Stages Involved in Implementation of a Knowledge Management: The actual implementation of a knowledge management system in an organization may generally involve five distinct stages:

Stage 1: Advocate and Learn: The first stage in the development of a knowledge management system comprises the following elements: (a) introducing knowledge management; (b) identifying the KM team and focal points; (c) learning about the experiences of other organizations; (d) identifying advocates of knowledge management; and (e) promoting wide-ranging support to the KM initiative. The key actions at this stage are summarized below:

  • The introduction of KM may be initiated at the highest level, for example, the organization’s chief executive officer or it may be an initiative of the human resources department or the IT department. Advocacy is the very first task to define KM, make it known to others in the organization, and develop an initially small group of KM supporters. Opportunities should be provided to the staff to learn more about KM through activities such as in-house seminars and workshops and to share stories of how KM helped other successful organizations.
  • Identifying the members of the KM team and focal points will support the development of KM and serve as advocates of knowledge management. The KM team should report to as high in the management as possible in order to get top management support.
  • Learning from the experiences of other organizations will introduce the benefits of knowledge management. By talking to people involved with strategic initiatives, it might be possible to translate some of the experiences of other organizations into concrete policies and actions that could prevent repeating earlier mistakes.
  • The people from the IT department are potential advocates and catalysts for emerging KM support technologies since they are already familiar with the technology aspect of knowledge management.
  • Wide-ranging support may be obtained if the KM team can clearly and convincingly explain to the staff what the KM objectives are, what issues are being addressed, how KM can help the organization meet its objectives, and how it will benefit the staff and help them perform their work more efficiently and effectively.

Stages Involved in Implementation of a Knowledge Management

Stage 2: Develop Strategy: During the second stage of the knowledge management roadmap, there are four activities that should be implemented. These are: (a) identify and characterize the knowledge assets of the organization; (b) develop an overall KM framework with clear goals and objectives; (c) conceptualize and prepare the preliminary design of some strategic KM pilot projects, and (d) prepare an indicative budget and find the resources to support the selected KM pilot projects.

The overall objective of this stage of implementation is to formulate a KM strategy that fits the organization’s business model. From this KM strategy, business opportunities can be identified and initialized as pilot initiatives. A task force should then be established to take charge of these activities on behalf of the organization. The key actions at this stage are summarized below:

  • The first action is to form a task force for the implementation of the pilots. This KM task force must also be cross-functional coming from as many different divisions or sections of the organization. Some members of the task force must be high enough on the organizational management ladder in order to facilitate support from top management as well as from the staff directly under them.
  • The second action is to carefully select the pilots or, if possible, identify current initiatives that could be treated as pilots or modified slightly to constitute a pilot. If there are current initiatives that are already funded and staffed that can be considered under the new framework of knowledge management.
  • The third action is to meet and coordinate with the relevant division or section to identify and allocate the resources to support the pilots. The proposed pilots will move based on the resources, both human and financial. The resources of highest priority and importance are the skilled and interested staff members who can facilitate the initiative.

Stage 3: Design and Launch KM Initiatives: The project is now entering the third stage, which involves the successful launching of pilots and gathering of initial results. With the KM pilot projects provided with adequate funding for full implementation, it is necessary, at this stage, to develop methodologies. The overall objectives of this stage are to conduct successful pilots, provide tangible evidence of the business value of the knowledge management initiative, and capture lessons learned. To attain these objectives, specific actions will have to be implemented as listed below:

  • The first action is to release the money to fund the pilot projects and to assign a KM oversight group, such as a steering committee or cross-unit task force, to reallocate organizational resources, such as money and time, for KM initiatives.
  • The second action is to develop methodologies that can be replicated. There will be a need to combine knowledge providers and knowledge users in a seamless community of practitioners. It is important to encourage active participation of the entire organization in the KM process with face-to-face networking.
  • The third action is to capture and record lessons The oversight group must discuss lessons learned at regular meetings and provide a common space for sharing the results. To complete this adequate answers should be provided to questions such as: What made the pilots most successful? Are the results worth investing in for expansion? How can the pilots be expanded?

Stages Involved in Implementation of a Knowledge Management

Stage 4: Expand and Support: By the time the fourth stage is reached, which could take a few years, the organization would have gained quite a bit of expertise in managing knowledge. Stage four will involve expanding and supporting the KM initiatives throughout the organization. The overall objectives of this stage are to develop and market an expansion strategy throughout the organization and to effectively manage the growth of the KM system. The key actions at this stage are summarized below:

  • The first action is to develop an expansion strategy. For this purpose two approaches are available: first, the pilot selection criteria for programs in other departments can be applied; or second, an all-at-once strategy to universally apply KM can be developed.
  • The second action is to communicate and market the KM strategy. This can be done through a variety of means such as widely disseminating information about the KM initiatives throughout the organization; knowledge fairs, or regular meetings in connection with the KM initiative and pilots; or advertising the KM initiative on the intranet or through brochures and pamphlets.
  • The third action is to manage KM growth by controlling the confusion from the expansion of KM initiatives that normally happens at this stage. One way of achieving this is by providing a transparent and consistent online policy that can keep KM resources organized, consistent, and easily accessible.

Stage 5: Institutionalize Knowledge Management: The final stage involves making knowledge management an integral part of the organizational processes. At this stage, the organization has to redefine its strategies, review its organizational structure, and revisit its performance assessments. At this final stage of KM implementation, the organization is already aware that KM is a business strategy. In order to fully institutionalize knowledge management, the following actions will need to be undertaken:

  • The first action is to embed KM in the business model. At this stage, KM needs to be incorporated into the organization’s mission statement, management model, or assessment process.
  • The second action is to realign the organization’s structure and budget in accordance with the KM strategy. At this stage, it is essential to reorganize budget and departmental responsibilities to accommodate the wide development of KM as a business strategy.
  • The third action is to constantly monitor and evaluate the strength of the KM system. For this purpose, an external KM evaluation panel may be employed, or an internal KM maturity evaluation may be conducted, or KM feedback on employee surveys may be included. Based on the results of these evaluations and surveys, corrective actions and measures should be immediately undertaken.
  • The fourth action is to align the performance evaluation and rewards system with the KM strategy. It is necessary at this point to include KM standards with performance appraisals and reviews. In addition, recognition awards may be given to people who exemplify the ideals of the KM strategy.
  • The fifth action is to balance the organizational KM framework with local control. Implementing this action will require linking organization-wide business goals to local KM activities to provide necessary consistency.
  • The sixth and final action is to continue the KM journey. As the organization becomes a true knowledge-sharing enterprise, the demand for knowledge processes will continue to increase. In order to sustain robust KM implementation, it is crucial to maintain senior leadership support to help the organization keep pace with demand.

In the final analysis, the knowledge organization will find that the critical success factors for keeping the KM spirit alive include the following: the ability to maintain the full and active support of a committed and involved leadership; the presence of a motivating and consistent vision to make the organization a learning one; the care is taken to ensure that KM initiatives are started only when and where people are ready; the ability to identify role models; and the use of effective means to communicate constantly and effectively about KM initiatives and business needs.