Components of a Knowledge Management System A Knowledge Management System (KMS) refers to either a technology-based or non-technical interconnected group of functions that have behaviour that enables or facilitates either (or a combination of) the discovery, capture, integration, sharing or delivery of the knowledge required by an organisation to meet its objectives. It can comprise a part of a Knowledge Management initiative or strategy to improve the utility of an organisation’s intellectual capital. A knowledge management system is inherently a soft open system. This means that boundaries are permeable and difficult to position.
What may be useful to one person in one part of an organisation may be useless to someone else in another department. Any knowledge management initiative must therefore establish clear achievable goals that deliver benefits to the organisation, or a sub-set of the organisation, and take into account user and stakeholder requirements. The key principle is that it must be useful and solve a problem. A successful knowledge management system is founded on a clear understanding of: ? ? ? ? ? what the organisation considers to be organisational knowledge; what the organisation’s knowledge goals are; here knowledge resides in an organisation, and its form; what knowledge components must be managed; and finally the absolutely central role of people in any system. The essential components of a Knowledge Management System can be seen in the model at Figure 1. Figure 1. Components of a Knowledge Management System The following table describes the components of a KMS. Component Description 1. Strategy A KMS should be part of a strategy that identifies the key needs and issues within the organisation, and provide a framework for addressing these. 1. 1. Problem
A problem or opportunity facing the organisation needs to exist. W hat particular worldview justifies the existence of a KM system? (What point of view makes this system meaningful? ) 1. 2. Purpose / objective A KMS should have an explicit Knowledge Management objective of some type such as collaboration, sharing good practice or the like. 1. 3. Policy Any KMS should be linked to an organisational policy 1. 4. Governance Any KMS must be managed properly and a governance framework that articulates roles and responsibilities is a necessary part of a KMS. 1. 5. Culture
The culture, values and beliefs of the people within an organisation affects the way in which they may be receptive to a KMS. 1. 6. Risk W hat are the risks within an organisation to the success of a KMS? 2. Actors People are central to any KMS and there are different participants with differing backgrounds and experiences. There are a number of roles to carry out a range of activities involved in an effective KMS. 2. 1. Owner W ho owns the business process and has the authority to abolish this system or change its measures of performance? 2. 2. Source W ho/what currently holds the knowledge and where does it reside? . 3. Clients W ho are the beneficiaries of this particular system? (Who would benefit or suffer from its operations? ) 2. 4. Managers W ho is responsible for implementing this system? (Who would carry out the activities which make this system work? ) 2. 5. Enablers W ho else needs to be involved to make the knowledge system work such as IT administrators or HR support staff 2. 6. Boundary Spanners Those people who connect workgroups in the organisaiton 3. Infrastructure Most KMSs will require some form of infrastructure to enable the system to function. 3. 1. Facilities
W hat facilities are required to support the KMS function? 3. 2. Equipment W hat equipment is required to enable the KMS to function effectively? 3. 3. Repositories W here will the KMS store any information or knowledge? 3. 4. Instruments There may be a series of instruments, tools or templates required to support the capture, creation and sharing of the corporate knowledge . This might also include directories, taxonomies or ontologies. 3. 5. Software Any software solutions that enable or comprise the KMS 3. 6. Networks The social or electronic networks that enable a KMS . 7. Hardware Is there are requirement for any additional hardware 4. Functionality KMSs are developed to support and enhance knowledge-intensive processes, tasks or projects of e. g. , creation, construction, identification, capturing, acquisition, selection, valuation, organization, linking, structuring, formalization, visualization, transfer, distribution, retention, maintenance, refinement, revision, evolution, accessing, retrieval and last but not least the application of knowledge, also called the knowledge life cycle. 4. 1. Logic
A KMS may be based on some underpinning logic or conept 4. 2. Business rules Any system requires business rules to control the operation of the system. 4. 3. Transformation W hat transformation does this system bring about? (What are the inputs and what transformation do they go through to become the outputs? ). There should be an transformation mode identified: Socialisation – Transfer / sharing Externalisation – Knowledge capture Combination – Business Intelligence Internalisation – Knowledge Delivery 4. 4. Integration Does the KMS need to integrate with any other system? 4. 5. Tailoring
A KMS should sense the response of the client to the user of the KMS and preferably be able to adjust the mode, complexity, order and extent of the interaction being experienced by the client. 4. 6. Administration W hat administration is required in order to support the KMS? 4. 7. Reporting W hat reporting is required to support the management of the KMS? 4. 8. Procedures W hat processes need to be documented into procedures to be able to apply appropriate controls and guidance to support the KMS? 4. 9. Content Management W hat content management functionality is required to support the management of the KMS? 5.
