Knowledge Management

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Knowledge management issues and solutions at the project level

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Knowledge Management

  1. 1. Unstructured knowledge management techniques in the project management of software development Elaine Aitken [email_address]
  2. 2. Overview <ul><li>Types of knowledge </li></ul><ul><li>Knowledge management </li></ul><ul><li>Research purpose and findings </li></ul><ul><li>Trying something new </li></ul><ul><li>Please ask questions at any time </li></ul>
  3. 3. KNOWLEDGE
  4. 4. Trial and error Books Demo Immersion
  5. 5. Project management equivalents <ul><li>Judging contingency </li></ul><ul><li>Estimating timescales </li></ul><ul><li>Evaluating risk </li></ul><ul><li>Assigning priorities </li></ul><ul><li>Knowing who to go to </li></ul><ul><li>Influencing a team to do what is needed </li></ul><ul><li>Getting things done </li></ul>
  6. 6. So embedded that it’s invisible 10/09/08
  7. 7. The wisdom of Rumsfeld There are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns - the ones we don't know we don't know What about the unknown knowns?
  8. 8. KNOWLEDGE MANAGEMENT
  9. 9. What is Knowledge Management? <ul><li>The mistaken idea that what is in peoples heads (knowledge) is fundamentally the same stuff as can be documented in words, pictures charts etc (information). ... www.information-alchemy.co.uk/glossary.htm </li></ul><ul><li>A range of practices used by organisations to identify, create, represent, and distribute knowledge en.wiktionary.org/wiki/knowledge management </li></ul><ul><li>The process of systematically and actively managing and leveraging the stores of knowledge in an organisation is called knowledge management. It is the process of transforming information and intellectual assets into enduring value. www.unisa.edu.au/pas/qap/planning/glossary.asp </li></ul><ul><li>Discipline within an organisation that ensures that the intellectual capabilities of an organisation are shared , maintained and institutionalised . www.infodiv.unimelb.edu.au/knowledgebase/itservices/a-z/k.html </li></ul>
  10. 10. Purpose of the research <ul><li>What are the perceived benefits of knowledge management? </li></ul><ul><li>What techniques do project managers use to capture knowledge? </li></ul><ul><li>Where are these techniques are lacking? </li></ul><ul><li>What could be used at a project level to improve on existing techniques? </li></ul>
  11. 12. Benefits and techniques
  12. 13. Benefits <ul><li>Improved consistency of information - everyone is referring to the same versions and documents </li></ul><ul><li>Reduced need to reinvent the wheel for every project </li></ul><ul><li>Improved speed of issues resolution by making existing solutions to past problems available </li></ul><ul><li>Training for new starters - provides a consistent set of information and experience for them to tap into </li></ul><ul><li>Shared workload - no single person is the sole keeper of knowledge </li></ul><ul><li>When you are aware that something similar has been done before, knowledge management makes it easy to find the information you need </li></ul>
  13. 14. What we use <ul><li>Common storage area / intranet for project documents </li></ul><ul><li>Defect list for technical bugs </li></ul><ul><li>Ongoing issues list throughout a project </li></ul><ul><li>Lessons learned written up and placed in shared location at end of project </li></ul><ul><li>Post project reviews </li></ul><ul><li>Progress reports shared with wide audience </li></ul>
  14. 15. What’s missing?
  15. 16. What’s missing? <ul><li>Capturing knowledge that will help provide more accurate estimates in future </li></ul><ul><li>Emails and documents can be hard to keep track of if they are being contributed to by many people. </li></ul><ul><li>Capturing the solution to specific technical issues that have had to be overcome </li></ul><ul><li>Capturing subjective opinions - discussions on how something should have been done or how successful a particular approach was </li></ul><ul><li>Capturing relationship information - who is helpful and who is not constructive </li></ul><ul><li>Keeping information general enough to be applied in other scenarios without being too vague. </li></ul>
  16. 17. What could be better? Techniques we use Gaps we identified
  17. 18. TRYING SOMETHING NEW
  18. 19. What’s changed? <ul><li>Move away from massive semantic databases </li></ul><ul><li>No need for organisational buy-in </li></ul><ul><li>Accessible, affordable, low-overhead software </li></ul><ul><li>Piggyback on existing technology using a KM angle on it (blogging, wikis) </li></ul><ul><li>Project work increasing – short-term set-ups </li></ul>
  19. 20. What has not changed <ul><li>We like to believe our problem is unique </li></ul><ul><li>If it wasn’t invented here, it can’t be right </li></ul><ul><li>If I don’t know you, why should I trust you? </li></ul>
  20. 21. Some suggestions <ul><li>Programming patterns </li></ul><ul><li>Storytelling </li></ul><ul><li>Blogging, discussion groups and collaboration software </li></ul><ul><li>Semi-structured interviews </li></ul><ul><li>Rich personal interaction </li></ul>
  21. 22. Programming patterns <ul><li>“ During a retrospective, the project team can identify likely patterns [...] A critical moment can be a decision, a turning point, or an action that overcame an obstacle or made a difference in some other way. ” Rising & Derby (2003) </li></ul><ul><li>General approach – allows adaptation to encourage adoption </li></ul><ul><li>Memorable name – helps to spread the pattern </li></ul><ul><li>Share info about the problems encountered on projects </li></ul>
  22. 23. Storytelling <ul><li>The act of listening puts the listener into a problem solving frame of mind. </li></ul><ul><li>Primed to look for connections and solutions to the problem presented to them. </li></ul><ul><li>Extrapolate from the specific scenario described in the story to try to gauge how it might be relevant to them. </li></ul>
  23. 24. Blogging, discussion groups and collaboration software <ul><li>Particularly useful in sharing knowledge in cross-cultural environments. </li></ul><ul><li>Improved personal interactions and builds trust </li></ul><ul><li>Draws on experiences from wider range of people </li></ul><ul><li>Allows minority views to be recorded </li></ul>
  24. 25. Semi-structured interviews <ul><li>Motivate individuals to share information by conducting interviews ... Get them to describe events, provide examples and a narrative. </li></ul><ul><li>Found that interviewees had difficulty in understanding how much they really knew. </li></ul><ul><li>The process of questioning them with a view to extracting examples was found to help individuals to share their tacit knowledge. </li></ul>
  25. 26. Rich personal interaction <ul><li>Direct personal interaction is most effective </li></ul><ul><li>Frequent interaction is required, not just close physical proximity </li></ul><ul><li>Informal interaction is more effective than formal networks </li></ul><ul><li>Benefits </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Builds trust </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Increases innovation </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Improves information redundancy </li></ul></ul>
  26. 27. How to help <ul><li>Provide </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Opportunities to discuss experiences, informal and formal </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>A way of capturing and sharing people’s stories </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Key lessons learned as general patterns to be applied to all projects </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>A place to capture dissenting opinions and capture discussion </li></ul></ul>
  27. 28. Questions? <ul><li>Programming patterns </li></ul><ul><li>Storytelling </li></ul><ul><li>Blogging, discussion groups and collaboration software </li></ul><ul><li>Semi-structured interviews </li></ul><ul><li>Rich personal interaction </li></ul><ul><li>We like to believe our problem is unique </li></ul><ul><li>If it wasn’t invented here, it can’t be right </li></ul><ul><li>If I don’t know you, why should I trust you? </li></ul>

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