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Knowledge Management


Know-All 10: A Quick KM Assessment

This set of ten questions provides a quick check of where your organization is along ten critical success dimensions. Rate your organization (or part of it) on a score 0 to 10, where 0 is doing nothing at all, and 10 is world-class. We suggest that several people from different groups do this, then come together to discuss and compare.
Question Score

1. Leadership Does your organization have a compelling knowledge vision and strategy, actively promoted by your Chief Executive, that clearly articulates how knowledge management contributes to achieving organizational objectives? 2. Culture/Structure Is knowledge sharing across departmental boundaries actively encouraged and rewarded? Do workplace settings and format of meetings encourage informal knowledge exchange?



3. Processes Does your organization have systematic processes for gathering, organizing, exploiting and protecting key knowledge assets, including those from external sources? ......... 4. Explicit Knowledge Is there a rigorously maintained knowledge catalogue, with a structured knowledge tree or taxonomy, that clearly identifies knowledge owners and is readily accessible across the organization? 5. Tacit Knowledge Do you know who your best experts are for different domains of key knowledge, and do you have in place mechanisms to capture their tacit knowledge into an explicit format? 6. Knowledge Hubs and Centres Are there librarians or information management staff that coordinate knowledge repositories and act as focal points for provision of information to support key decision making? 7. Market Leverage Are your knowledge and knowledge management capabilities packaged into products and services and promoted in your organization's external marketing? 8. Measures Does your organization measure and manage its intellectual capital (IC) in a systematic way, and publish regular IC reports to its external stakeholders?






9. People/Skills Have specific knowledge rles been identified and assigned, and are all senior managers and professionals trained in basic knowledge management techniques? ......... 10. Technological Infrastructure Can all important information be quickly found by new users on your intranet/portal (or similar network) within three mouse clicks? Copyright. David Skyrme Associates. 1999, 2007. All Rights Reserved. There is a full 50 question Know-All Assessment, which is available at our knowledge shop or you can add to your shopping basket and download now ($15): The 50 questions, along with additional commentary are described in Chapter 7 of Knowledge Networking: Building the Collaborative Enterprise, David Skyrme, Butterworth-Heinemann (1999). Other free tools in this series include The Knowledge Benefits Tree and a Knowledge Usage Template. See also Tools Overview. -------------------------------------------------------------


KM Benefits Tree
A benefits tree is a simple but effective tool for showing interdependencies between different types of benefit. Many senior executives want a clear understanding of the 'bottom line' benefits of knowledge management before they invest. Typically a knowledge initiative is an infrastructure project where the cost is visible, but the benefits are diffused throughout the organization. A benefits tree relates the immediately visible benefits, through a series of steps to those understood by senior executives.

Example Tree
The following tree has been synthesized from the outputs of three separate situations and highlights some commonly found benefits.


The arrows indicate which benefits lead to higher level benefits. The benefits on the left are those that are the most visible or quantifiable. Those to the right are the result of several factors, including non-KM factors, combining. In this particular tree, three different classes of benefit have been used:

1. Knowledge Benefits - these are those derived from more efficient

processing of information and knowledge, for example by eliminating duplication of effort or saving valuable time. For example, a survey carried out by the AMS knowledge centre showed that information management professionals at a knowledge centre could find relevant information 8 times faster than non-IM professionals.

2. Intermediate Benefits - these are how the knowledge benefits could be

translated into benefits that can be expressed in terms of efficiency or effectiveness. A common example is that best practices databases helps to eliminate less efficient operations through transferring knowledge from the best practitioners.

3. Organizational Benefits - this class of benefits are those that impact some
of the organization's key goals, such as productivity and customer service. As a result of such analysis, it is possible to track savings of time in accessing knowledge, though to better customer service by giving them more relevant, validated and timely solutions to their problems. It is quite common to have 4 or

even five classes of benefits. For example, organizational benefits can be divided into two classes, one internal benefits, the other customer or market-related benefits.
Additional Information

Deriving a benefits tree is not as simple as it might look. It takes considerable effort to identify the efforts and map their relationships. These considerations are covered more fully in the Knowledge Management Benefits Tree Toolkit (price $10), available at K-Shop which provides: A 'how to' guide for developing a benefits tree Blank benefits tree templates A checklist of common drivers and triggers for knowledge management More extensive lists for each category of benefit A discussion of the main 'value propositions' by which knowledge management is commonly justified Some real examples of benefits achieved.

