Knowledge and Collaboration for Project Managers

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					Knowledge and Collaboration
            for Project Managers
Knowledge and Collaboration for Project Managers         

                                         Knowledge and Collaboration

                   The sharing of human experience expressed in a medium of
                   communication and organized in a way to share the value of that
                   experience with others.

                   The capability of a group of people to contribute dynamically and
                   interactively on a professional or creative endeavor.

                   Who can assign a value to knowledge that is sitting static in a repository?
  Why Focus on
                   However, the minute a worker is seeking knowledge, as soon as two
  Collaboration?   workers are sharing knowledge, whenever several workers are debating
                   and presenting; knowledge quickly attains value. Therefore, we see that
                   the crucial element to defining value in knowledge is when it is in action,
                   used by people. We see the value magnified when it can be utilized by a
                   group in dynamic ways. This is what we would call collaboration.

                   The most important work takes place at the level of the project group. By a
  Why Focus on
                   project group, we mean an interactive group from 3 to 6 at the small end to
  the Project
  Group?           20 to 30 at the high end. Notice we are not using the term “team”. This is
                   because “team” normally implies a role, responsibility and placement in a
                   larger organizational structure. The project groups we are talking about
                   may be defined within a department, division, and corporation or may span
                   multiple corporations.

Knowledge and Collaboration for Project Managers             

              The Landscape of Knowledge and Collaboration
      There are actually numerous landscapes within which knowledge and collaboration
      appears. We can talk about them in several ways, starting with historical “problems”
      and their “solutions”:

      ♦   Too much information.
          ♦   People can’t get the information they need.
              ♦   People can’t find an “expert”
                  ♦    Explosion of new media. Tools for creating, organizing and publishing
                       content most constantly adapt to these new media types.

      Numerous solutions have appeared for the knowledge “problems” workers have
      encountered. Please realize that neither the “problems” nor the solutions always fall
      into precise categories. These categories have emerged out of dialog between
      vendors, customers and industry analysts. They are useful for discussing similarities
      and differences among these various solutions and for determining the suitability of a
      product in a specific setting.
      We’re focusing more on “knowledge collaboration”, which we’ll define for the purposes
      of this paper.

       1975           1980        1985            1990         1995         2000            2006

                                             Document management

                              Project management and life-cycle tools

                                                            Collaboration tools

                                                                Workflow management

                                                                       Content management


                                                                          Knowledge Mgmt

Knowledge and Collaboration for Project Managers                      

      Solutions – Examined more Closely:

                              Document Management

                              Large organizations needed to keep track of large numbers of documents.

              Founding Idea
                              Document management should not be confused with creating a shared
                              drive to hold documents. The revisions and versions of documents have
                              high-stake consequences, organizations needed to be able to distinguish
                              between revisions, and to be able manage updates. Access should be
                              controlled by user permissions, yet be facilitated via directories, keywords,
                              and perhaps summary abstracts.

                              Does a very good job within its defined scope (see above).

                              It becomes more of a library or archival function and is thus removed from

                              the key location of knowledge creation and sharing.

                              Project Management and Life-Cycle Tools

                              Large organizations need to keep track of complex interdependencies
                              among a large number of tasks, with staff resources and resulting
              Founding Idea

                              deadlines. Project management tools could also identify “critical path”
                              tasks and could present charts showing the project plan. These tools also
                              identified deviations from plan. With the advent of powerful desktop
                              systems, these tools became affordable and prevalent.              Life-cycle
                              management tools acknowledge the adherence of many organizations to
                              procedures for managing a project through different life-cycle phases.

                              These are methods that derive their value by guiding workers through a

                              highly defined sequence and procedure to produce predictable and reliable

Knowledge and Collaboration for Project Managers                      

                              These tools offer little support for the flow of knowledge in and around the

                              Collaboration Tools

                              Organizations wanted to improve the productivity where multiple
              Founding Idea

                              contributors are creating, organizing, and publishing content in an
                              individual, or group of documents or other information objects. The toolset
                              may include the capability for online discussion with “threads” or response

                              These tools do a great job of managing the contributions of multiple

                              authors, editors, etc. They can support complex collaboration projects and
                              protect against one author “stepping” on the work of another – at a cost.

                              Because the focus is primarily on the documents or objects, there is often a

                              weak organization of the knowledge flow. The more ambitious these tools
                              are, the more challenging they are to learn and manage.

