Knowledge Improvement

March 14, 2010

If forming a team for high performance and training it up for peak performance is an important professional responsibility of immediate concern over the project lifecycle, knowledge improvement qualifies as a little longer term. Actually there are two parts in this. One is of immediate concern, as the organization’s process assets keep getting updated they are useful immediately thereafter during the life of the project. The other component that is long-term is useful for increasing the organization’s competence over time. With the accumulated knowledge the organization gets better equipped for the type of project being executed. General aspects of such knowledge upgrade are useful in any other project handled by the organization.

The project manager’s responsibility in all thus

The knowledge management is through the update of an organization’s process assets. That it is a very important activity is easy to understand intuitively. For example, a vital activity of estimating activity durations takes a lot of knowledge and understanding about what is involved in carrying out the same. In fact, example could be taken from just about any area of project activities where expert judgment is called for. The expertise is built on a large base of experience. Being able to estimate these activities has an angle not only the success of the project, but also the costs and time required for the same. As long as the estimates are accurate reasonably, project success can be ensured. But for the most optimum cost and time expenses, the estimates need to be very accurate indeed.

When an organization takes up a certain type of project the expertise available or accessible from outside may not be enough to provide you the best possible estimates. However, as the organization is able to refine the estimates through accumulated experience of doing multiple projects of similar nature, the estimates would tend to be optimum. This constant refinement thus is absolutely essential for an organization. It is easy to see how any relevant knowledge refined through the project life cycle can be useful for estimating activities later on the project. This can extend to even the efficiency of capturing information most efficiently or of communicating information most effectively etc. Thus the project manager’s goal of managing the knowledge collection and updating the existing knowledge is immediate goal and a long-term one.

For the health of the project the manager needs to ensure that at every point the organization’s process assets are called for as inputs and updates are produced for adding to the knowledge are carried out absolutely religiously. As project management is about managing such a profusion of details, information and issues that it’d be easy to lose sight of this knowledge management aspect. The project manager, despite his diverse burden and the demand on his attention, must take care of the knowledge update and management.

The process that contributes to the long-term aspect of the long-term aspect of it is the closing of a project or a phase of it. These processes call for collecting, organizing and updating of accumulated knowledge. Lessons learned are an important aspect of the knowledge collection. Archiving of the project files, particularly at the closure of a project is very important to the effort. Many organizations formalize this lessons learned phase through a formal “post mortem” session. Here all aspects of the project executions, mistakes made, revelations about doing things efficiently and so on are discussed threadbare and the knowledge gained documented. The project manager would need to ensure such processes are carried out and documented.

What helps additionally is to collect the knowledge in the form of a knowledgebase in a information system. This should provide an efficient means of organizing the knowledge data. What that means, usually, is the ability to add as much metadata as possible to accurately describe the data. This helps in organizing the data of course, but more importantly the data can be found easily when required.

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