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Upstream knowledge management
Case study: CFO seeks lower costs, higher ROI on knowledge creation and reuse
This article draws on content from our Knowledge Base Publishing course series
Most of the focus in knowledge management is on "downstream" projects to organize thousands of existing documents that, through various departmental tributaries, are flooding corporate intranets. But what about "upstream" knowledge management -- organizing and adding value when a source is identified or a document is written?
About a year ago, our CFO shamed the editorial staff into developing a knowledge base for our team of researchers and writers. Why weren't we using our skills at finding and organizing information to reduce our costs, develop new products, and provide more value for our clients, he wanted to know. But, we argued, how could we afford to take time away from our regular tasks to do it? "Don't worry," he replied. "you can afford it; besides, you can't afford NOT to."
Our information needs
Investigating our current capabilities
Researching external options
How the project evolved
Step 1. Build the "card catalog" file using a relational database.
Step 2: Import bookmarks, create records for our own publications, add records for new sources as they appear. This was an iterative process, involving an initial data "clean-up" and successive updates to add and refine data in each record.
Step 3. Develop our subject headings, classify documents as we used or cited them.
Step 4. Train our researchers to use the Library as well as add and update records. Researchers have access to the master library file for searching. Each researcher also has a private "clone" file (a copy of the master file with no records), used for adding and updating records. The library editor-in-chief periodically reviews the clone files, adding and updating the master file as necessary.
Step 5. Add features, for example:
Step 6: Train writers in composition, train editors in knowledge base publishing.
Step 7: Package the library for distribution as a research deliverable and adjunct to our print/Web publications. This involves "binding" the database with the necessary software so that users can use it as a standalone application -- without having the database program running on their computers.
Step 8: Publish the library on the Web. Passwords control who can browse, search, and update the library.
Make all source materials accessible through permanent links to commercial article archives. If clients already have an account with the archive provider, they can enter it when they click on a link. If not, they can buy a copy of the article with a credit card.
Automate the creation of library records using a method as simple as adding a bookmark in a Web browser. When the researcher clicks on a button, the system should create a new record containing information automatically extracted from the document or Web page -- title, author, URL, publication date, publisher.
Develop guidelines for deciding what kinds of documents to include in the library. For example, we now have multiple ways to handle E-mail messages. Many messages, of course, are simply read and then discarded. But those we want to save are either stored in a "message file" or treated as a library document (saved as a separate text file with a corresponding "card catalog" record).
And our CFO is much happier. In a future article, we'll detail how he uses the new system.Created on l Updated on January 7, 2012