---------------------------------------Knowledge Flow Template

This template has provide invaluable to us when conducting Knowledge Inventories. Many users are often put off by the barrage of questions they commonly face in a questionnaire. This template can be filled in by them in a few minutes for each of their main activities and when collated with inputs from other users gives a quick overall picture of main knowledge flows.

The Blank Template


1. Consider an important activity, task or process that you carry out as part of your job. This is the focal point for completion of one template and its name should be entered into the central box. 2. Consider the main sources of information and knowledge you need to carry out this task. Enter their names, sources and any specific attributes e.g. "updated weekly", "on the intranet") in the boxes on the left. Remember to include people as well as databases, documents etc. 3. Now list the knowledge that you generate in this activity. List the new knowledge in the bottom box, again with important attributes or ways in which you have added value to incoming knowledge. 4. Finally, list the main users and usages of your knowledge outputs in the right hand boxes. Put the most important people first. If different outputs go to different people, you may need to assign numbers to the entries in bottom box and append them to the relevant boxes on the right.

That's all there is to it. The fun stanrts when your completed templates are compared with those of your colleagues and those before and after you in the knowledge processing chain!
Additional Information and Feedback

There are, of course, many other tools that are used during the course of a knowledge inventory. Depending on the level of interest shown we may put them on this web site in future. In the meantime, we weclome any feedback and comments on this template. Let us know how you have used it modified it. --------------------------------------------------------------

Knowledge Audit
Why and When?
A Knowledge Inventory (sometimes called an information audit) is a practical way of getting to grips with "knowing what you know". Applying the principles of information resources management (IRM) it identifies owners, users, uses and key attributes of core knowledge assets. It is often carried out in conjunction with a Knowledge Management Assessment as a baseline on which to develop a knowledge management strategy. Indicators that a knowledge inventory would be worthwhile include: managers and professionals feel the symptoms of 'information overload' it is difficult to find quickly key information and knowledge needed to make key decisions useful sources of information and knowledge are frequently stumbled across by accident duplication of information gathering activities is taking place across different departments questions are raised about the value of information systems or information management (library) investments. in organizations and industries with a strong R&D function

The output of our Knowledge Inventory will deliver the following benefits: identification of core knowledge assets and flows - who creates, who uses identification of gaps in information and knowledge needed to manage the business effectively areas of information policy and ownership that need improving opportunities to reduce information handling costs opportunities to improve coordination and access to commonly needed information a clearer understanding of the contribution of knowledge to business results.

Our proven approach is based on:

Our in-depth understanding of the best practice in knowledge inventories An integrated approach that looks hard at the relevance of knowledge in business activities Data collection methods that sort out essential knowledge from the mass of detail Use of appropriate knowledge mapping tools and techniques Access to a world-wide network of IRM specialists Excellent analysis and writing skills Proven experience in conducting knowledge inventories

What We Do
Our Knowledge Inventory does not attempt to develop a comprehensive inventory of knowledge assets, but works on the basis of developing a prioritized list of assets. These are identified by analyses of core business processes and critical management decision areas. A typical cycle includes: Analysis of key documents e.g. plans, process models and descriptions Analysis of current information systems Interviews with representative cross-section of staff Information requirements questionnaires Analysis of information and knowledge flows Development of knowledge maps Creation of an action plan.

Deliverables are tailored to client's requirements but typically include the following: A Core Process / Knowledge Chart Supplier / User Matrix A knowledge map or tree An initial set of information standards A sample set of inventory records A detailed report, including charts, diagrams and tables of knowledge assets.

Further Information
To discuss your requirement in further detail please contact our principal consultant David Skyrme. Email: david@skyrme.com. Tel: +44 1635 25 35 45. Related Services: Knowledge Management Assessment Knowledge Strategy Development Knowledge Management Workshops


Website Checklist
This website check list is a high-level check list of activities to include in your project plan. A successful web development requires attention to several strands of activity, an in particular the organization of information and changes in origanization and business processes. We have used the activities on this check-list as the starting input list of activities for several project plans for website development and as part of our Internet strategic consulting. See also our Good Web Guide.