Delivery 5. 1. Mode Any KMS requires the delivery or facilitation of knowledge or a knowledge management service. Synchronous Technique – Same Time, Same Place Asynchronous Technique (AT) – Different Time, Same Place Distributed Synchronous Collaboration (DSC) – Same Time, Different Place Distributed Asynchronous Collaboration (DAC) – Different Time, Different Place 5. 2. Facilitation A KMS must have an interface where people interact with the system. This could be a facilitator or utilise technology via Visual, Audio or Experiential/tactile modes to facilitate the interaction of the user/client with the system. . 3. Style The effectiveness of a KMS can be enhanced through the adoption of a style that is consistent with the culture of an organisation. Style sends important messages to a client about the KMS. 5. 4. Techniques Delivery of a KMS may require the application of skills and techniques in order to be successful. 5. 5. Access Control A KMS should identify and target clients to enable appropriate personnel and lock out inappropriate personnel. 5. 6. Accessibility A KMS needs to be accessible to people with physical restrictions or a disability 5. 7. Personalisation
A KMS should be able to be personalised to suit the client 6. Content Some KMS will hold content to enable the system to function. 6. 1. Lifep Content may be static, dynamic or compiled on the fly (mash-up) 6. 2. Authoring The content within a KMS needs to be effectively authored/prepared in a form that is usable to the client 6. 3. Publishing A publishing process and model needs to be in place to authorise and control release of content 6. 4. Validation and referencing of Source Content needs to be obtained from authentic sources and the sources need to be identified and verifiable. 6. 5.
Stewardship of the content Ownership/stewardship of the content is important as a management process to ensure the effective delivery and utilisation of the KMS 6. 6. Review and update Any content held by a KMS should be subject to a review and update protocol. 6. 7. Security Any classified content held by a KMS must be adequately protected. 6. 8. Taxonomy Content held by a KMS may need to be sorted into an appropriate structure to enable easy discovery and use. 6. 9. Catalogue Any content held by a KMS may require cataloguing in order to better manage the information. 6. 10. Version Control
Any content held by a KMS should be subject to version control. 6. 11. Disposal Any content held by a KMS that is no longer relevant or valued should be disposed of. 7. Continuous improvement A KMS should be regularly reviewed to ensure that it is meeting the objectives identified in the strategy and requirements. 7. 1. Feedback Feedback on the utility of a KMS is important to identify issues that need to be addressed. 7. 2. Performance management A Performance Management sub-system should include: Indicators, Levels/Measures, a collection process, analysis and reporting. 7. 3. Review and Audit
Third party review or audit of the effectiveness of a KMS may be appropriate. 7. 4. Benefits Realisation Management of the KMS is required in order to ensure that the benefits are being realised and the organisation is achieving the objectives it set out to meet in the development and implementation of the KMS. References and Further Reading Durant-Law, G. , The Essential Components of a Knowledge Management System | Knowledge Matters. Available at: http://www. durantlaw. info/essential-components-of–knowledgemanagement-system Langton, N & Robbins, S. (2006). Organizational Behaviour (Fourth Canadian Edition).
Toronto, Ontario: Pearson Prentice Hall. Maier, R (2007): Knowledge Management Systems: Information And Communication Technologies for Knowledge Management. 3rd edition, Berlin: Springer. Shelley, A, The Organizational Zoo – Resources. Available at: http://www. organizationalzoo. com/resources Snowden, D, Cognitive Edge. Available at: http://www. cognitiveedge. com/blogs/dave/2009/09/defining_km. php Standards Australia, AS 5037-2005 Knowledge management – a guide Tiwana, A. , 1999. Knowledge Management Toolkit, The: Practical Techniques for Building a Knowledge Management System, Pearson Education.