Sarah Heal presented today for NZKM in Christchurch on Records Management as a part of KM Strategy. Over the last year she has detected some unexpected and at times inconvenient signals, a growing body of anecdotal evidence that something is not quite right in information management. There have been lots of failed IM/KM initiatives, and EDRMS is the “Emperor with no clothes”. There just aren’t any really good exemplars in NZ of very successful deployments. With project budgets often ranging from $0.5 million to $1 million, this is an expensive problem.
People she’s met say that the EDRMS are “Too hard to use”, “it takes too long to file things”, “they can’t find things” – if the information design is wrong implementations start to creak after the first year or two, and the ab0ve starts happening. The implementation process has to be about getting into a stable orbit, rather than just getting the launch done.
Problems that manifest are – “Perfunctory use, overfull email inboxes, people hate it and you” OR “Wide spread use, out of control, people can’t find things”.
The way to address this she says, is to make sure that systems and processes implemented are:
- Useable – quick to file stuff
- Useful – how can I find stuff
- Used – chicken and egg of use, I file we all find, others file I find (real world compliance)
On the KM front she says that KM is all about making experts in your business. It’s about managing ‘know-how’ rather than managing knowledge. Using this frame of reference it’s important to get a smooth transition between informal know-how (wikis, blogs, communities of interest), definitive self-help ‘nuggets’ (faqs, articles, lessons learned, stories, training material, discussion topics), file and find repositories (records, documents, email management), instruments and mechanisms (business processes, templates, job records, forms etc), definitive (SOI, vision, values etc). Often very records management/compliance focused projects will miss the ‘informal know-how’ and ‘definitive self-help nuggets’ aspects, but these are of most value in terms of encouraging use of the more formal aspects.
Greg, one of the participants, thought that the project mindset was often behind these challenges, rather than an iterative process that is more associated with web sites (it’s never finished, it’s always evolving). EDRMS projects can take so long they involve many different people over time, across organisational restructures, and fall over because of lack of continuity.
In the group there seemed to be an emerging understanding of the role of the different tools in different stages in the lifecycle of information from informal to formal.
While I expect some of my underpinning beliefs and theoretical frameworks on knowledge and KM differ from Sarah’s I thought she was a fantastic presenter and had a real depth of experience in the boundary between RM and KM.
The best part of the session for me though, was that we had two different groups from the same organisation in the room. They hadn’t met each other before, and were working on very similar initiatives. Seeing them talking to each other at the end of the session reinforced to me why I put time and energy into organising NZKM events.