Project Activities

A. Preparation and Planning

1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8.

Briefing Appraisal of existing web site, IT systems Confirmation of corporate and marketing objectives Budget indication Roles and Responsibilities Pilot Selection Initial timetable First draft web marketing plan.

B. Content development
1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. Overall look 'n feel Standards and templates Information Architecture Navigation Paths Interactions Writing Page mark up Response forms / scripts Other special content.

C. Technical
1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. Server/ provider selection Mirror sites - if applicable Server software Domain registration Applications development Transaction and payment systems development e.g. catalogues, shopping baskets 7. Supported browsers 8. Development systems 9. Management processes 10. Technical standards.

D. Testing and Going Live

1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. Page quality check, validation Link testing Coherence consistency checking Security testing - password access etc. Transaction testing Complete testing off-line User testing Site uploading.

E. Marketing

1. Marketing model - ads, referrals etc. 2. The 7Ps - how are these addressed? 3. Link negotiation 4. Marketing 'hooks' in each relevant page 5. Response mechanisms 6. Entries in search engines 7. Off-line promotion 8. Research and feedback 9. Data Collection (e.g. web stats) and Analysis 10. Revised marketing plan.

F. Sustenance
1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. Webmaster activities Content feedback Content updating programme Commissioning new content Supporting new facilities e.g. video plug-ins Link maintenance Update release planning.

G. Management Processes
1. Overall project management - progress vs. plan 2. Use liaison 3. Legal and contractual e.g. copyrights 4. Release / change control 5. Performance measurement system 6. Budgeting 7. Ongoing roles and responsibilities 8. Documentation 9. Process Descriptions 10. Extracting Lessons 11. Periodic strategic audits and reviews.

Each element may include lower level elements. A project plan should be drawn up with milestones, resources and dates. Development of the information architecture and agreeing quantity and quality of content are crucial elements in determining resources needed. A master plan may well include list of all pages and owners with dates for completion and independent testing. Developing a web presence or webbased services is not an ad-hoc activity, but needs careful planning and good project management. ------------------------------------------------------------

How to Develop an Effective Internet Presence

These guidelines for creating and maintaining a good business website, were first developed in April 1996. Although the web has come a long way since then, the experience which they encapsulate (that of developing websites for ourselves and clients) is as valid today as it was then. In summary the guidelines are:

1. Link your Web presence to your business strategy - be clear about its
purpose and marketing role.

2. Focus on the reader - make it relevant and helpful to the user 3. Provide well organized information - develop a clear structure; map it out

4. Give signposts - make navigation easy 5. Use a clear simple design - do not overburden with graphics 6. Offer helpful links - develop reinforcing 'webs'; readers will value pointers to 7. 8. 9. 10.
other sites with complementary information Market it effectively - get search engines to point to it; add URLs to hardcopy material Generate 'hooks' - encourage user interaction Do not use it alone - use it in conjunction with other Internet tools Sustain it - developing a site is not a once off task; keep it refreshed.

Following a description of these, we give a list of common pitfalls.

The Good Web Guide

1. Link your Web presence to your business strategy

A Web presence must reinforce your business and marketing goals. It should also say something about you as a company. Therefore if you want to convey an image of professionalism and quality, that's how your Web pages should look. If you want to convey fun and creativity, then that calls for a different image. Be realistic in your goals. Web pages are reached by users in three ways 1. They have deliberately sought yours out since they want information about your

organization or its products 2. They have received a pointer to your pages while reading some other pages. 3. They have done a search that indicates that your page may have some useful information. In most of these cases it's a bit like direct mail or browsing in a library. Readers will determine in the first 2-3 seconds whether they will stop and read for a while. And remember, users may not enter your pages through the logical home page, so context setting will be important. Your goals will help determine the kind of pages you will offer. For example, if your aim is: Just to be on the Internet (as is the impression left my many) then you will delegate the work to your user group or a junior programmer. Providing reliable product information, then you may want to create a definitive online catalogue Targeting new users, then you might focus on applications and case studies Developing customer relationship, then you should provide regular updates and allow for dialogue Better customer service, then you should give them pointers to solutions and who to contact Selling 'off the page', you will need to provide ordering and payment mechanisms etc. etc.

