Thursday, February 2, 2012

Knowledge Repository (The Foundation)

One of the key components in Knowledge Management (KM) is Knowledge Repository. Wikipedia defines Repository as a location for storage, often for safety or preservation.

Speaking about knowledge repository, we don’t always speak about database or data-warehouse, text files, emails, etc. Knowledge repository talks about something broader. We are not only talking about where the data and information stored, but also how the data and information is organised to create valuable knowledge for the company. There are two main things to discuss when we talk about knowledge repository. We are discussing about knowledge map and knowledge quality assurance.

Knowledge map can simply be thought as the classification or categorisation of knowledge. One knowledge can have one or more categories or classes. The categorisation of knowledge makes it easier for the programmers and end users to develop and use the Knowledge Management System (KMS). For example, instead of developing a comprehensive algorithm to search into the content of media files, like audio files, we can just put the files into the appropriate category so that the users who want to access the files can find those files by just simply looking and opening the appropriate category. It also ease the work of the knowledge management system developers.

However, there is one thing we need to use as our base when developing the knowledge map, that is the core knowledge of the company. Different companies can have different core knowledge, so there is no “one size fit all” map for the knowledge. We need to really understand how the daily activities of people and processes in the company to create a good knowledge map. A good knowledge map is important to give users better usability of the knowledge management system. To further improve this, we need to do the source description and source identification process to ensure that we have the correct source for the appropriate knowledge.

Knowledge quality assurance is the process where the knowledge leader and hist/her helpers, who usually the trusted ones, ensuring that the knowledge entered into the knowledge management system is valid. This process must be done before the knowledge has already been entered into the system. Why? Knowledge management system can have thousands of knowledge from thousands of contributors. Ensuring the validity of these large number of knowledge in the online system can lead to exhaustion of the knowledge auditors. However, we still need to maintain the existing knowledge in the evaluation process to ensure that our knowledge is always up to date and relevant with current situation.

At last, there is also one think we need to consider when we design the knowledge repository, that is the security of the knowledge. We need to define what kind of knowledge that can be accessed by the whole employees, what kind of knowledge that can be accessed by the managers and above, and what kind of knowledge that can be accessed only by the board of directors. This clear definition of access control ensures that our knowledge cannot be easily leaked and used by the outsiders.

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