Knowledge Management

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Management top task: improve productivity on information

unstructured chaos of paper, documents, reports, e-mails, photo’s, etc.
reflection-article by Hans Van Heghe, 02/2013

For western organizations especially, the production of goods or the delivery of services is no longer of paramount importance. That place has been taken by the development, management and deployment of new knowledge.
However, the actual approach people handle this big asset does not lead to huge satisfaction. Main reason is the fact that most organizations approach information and knowledge in a medieval thinking and approach. This leads to huge loss of productivity, low quality and service levels.
To improve productivity on information is a major opportunity and should be an obligatory management top-task.

Your information and expertise count
Even though the financial crisis and global warming make it less visible, our economy really is changing from an operational economy to a knowledge-driven economy. Your information and expertise count and they are your biggest asset!
Thirty years ago, a customer was happy with a product as such. After that, a product with accompanying services became the credo. Today, customers not only want a product with accompanying services, but they also want to be supplied with the necessary knowledge and expertise for using the product in the most optimal way.
Organisations across all industries are becoming increasingly driven by their expertise and, more specifically, by the expertise of their knowledge workers.
This means that information, communication and knowledge are becoming significantly more important to support customers, to stay one step ahead of the competition, to innovate or to simply be efficient. The most important challenge for any organisation is to develop knowledge and keep it in the organisation for optimal re-use.

Today’s demanding knowledge economy
As a knowledge worker — sometimes even as an expert — I’m supposed to be all-knowing and all-seeing.
Ordinary people who have been living in caves for the past few years don’t have a clue, but knowledge workers and experts like us know that indeed ‘something’ is going on. Concepts such as information overload, information explosion, information overkill, information inundation, information monster, information obesity, information dirt, info glut, info bog, info garbage, info glitz, info glimmer, info pollution, data smog, data deluge, data glut, information fatigue syndrome, information anxiety, and maybe even information underload — the feeling that everything you know is worthless — are quiet evidence of it.

Know issues
You are a super organization if you are not facing at least 2 of following often encountered issues:

  • Lacking accessibility to the right information, causes in-efficiency of your organization
  • Re-inventing the wheel over and over again
  • Aging Baby Boomers, lost knowledge when they retire
  • Security is not consistent and is preventing Need-To-Know
  • Don’t know what you (should) know
  • Non-managed important documents/information/communication
  • Duplicated information, using wrong version, polluting your content
  • Missing foundation for Decisions and Risk alerts
  • Slow/low service levels and reduced Reputation
  • Non-compliance

A lot of desired improvements. But how big is the issues and what can solved and improved?

International studies claim
International studies (Garntner, Forrester Research, IDC, Delphi Consulting, ) of the last 4 years give you a clue on the dimensions of those inefficiencies, not mentioning indirect impacts.

The average document is copied, either physically or electronically, 9 to 11 times at a cost of about €18

  • Documents cost about €20 to file
  • Retrieving a misfiled document costs about €120
  • 80% to 95% of enterprise information is located within paper and electronic documents
  • 25% of enterprise documents are misplaced and will never be located again
  • 30% of Gartner Group clients store more than 50% of their documents on local hard drives or USB sticks
  •  Document mismanagement claims:

o 40% to 60% of office workers’ time
o 20% to 45% of labour costs
o 2% to 15% of corporate revenue

  • 1.5 hour per day time spent searching per person, for knowledge workers
  • 42% of searches resulting in NO answer (hence, need human help)
  •  1.5 hour per day time spent on re-inventing the wheel (re-answer, re-write, re-solve, re-innovate, re-…)
  • 1 year publications in chemical sector requires 266 years of reading
  • in most organizations, 20-50% of employees are retiring within 5 years

Realistic productivity results
Based on research of the German research agency “Arbeidsgemeinschaft für wirtschaftliche Verwaltung (AWV)”, proper information and document management leads to following gains:

  • Time savings with regard to creating and modifying documents 50%-90%
  •  Increase in productivity 20%-30%
  • Savings on document handling 20%-40%
  • Improvements in cycle time 20%-40%
  • Savings on disk space 30%-50%
  • Improvements in customer satisfaction 30%-50%

Issues of the knowledge economy
Without us noticing – hidden by the current financial issues – the economy is becoming knowledge-driven rather than transaction-driven, as was traditionally the way.
And let’s face it: next to inefficiencies, this has a tremendous impact on our organisations:

You will have less experienced people available, in the short future

  •  capture and make your knowledge re-usable, in time and space

Your staff demand New Ways of Working

  • single access to all information and communication becomes important
  • take distributed and on-line architectures into account
  • your staff want to use their own devices

Your knowledge makes you stand out in the market

  • show and expose your knowledge
  •  re-think your business, define new services and products
  • start from the under-valorised knowledge and experience

You face continuous high risks with regard to

  • not being informed
  •  missing information or wrong information leading to wrong decisions
  •  inconsistent security
  •  missing compliance
  • knowledge leaks
  • missed opportunities

How to improve productivity on information?
Commercial answer: contact a specialist like ICMS Group or its partners
Knowledge answer: read my other articles, white papers and books, and learn.

Short answer
Sorry, there is no short answer and solution. Because each organization is unique, unique in culture, people, values, mission, management style, objectives, etc.
Traditional systems (DMS, search, portal, file servers, …) fail and are responsible for today’s inefficiencies. So, another approach is needed. An approach where automated intelligence, tailored to your organization, is combined with zero-effort for the end-user and with high flexibility.
Implementing information and knowledge management is also a growing process where your organizational capabilities and maturity define the speed of growth. In general, the process start with chaos, towards searchable archives, basic document management, consolidated intelligent find, workflow and business process automation, finding experts and knowledge capturing, and finally becoming a knowledge centric organization.

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