The key point is to develop strong linkages between your Internet presence, your business and marketing objectives, the information you provide and the way it is portrayed.
2. A reader-led strategy

The main point here is to adapt whatever information you have into a format aimed at the reader and their needs. Too often we see companies take internally oriented information, that is also structured for paper-based dissemination, and simply convert it into HTML (the format needed for the Web) pages. This will not do. Often, such information is also organized along departmental lines, rather than in the logical ways a reader would think through an issue or subject. Examples of what helps include: Thinking about what actions you want a user to take Determining how your product/service can help them do their job better Organizing information by category of user or type of information rather than in relation to your products or organization structures Considering likely user need cycles to lead them efficiently to the most appropriate pages. Using their (general) terminology, not your product jargon Describing benefits and uses, not features

All good practical marketing advice, but worth repeating.

3. Provide well organized information

In order to make your site attractive to readers, it must be well organized and structured. One way of doing this is to develop an information map, linked to objectives, of key points. Typical approaches will involve: Using multiple entry points, rather than single home page. These could be on areas of topical interest. Being informative and authoritative - citing others to help you make your case Not giving too much away - holding some things back that are only released after they enter dialogue with you. (The eagle eyed will note that as consultants with a living to make that we are not giving the full details of the methods we use to organize information!) 'Chunking' information into appropriate page sizes - and providing appropriate links Providing meaningful labels on each page - not content free headings

Be clear as to whether you are trying achieve 'publicity' or 'publishing'. Readers value pages that they can treat as a resource to 'bookmark', rather than only "sales literature". Even with publicity, give reader enough of your product that they can 'sample'. One benefit of a Web like structure is that you can organize your information in several categories or hierarchies. take advantage of this variety, to allow different types of reader to have different 'views' of the structure.
4. Give signposts - Make navigation easy

At all times the reader should be able to see the page they are reading in it's context. They will also need to know how to reach real ted pages. Some ways of making it easier for the reader are: Give a meaningful heading or sub-heading to show its category Remember to give it a title - this will often head print-outs Provide short introductory material On large pages (as this one) give a summary of what is to follow Give a navigation section at the bottom of the page.

The navigation are can be divided into that part which is common throughout a set of pages e.g pointers to an index, and that which is context sensitive, and therefore gives pointed to related topics. And remind readers whose pages they are reading many will get lost in hyperspace.
5. Use a clear simple design

A few years ago, most of the information on the Web was informative but boring (it was mostly written by academics). Good structural layout and graphics adds interest. But, what we have observed over the past year is a swing of the pendulum too far the other way. We can point out some high profile pages from major companies, where the old adage should be turned around to "one word is worth a thousand images"!

By all means use graphics - especially icons, and small 'image maps'. Save the full screen imagery for the painting you want to sell or the movie for the week-end. A good business site will always warn people about the size of large image pages, and often offer small thumbnails before the complete picture. For some tips on reducing image size visit the pages of the Bandwidth Conservation Society. And if you really want to be boring, put a photo of your president on the home page! Sorry, we keep harping on about this, but this is one of the main causes of deterioration of the Web in recent times, Just because it is now easier to add sound and damage, does not mean you have to use it. Graphic designers will tell you that on paper, white space can be more powerful than text. So be sparing with your images. Also, make effective use of the medium. Writing Web pages is quite different from writing for paper publication or for printed advertising. Creating "Web friendly" formats is an art in itself. . Above all, aim to create a 'Look and feel' consistent with your corporate image and Web site objectives.
6. Offer helpful links

Readers always appreciate a site that offers helpful links to related material -even, or rather especially, if it is done by some other (external) authoritative expert. They are wary of sites that suck them in and do not give any links out. OK, we're not the best example - it does take time and effort to research good links and put them in, and then regularly check them. It is also useful to try and develop reinforcing 'webs', especially with business partners. You point to their pages, and they point to you. Again this takes extra effort, in simple communications if not negotiation, but it is something that your readers will value. The Web is an information resource and pointers to other sites with complementary information can only reinforce the value of the Web for all, and help get away from the glitzy image portrayed by some blatant marketing sites.
7. Market it Effectively

Use all available mechanisms to draw people to your site. There are many search engines that will find your site and index it. Others, though, will need help to find you. It is also important how you start key pages, since some engines will only summarise the first few sentences. Many online directories will also publicize your site, but our own research says these are very variable. Many seem to make more efforts to sell space to providers, rather than help users find information! So tread with care. Other things to do include: Creating a signature on your email accounts that point to appropriate pages Add your URL to your headed notepaper Publicize your site (or relevant sections of it) in your other literature When you participate in discussion groups etc. make people aware of it etc. etc.

