Saturday, October 13, 2007

Project - Knowledge - Management

Another question from Hari...

From what I understand, most organizations will have some computerized way of managing projects and its artifacts. A KM system will have to consume this content... right?Ex. - Suppose a task has been assigned to some employee within a project management system. The employee has some questions and poses this on a discussion board attached to the task. The manager responds to these questions. All of this has to be 'searchable' from the KM system. So my question is, how should the relationship between the KM system and the PM system be envisaged? Will the KM system consist of a full fledged PM system within it? (I think not).Hari


This, I think, is a very important and interesting question. I certainly believe that project management and Knowledge Management applications/tools need to lead a hand-in-glove existence. As expected, we have PM product vendors cater to some of the fundamental KM requirements and vice versa. I’ve come across quite a few PM products that have a knowledge repository, tips and tricks databases, learning boards, best practices repository etc. Similarly, products that are positioned exclusively in the area of KM actually have features and components that cater to the needs of project management. For example, Microsoft’s KM and Collaboration product - SharePoint - has team spaces that house discussion boards, task lists, meeting spaces, calendar management and the like.

In my perception too, a KM system, going by the current trends, cannot possibly cater to all the requirements of project management. But, from what I have seen and experienced so far, I believe that one of the efficient ways of handling the relationship between PM and KM would be to build in the fundamental KM features into the PM product and then integrate the output of the same with the organizational KM system. It ought to work the other way around as well – The output of the KM system needs to be made available at the appropriate places in the PM product. Example – Best Practices and Learnings from the PM product should be linked to the KM system based on an appropriate workflow. Similar projects from the organizational project database in the KM system should be linked to the PM product in order to help project managers extract such data at the time of project initiation etc.

Some of the thumb rules/pointers for the integration of the PM and KM products could be as follows:

1. What are the organizational knowledge artifacts that project managers need at the time of project initiation, during the course of the project and at the time of project closure?

2. What are the knowledge artifacts and people information needed by the organizational KM system from projects during its initiation, execution and closure?

3. What are the Knowledge Management and collaboration features required by a project team? These need to be incorporated either in the PM product or KM product (at a level lower than the organizational level) depending on the existing products and other requirements of the organization. For example, if the PM product being used is a simple one with features revolving around metrics and overall project health-checks, it makes better sense to leverage on the KM system for KM and collaboration requirements within the project and simply drop a link to the PM product (reports, dashboards, overview etc) within such a space. On the other hand, if the organization is using a sophisticated PM product that has room for KM and collaboration, then only the knowledge output needs to be linked to the KM system.

4. Analyze PM processes and activities to understand the knowledge generation and utilization aspects and this will lead to a lot of worthwhile discoveries that will answer the questions related to the link between PM and KM.

Does this answer your question? Helpful? :)


prdude said...

You might want to take a look at Vertabase. We use it to manage our marketing firm's client projects. It does serve us well as a KM tool. Its built into the process Vertabase uses (

Hari said...

Thanks for the answer Nimmy. I haven't digested it fully, so have not come to any conclusions on how I want to propose the integration between the PM and KM systems. You are right though... the integration strategy depends on what sort of PM system the client has.
I am veering towards having a set of integration interfaces within the KM, for communicating with the PM system and have one reference PM system integrated with our KMS (to showcase that we can achieve such integration). This could be our standard Microsoft Project (for starters). I shall keep you posted on what transpires with my product manager.