                              Workflow Management

                              In many industries such as insurance and health care administration, work
              Founding Idea

                              proceeds via a sequence of highly defined steps requiring review and
                              approval from many different “agents”.         Thus, productivity is either
                              enhanced or retarded in the timeliness of the pass-off from one worker to
                              another. Work flow systems allow organizations to define the “rules” of the
                              flow of work via the various “steps”. Managers can monitor the flow,
                              identifying bottlenecks, and then resolve them.

Knowledge and Collaboration for Project Managers                      

                              Invaluable in industries where a large number of small delays or

                              misunderstandings between work stages can produce a serious
                              degradation of customer service.

                              These systems are focused on work progress and organizational
              Weakness        productivity, evaluated via established metrics. Hence, they are rather
                              unconcerned with the contents of work products, let alone the quality of

                              Content Management

                              The key idea is to separate content from the delivery structure and delivery
                              media. This can support tool functions for a more convenient update by
              Founding Idea

                              non-expert users, better control of access permissions, and more ambitious
                              scaling of content size. Content management includes numerous sub-
                              categories. Some content management is focused exclusively on Web
                              content. Other products are “enterprise” in scope. Some help customers
                              distribute content to a number of multiple subscribers (syndication). Others
                              help customers consolidate content coming from multiple sources

                              Content management systems are crucial for large organizations to keep

                              large Web sites “fresh”, while using staff with only modest technical skills.
                              These systems can scale up to support huge structures, with
                              commensurate costs. They provide great value by managing publishing in
                              large, complex Web sites and other publishing structures.

                              The very strength of making it convenient to manage the publication of

                              “perishable” content is their weakness. These packages are not charged
                              with managing knowledge.

Knowledge and Collaboration for Project Managers                        


                              The founding theory has been that workers will respond well to and become
                              more productive with a single point of entry into an organization’s business

              Founding Idea
                              functions. Prior to the ubiquitous presence of the Web, this idea was
                              expressed as the menu trees within huge ERP systems, using client-server
                              technology. With the Web, however, the idea is to present a Web page and
                              its many “children” as an entry into all or most business functions of the

                              It’s all there, accessible via a single starting point. Users should be able to

                              navigate their way to important resources and functional pathways.

                              The industry reports that organizations are discovering that most workers

                              do not need to be presented with the entire breadth of the organization as
                              an access point to their day-to-day work.        In fact, this monolithic
                              presentation becomes intimidating and counter-productive.

                              Knowledge Management

                              The availability of inexpensive desktop tools opened up the way for ordinary
                              workers to create and publish vast amounts of information. As consumers
                              of information, we were already aware of “information overload”.
                              Management appropriately found cause for alarm that corporate information
                              assets were no longer under clear-cut central control. The emergence of
                              the Internet as a forum for inexpensive and blindingly fast information
                              exchange has tended to “democratize” the publishing of information. With
              Founding Idea

                              so much information available, it is not always clear how authoritative or
                              legitimate the information is. Due to the availability of inexpensive and
                              powerful tools, information and knowledge have expanded in quantity, and
                              also in diversity and specialization.
                              In response to these challenges, industry leaders reasoned that a
                              productive solution would be to “manage” the great amount of knowledge
                              created within the boundaries of their organization, or to be able to access
                              knowledge in affiliated domains, such as in the Internet.
                              Because this initiative has been broad and, perhaps, poorly defined, the
                              “solution” offerings are diverse and attack problems that are sometimes
                              divergent and sometimes highly related.

Knowledge and Collaboration for Project Managers                 

                          It is impossible to characterize strengths within the entire spectrum of

                          products because they cover so much breadth. Some vendors are
                          advancing research and development into discovering the meaning within
                          existing loosely structured data sources. Others are attempting to locate
                          “knowledge” or expertise by linking humans via profiles.

                          Surprisingly, some respected analysts and commentators have concluded
                          that “knowledge management” is a failed concept. While they do not

                          dismiss the accomplishments of vendors in some specific feature areas,
                          they suggest that “knowledge sharing” is a better way of thinking about the
                          problem and hence will better influence resulting solutions.
                          Further, there is emerging opinion that the key location for knowledge
                          creation and sharing is in the small group.