You will find plenty of useful ideas in WEB MARKETING TODAY, a thought provoking online newsletter edited by Dr. Ralph F. Wilson. Remember - a site not marketed may well be a site not visited!
8. Generate 'hooks'

Every page is potentially an opportunity to encourage some dialogue with the reader. As you plan each page, decide what action you would like the reader to take and generate a 'hook'. For example on this page we invite you to email David Skyrme Associates to find out more about our Internet services. Exploit multiple response mechanisms. Different readers have different preferences (or different browser) software. Some may be reading a hard-copy of your page. Some options to consider are: Give a clear point of contact - appropriate to the page (not just a Web master) Provide telephone and fax numbers Generate a response form - but don't make it too laborious or users will opt out

9. Use other Internet tools to complement the Web

Remember that the World Wide Web is only one of many Internet tools. It is primarily a 1-to-many mechanism - ideal for disseminating information to a large dispersed audience in a passive way. Hence the growth of interest in intranets to hold and share company information. Other mechanisms may be more appropriate for different tasks. For example: Email may be more appropriate for product feedback (vs. complex form filling). See the guide on Effective Email. An email distribution list may he best for letting customers share information with each other (you can always moderate it, so you can control what is passed through) File transfer protocol, might be the best way to disseminate a specific document. Your own newsgroup may provide a useful forum for a user group.

10. Sustain the site

While many companies put significant effort into developing a site, often using external contractors for the effort, too often the site is then left to fester. At a very minimum some simple maintenance should be carried out regularly, such as: Checking the continued validity of hypertext links Updating obviously out-of-date pages Making necessary changes in contact names, phono new numbers etc.

More rigorous maintenance would include:

Keeping all pages currently with latest product information etc. Updating links between pages to reflect new additions and changing structures Putting "last updated..." dates to convey a sense of freshness

But for maximum effect, we would recommend sustenance, the proactive updating of the pages to reflect changes in the business and the context. Thus: Updating pages to reflect the overall site and latest state of the company and industry. Addition of news pages, such as latest press releases Creation of new pages to reflect business priorities Address hot issues in the industry Monitor new sites in your field for inclusion as links Considering alternative structures and 'views' to reflect the current state of the market

Here are some common pitfalls, and how to avoid them. Bad URL links - regularly check all external links on your site Delegating the site project to just one department (such as IT or marketing) virtually all projects should have a multi-disciplinary team - the Web cuts across department boundaries Glitzy images taking a long time to download - redirect the enthusiasm of your graphics designers; give users thumbnails and text alternatives. Not having any contact details - provide a phone number or an email address. Too often we see pages, where you are dying to communicate with the provider but have no means to do so. Obvious errors and out-of-date pages - have content quality control and sustain the site (Virgin Atlantic was once prosecuted for having wrong pricing information on their site). Awful looking pages - test test and test again, ideally on more than one browser - Note, however, that a decision will have to be on technical standards e.g. what HTML extensions to support. Content free headings and links e.g. "Last month's issue", "next chapter" always give users content based headings.

The list grows daily. We're sure you have some not listed or, or even comments about these pages that annoy you. Please email your suggestions to david@skyrme.com Copyright. David J. Skyrme. 1996. Minor revisions, 1999. This material may be copied or distributed subject to the terms of our copyright conditions (no commercial gain; complete page copying etc.) .

Further Information

These are guidelines that have helped us in the design of websites for ourselves and clients. Related guides and tools on this site include Effective Email and Web Site Project Check List. There is also a series of feature articles on the 10Ps of Internet Marketing, starting with Portals. See also Internet Resources and Contents/Internet. External sources you might find helpful include: Publishing on the Web - Webcom's comprehensive guide for doing it from first principles. Contains lots of helpful information - using the Web, writing HTML, publishing and publicising. Alertbox - Jakob Nielsen's regular briefings on web usability. User Guidelines and Netiquette by Arlene Rinaldi.