in which an organization leverages its collective wisdom to increase responsiveness, efficiency and productivity. KM 12 | Ideal IT Infrastructure and Knowledge Management in a Practicing CA‟s Office
  13. 13. enables an enterprise to gather, organize and share its knowledge in terms of resources, documents and people‟s skills. It is a cost saving process that enhances performance. KM Components “While technology and processes are important to Knowledge Management , it is people who determines its success” Knowledge Management in CA firms Studies reveal that more than 80% knowledge of a CA firm is stored in documents. These documents which can be stored as standard formats, templates, model documents, letter formats, procedures and other information are referred to as knowledge documents. The ultimate value of documentation in a CA Firms lies in the ability to capture, retain, and share knowledge to those who need to use it. Each and every action and decision taken within the CA Firms is dependent on knowledge. If document management is going to play a role in meeting the needs of today's CA Firms, then it means your documents will need to become better vehicles to capture, retain, transfer, and use of knowledge, both explicit as well as tacit. However, at the same time you upgrade your documentation methods, you must also expand the way you think about the content. There is more to the knowledge life cycle than just the creation process. You also need to enhance your understanding of how knowledge contained in documents is retained, maintained, shared, and made workable. First change that the CA firms need to make in the knowledge collection process is by means of increasing the emphasis on electronic documents. This electronic 13 | Ideal IT Infrastructure and Knowledge Management in a Practicing CA‟s Office
  14. 14. document importance should start by the removal of manual work papers. Efficiencies will be gained through easier editing and reuse of documents. You do the work once, document it, and store it electronically for future use. Then, when the right occasion arises, you use this electronic document, with appropriate editing, to meet the needs of some other client or another assignment. The software for creating electronic documents is readily available. Office applications such as Microsoft® Word and Excel are being used in almost every CA firm. One essential element of an electronic document culture is an electronic file storage structure that is easy to use and adequate for maintaining these electronic documents. You need a uniform file naming system and well defined folder hierarchy to store/save documents so that will help you to create office documents faster & smarter. Microsoft® Word and Excel should be used for each and every documentation need and any manually prepared document should be questioned to determine if their preparation was the most efficient way of creating them? KM Process Problem Areas of Knowledge Loss and Retention Members and employees of the CA firms often spend their precious time for a futile search of knowledge, which they require to fulfill their job requirements. The required knowledge is somewhere available in the firm‟s document repository but is not accessible when needed. 14 | Ideal IT Infrastructure and Knowledge Management in a Practicing CA‟s Office
  15. 15. Studies show that by implementation of Knowledge Management Solution, the productivity can be increased at least by 30 % . Examples of missing Knowledge Retention  A number of qualified or semi qualified professionals or employees in a CA Firm work on similar problems. They may not know about the activities and expertise of the others. Result: Duplication of work.  One professional or a team of professional has developed an extremely efficient system to work upon a particular assignment. Other members in the firm should profit from their methods. However, there is no policy or system to share this knowledge. Result: Knowledge cannot be reused and is forgotten in a short period.  A partner tries to secure a new client or a new assignment from an existing client. But the deal does not go through. The reasons for this failure or success are not always documented and communicated. Result: Other partners or employees do not learn from this experience and repeats the same mistake.  A client complains about the delivery of service but also gives suggestions for its improvement. This information is usually appreciated, but it is seldom communicated to the other others. Result: Useful user related knowledge cannot be utilized for service quality enhancement.  An assignment has come to a conclusion. The assignment management has all the finding and results. But the whole process with all the "trials & errors", the faults, the negative results and "lessons learned" are usually not documented. Result: Expertise and knowledge cannot be communicated and shared.  A professional or an employee is leaving the firm. His knowledge has not yet been transferred to the others. Result: Knowledge loss. For example, personal notes documentation is also useless unless the others know about it. and 15 | Ideal IT Infrastructure and Knowledge Management in a Practicing CA‟s Office
  16. 16.  A partner or an employee suddenly gets ill. He is the only one, who through his experience knows what to do when a certain document or set of documents not traceable. Result: An expensive search for that expertise and knowledge. KM: A Roadmap to Excellence Smart File Management Organizing office documents effectively so that an authorized user can retrieve any document at any point of time, independent of the creator, time and the computer it was saved on. Record Management What documents generated and when? Who generated? Where they were saved? Who have access? List of all documents Knowledge Management A system to identify knowledge documents from working documents. A central repository of knowledge documents to make them available to authorized users instantly Continuity Management 16 | Ideal IT Infrastructure and Knowledge Management in a Practicing CA‟s Office