Knowledge and Collaboration for Project Managers                

How the Landscape of Knowledge Collaboration May
   What will certainly change?
      We can be sure that the landscape of knowledge collaboration will change. We can
      predict that workers will want to be able to work with new and exciting media for the
      expression of knowledge. Large vendors will compete and will attempt to influence
      corporations in directions supporting their commercial interests. We should expect that
      information will be generated in an exponentially accelerated pace. But, does this foster
      the creation of knowledge or present forces of confusion and dissolution? Trends
      suggest that both effects will be in play.
      How will your organization be able to take advantage of the emerging knowledge
      creation, yet be shielded from the onslaught of information?

   What will probably not change?
      ♦   Knowledge derives its value when it is shared.
      ♦   Hence, workers need convenient tools for creating and sharing knowledge.
      ♦   The “sweet spot” of knowledge will be found in a harmony of content and context.
      ♦   The most productive engine of knowledge is the small group, regardless of its
          organizational purity or affiliation.
      ♦   There is no one-size-fits-all principle for structuring knowledge data.
      ♦   Groups have differing leadership styles and needs and these can change over the
          life of the endeavor.
      ♦   Productive groups need a balance between “tight” controls as found in high-
          efficiency, native storage schemes and open or “loose” arrangements where external
          documents and objects can be linked to the project.
      ♦   There is no single answer for rules regarding knowledge ownership and accessibility.
          Let the group decide.
      ♦   Knowledge endeavors are living things.         Give them the proper environment to
          breathe and grow.

Knowledge and Collaboration for Project Managers               

                       A Practical Knowledge System (iS*Project)
   Knowledge and collaboration exists in a vast sea of human concerns, served by a very large
   universe of products and services, in turn organized into a seemingly confusing set of product
   categories. iS*Project is a practical knowledge system that helps project managers to build a
   knowledge system without imposing extra effort from the project team. The base knowledge
   structure is adopted from existing Microsoft Project Plans or start anew with a hierarchical
   structure. The Project Team uses existing interface tools such as MS Outlook, MS Project
   and MS Excel to access the knowledgebase build with iS*Project. This approach drastically
   reduces the training requirement to use the system. From a high level perspective, iS*Project
   is designed to provide the following:
   A framework for knowledge creation
   We realize that the small group is the engine of knowledge creation. iS*Project provides the
   framework for the small group to:
        • Create knowledge.
        • Capture it and organize it in simple, intuitive ways.
        • Make use of tools that are available and used today.
   A convenient tool for knowledge collaboration
    Update stored knowledge.
    Participate in discussion threads, using them in creative and flexible ways.
    Organize information intuitively, for others to access conveniently.
    No rigid data structures, the organization flows from the group.
   Monitor and manage phased activities
    Assign objects to project phases.
    Generate delivery reports for other team members, management and marketing.
    Quickly adjust phasing contents with no “dropped balls”.
   A toolkit for knowledge publishing
    Project knowledge is conveniently available.
    Assemble project knowledge “chunks” into publishable documents.
   A repository for knowledge archive and retrieval
    Research the earliest discussions on an important topic
    Trace knowledge evolution in time via discussions and documents
   Build and use Subject Matter Guides
    iS*Project repositories, views, discussion groups, and templates are pre-configured for a
    specific Subject Matter domain – such as ISO compliance or software development.
    Integrate documents and procedures for key process in iS*Project.
    Improve compliance with team process using built-in forms and tool settings.
   Empower the wisdom and effectiveness in the group
    iS*Project operates well under any group leadership model.
    Permissions and data access are all determined by the group.

Knowledge and Collaboration for Project Managers         

    iS*Project aims to stay grounded, highly practical, and close to the needs of ordinary
    workers of all kinds.

Knowledge and Collaboration for Project Managers                

                            iS*Project – A Tool for Project Managers
The iS*Project approach treats a task as a manageable unit where it has its own life cycle. Tasks
specified in an MPP file are entered into the system automatically and maintain bi-directional
updates. The structure of the tasks is maintained in the same fashion as an MPP project tree.

One natural and easy method of building this knowledge base is to select a platform which
supports and integrates with existing software. Not only do you receive the benefit of not having
to reenter the data, you also inherit the task management structure you have been using for
years. iS*Project is designed around the Microsoft Office Suite. Users who are accustomed to
Microsoft user interface paradigm already know how to operate iS*Project.

The following summarizes the functional categories representing the essential elements
supported by iS*Project to build a central project and task management knowledgebase.

