Communication can be considered key to any effective operation. However, this should not be viewed in isolation but as a systematic approach to growth and sustainability. Often, on completion of an objective, the team will have a short review; consider the feedback and move on to the next task. So what of all the information that has been gathered, all the lessons learned and knowledge gained? What is done with this and how can it be beneficial to tasks or projects in the future?
A great deal of effort may have been conducted with research to gain information to best support a project and many hours apportioned to this on a planning timeline. Having gone to this effort, the information should not be discarded and anonymously filed but saved and stored to be used on continuous ventures. One method of achieving this is through the employment of a Knowledge Access System (KAS).
To develop such a system, ensuring that it is user friendly will be as important as the information it will contain. Therefore building the system is an expert task and maintaining this through data management is vital. Once the IT engineering has been completed, the design and development of the data matrix must be well thought out to ensure it is accessible and easy to navigate. With the latter having been established, what information could be contained on the KAS and what are the benefits this will bring?
Firstly, just consider how much information you know about the organization in which you work? How it is established and what is going on? The ability to source current facts and ensure you are up to date with the latest developments can only enhance personal corporate knowledge to assist with work planning and development.
Secondly, having a comprehensive HR function will alleviate the need for paperwork and provide an electronic data audit and demonstrate a contribution to environmental sustainment. Establishing workforce areas, identifying key personnel through individual synopsis and a skills matrix will assist when searching for information related to areas outside the normal remit.
This also benefits developing a spirit of community growth within the organization and encourages an attitude towards permissible and responsible knowledge sharing. Access to policies, procedures and reports will maintain standards and provide correct templates for written communications; document convention is always seen as a ‘trip wire’.
A KAS can also be utilised for dissemination of company notices and articles of organizational interest.
Although consideration must be given to confidentiality, client portfolios and contacts will assist with timely external communications. This could include specific data on client approach, idiosyncrasies and any cultural norms, especially when accessing overseas organizations.
Being able to construct a portfolio of information before client engagement is often considered significant to building relations and developing possible business.
Modern business requires a fast return on communications, especially when vying for new business opportunities. Therefore ‘finger-tip’ information will allow for both timely and precise research to best collate relevant and current information, which will be a foundation of project planning.
The accessibility to the latest legislative and health and safety policies, through a database library can protect the organization; how many times have companies been held culpable for breaking rules and regulations through basic ignorance of change to policies and lack of document version control?
The KAS would also contain After Action Reviews (AAR) that has captured the positive points and areas for concern from past projects, thus providing many lessons learned to build on future success.
This short article is only a ‘snap shot’ of what can be contained within a KAS. Any successful system is reliable on accuracy and currency of information, with functions and control measures in place so data is guarded to protect the organizations reputation.
It must be updated regularly for consistent use and ensure all copyrights are observed, including awareness of commercial in confidence parameters.
To ensure this can be realistically achieved, investment should be made in the employment of a KAS Manager to sustain the system. The key areas of responsibility would include some of the following:
• Research of information
• Constant update of information
• System security
• System maintenance
• Staff induction
The key to the success of a KAS is representation of the organizations modus operandi; updated AARs, is accurate and remains within legislative boundaries. From a human factors perspective, ensuring a KAS is user friendly, accessible and easy to navigate through a comprehensive search engine, will only encourage confidence and usage.