  17. 17. Easier transfer of operation knowledge from departing/already departed employees to their successors and easier handover of work in progress. Implementation of KM in CA Firms - Step 1: Identification of the "real" Problem. You need to assess the risk of losing critical and valuable knowledge and skills. The following questions and other weaknesses in your firm need to be identified. It should be clear that Knowledge Management Solutions are implemented to avoid knowledge loss. A roadmap has to be formulated as to what is to be achieved with KM solution.          Do the partners/employees have access to a common knowledgebase? Do the expertise in the core areas and processes collected and documented? Does these expertise shared between the partners/emp loyees? Can the experience gained from the assignments be reused again and thoroughly? Does the knowledge of partners/employees available during their absence? Is there any transfer procedures defined, if the partner/employee changes their work profile? Is there an imminent retirement of important partners/employees planned? Can the new professionals / employees be trained quickly? Do you lose knowledge of temporary workforce? Step 2: Identify what knowledge is to be retained, and specify how and in which form. You need to define and decide the critical areas of knowledge which are to be retained by your firm. These could be expertise, ideas, competencies, processes, client‟s information and / or assignments. You need to plan the structure as how to build your knowledge repository, which are stored as central repository and well categorized. Individual knowledge retention is also important; you should create your specific knowledge documents and be careful to take your time while categorizing. Step 3: Definition of the Knowledge and the role of employees to capture and organize it. 17 | Ideal IT Infrastructure and Knowledge Management in a Practicing CA‟s Office
  18. 18. After the successful completion of the first two steps, you should have the following documents:    Identification of critical and problem areas associated with knowledge loss The goal you want to achieve through a KM solution One hierarchical structure of important knowledge areas and structure to store knowledge documents. It should be decided that who will be responsible to assess, capture, manage and store valuable knowledge in a KM solution. First, it is to be determined who is going to be the knowledge manager. He determines the access rights of the users. Then it is to be decided whether the user is responsible to store his knowledge or is it the knowledge manager. Step 4: Integration and Setup of KM Solution One should take care that KM Solution must be so defined that it functions permanently and adds value continuously. The values generated over a period of time, have to be integrated again in the process. In the beginning, it generates and selects new critical knowledge in important service processes or knowledge areas. Step 5: Supervision and Assistance in Feedback and transfer of Knowledge back into the Firm. You should define the specific points where the knowledge, as an added value, should be transferred back into your firm. This should happen irrespective of what knowledge a user is looking for in the knowledge base using your KM solution. Check list, for example, can be added to an existing service process. The users involved should be advised to search the knowledge base for a particular theme and note down whether knowledge was found or not. If it was found, can it be used by all the members of the firm? It also opens the opportunity for new employees. After a period of 6-12 months, a review should be conducted among those employees, who were either knowledge experts or users in this Knowledge Management Solution and the results should be adapted. Benefits of Knowledge Management Solution: In today‟s competitive professional environment, knowledge management is a need like word processing or e-mail. It is difficult to measure advantages of knowledge management in rupee terms. It is apparent that the intangible benefits of knowledge management are more significant indicators of its importance. Saves Precious Time and effectively Money: can generate more money. You can save time. It means, you 18 | Ideal IT Infrastructure and Knowledge Management in a Practicing CA‟s Office
  19. 19. Quick services to clients: You can more efficiently produce documents and deliver them to your clients faster and thus offer a better quality of service. This makes you more effective and has clear benefits for client relationship management. Improved Service Quality: You capture your specialist knowledge in a document or system. The quality of your advice will be better because you know more or have the critical high value information readily available to you, and the quality of your documents will be better because it incorporates the accumulated wisdom of a range of experts. Increase Efficiency and enhance productivity: Good KM Solution makes life easier. It makes possible to find what you want when you want it. This increases productivity and reduces stress. No adverse effect on transfer/leave of staff: Capturing knowledge in a system means that it doesn‟t walk out of the door if an individual leaves the firm. Some would argue that it is impossible to capture the „tacit‟ knowledge that resides in the minds of individuals. This is without doubt true. However, if you can describe the behavior of an individual in a particular circumstance and put that description into a system accessible by others, you enable other members of the firm / employees to learn from that behavior and facilitate the transfer of the relevant knowledge and skills. Improved Learning Environment: Good knowledge management helps professionals and employees of the firm to learn more from other members in the firm, ensuring that firm expertise is captured, retained and made available. Faster Learning to new Entrants: Effective knowledge management assists in the introduction of new members/employees into the firm. It makes easier for new entrants to identify firm‟s working style and to match firm‟s quality requirements. Effective Collaboration: Effective knowledge management facilitates collaboration. It does this by maintaining a shared database of resources credited to authors, and by having an expertise location system. Best Utilization of IT resources: Good knowledge management can improve utilization of existing resources, including technology. At many firms computers are being used as electronic type writers in the absence of document management and KM solution. Be More Competitive: If a firm‟s competitors are using KM Solution and as a result are more effective, and if your firm wants to survive and expand, you must do it too. 19 | Ideal IT Infrastructure and Knowledge Management in a Practicing CA‟s Office