                                        iS*Project maintains a database to keep the tasks and
                                        the project plans. Project managers and team members
 Project Plans Control                  share information in two ways: check out the project plan
                                        from the database, or updates individual tasks. With
                                        secure access and version control, the project plans can
                                        be shared, secured and yet available for whoever is

                                        Task details include detail descriptions of the task,
                                        attachments, discussions, content linking (to other tasks
 Task Details                           or documents) and logs of progress reports. Multiple
                                        versions save task changes as historical data.

                                        With a shareable project plans and the tasks detail, plus
                                        the inherit properties of task collaboration attributes such
 Collaborations                         as attachments, discussion, and status reporting,
                                        iS*Project is the ultimate project knowledge base for the

                                        Collecting work progress reports from the team is a
                                        mundane and time consuming task. Organizing the
 Task Progress Reports                  reports received is an even more time consuming
                                        endeavor. A more convenient way will be assigning the
                                        tasks to the team members via their own MS Outlook
                                        Task Folders, they fill out the progress of each task and
                                        the system organizes the status reports automatically. If
                                        there should be a question about the progress of a task,
                                        or if you wish to see all reports filed by a team member,
                                        simply obtain a report from iS*Project.          No more
                                        collecting reports, sifting through massive number of

Knowledge and Collaboration for Project Managers         

                                  emails to trace the progress of a task.

                                  iS*Project document library can be separated into three
                                  main categories: company-wide, project dependent and
 Document Library                 task related. Documents such as human resources
                                  handbook, vacation schedules, and employee phone
                                  book are considered as company-wide documents.
                                  Separating project dependent documents from the task
                                  related documents enables easy retrieval of pertinent
                                  documents during discussions and review of a task.

                                  With Executive Dashboard function, we can see the
                                  overall progress of the active projects at-a-glance.
 Executive Dashboard              Critical status such as tasks overdue or over budgeted
                                  tasks can be identified. Furthermore, once identified,
                                  iS*Project has the capability to allow you to drill down
                                  into the maximum detail of the task work progress.
                                  Information is presented from one spectrum of detail to
                                  another, all from an interface you already familiar with:
                                  MS Excel.

                                  You may setup views such as Critical Tasks View, View
                                  by Resources, View by Tasks over 3 weeks long and
 Views                            whatever criteria you wish to encode. Views are kept
                                  and recalled from a list easily. The extracted data can
                                  be viewed within iS*Project interface panels, or exported
                                  to MS Excel.

                                  For the project team to accept and use a new system,
                                  one must consider their learning curve. Workers already
 Integration with MS Office       are over-loaded. They just don’t have time to learn yet
                                  another system unless the system is extremely easy to
                                  learn and the benefit is significant. To ensure ease of
                                  use iS*Project ensures all screen interface, button
                                  locations and menu arrangements work similar to
                                  Microsoft Office.     Furthermore, iS*Project makes
                                  extensive use of the Microsoft integration platform.
                                  Tasks are assigned via MS Outlook, dashboard views
                                  are presented in Excel and the tasks plans are
                                  integrated with MS Project.

                                  Security cannot be overlooked. iS*Project supports role
                                  based security control, task level encryption (you can
 Secure Access from the LAN       encrypt the task details by a password you assigned),
 as well as the Internet          control access to the views and read/write/read-write

Knowledge and Collaboration for Project Managers         

                                  To further identify mishaps, iS*Project maintains an
                                  extensive modifications and read audit log. This audit-
                                  log records the Use IDs, the date and time of the activity,
                                  the activity itself.

                                  Backup/Restore operations are built into iS*Project.
                                  This backup is more than a database backup, it is a
 One touch backup/restore         backup of the entire iS*Project environment.
                                  Documents, Tasks, Attachments, Discussions, and
                                  Project Plans are combined and backed up to a device
                                  you choose. This ensures the integrity of the data.

Knowledge and Collaboration for Project Managers        

                                                                     Who We Are

                                  KM Sciences is a group of seasoned information
                                  technology veterans who have proven themselves in a
                                  variety of industry settings – from hardware design
                                  manufacture and OEM sales, to large-scale operating
                                  system / peripheral integration. We have worked for
                                  very large customers and very small. We look at the
                                  knowledge management problem with the eyes of
                                  experience, but with a fresh approach…
                                  We have implemented a project delivery tool that is
                                  multi-dimensional, yet highly practical for the small-to-
                                  medium team. It demonstrates immediate benefit –
                                  allowing project leads to “jump-start” their ideas into
                                  the early phases of a project. Yet it also has the
                                  potential to become more valuable as the project


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