Project professionals must use knowledge to the greatest advantage in their work. Companies that rely on their knowledge assets understand the competitive advantage it can help develop by allowing them to manage projects more efficiently.
Knowledge management is all about systematically developing and sharing knowledge and information throughout the entire organization. Adopting knowledge management involves three major elements: process, people, and tools.
The people in the organization adopting knowledge management need to understand how important information and knowledge are to the organization’s success. The organization also needs to have a knowledge management framework and embed that framework into project management methodology and processes. Finally, the organization will need to use technologies and tools that are managing information and knowledge, such as knowledge management systems, data archives for storing and retrieving information, internet tools like blogs and wikis, as well as online communities.
That being said, here is how project managers can use knowledge management to effectively manage their projects.
1. Improved Decision-Making
Making effective business decisions and offering solutions can be difficult without a consistent operative knowledge management system.
In today’s corporate world, it takes more than employing standard project management procedures for a project to be successfully completed. All project contributors need to be able to communicate among themselves, continually share individual knowledge, and let others know what they are working on at the moment. In other words, improved efficiency depends on individuals nurturing an atmosphere of knowledge sharing.
For that reason, project managers need to find ways to encourage collaboration and communication among team members. One strategy to achieve this is to assign employees from different departments to work on a project together. Another option is rotating jobs so that employees bring with them knowledge from other departments.
2. Better Risk Management
Project managers can use knowledge from past projects and historical data to prepare and anticipate future risks, deal with emergencies and uncertainties, and achieve a more thoughtful, experienced level of project management.
The company can prepare templates and elaborate risk management and mitigation plans that project managers can use in order to ensure that new projects have all the necessary knowledge and information in place to help them deal with uncertainties.
3. Maintaining Corporate Knowledge
Acquisitions, mergers, and downscaling are common practices when it comes to company project management. Using a knowledge management system can help you preserve and maintain corporate knowledge.
A major reason for an acquisition is often the objective of gaining new knowledge from the acquired company and then transferring that knowledge within the acquiring organization. The process of knowledge transfer is quite complex and numerous challenges can arise along the way, but having a knowledge management system in place will certainly make things a lot easier.
In the case of downscaling, employees are required to leave, which means that their information resources will also leave with them. Having a knowledge management system will captivate these resources, saving the company tons of time that would be lost on rebuilding them, while at the same time simplifying the learning curve for new employees.
Project managers can use informal and formal methods to encourage workers to share their knowledge. Since formal methods like seminars, official training, and boardroom meetings often seem daunting or even intimidating, they should consider encouraging informal ways like discussions via social media to break the ice among senior and new staff members.
4. Boost Employee Productivity and Efficiency
Knowledge management tools can help project managers to create and maintain a big knowledge database to make sure that every team member is on the same page and that all codes and policies regarding a process are transparent. In this way, besides boosting better teamwork, they will also improve employee efficiency and productivity.
The most common methods of knowledge sharing in relation to project management include knowledge base access via dedicated tools, workshops, self-paced or trainer-led courses, work-related practical learning, and peer-to-peer interactions.
5. Personal Learning and Sharing
In every project, the human element in decision-making supplements and complements the knowledge that project managers gain from knowledge management systems. This means that regardless of how good the knowledge management system is, the project managers will need to meet up and share insights and learning.
One of the best methods to deal with uncertainties is to make sure that other project managers are “kept in the loop” when it comes to knowledge sharing. Even the best project managers could benefit from learning about the successes and mistakes of other project managers so that they emulate the successes and avoid repeating the mistakes.
When you’re closing a project out, remember to store important documents related to the project, such as work breakdown structure (WBS), project charter, communication plan, change control documents, schedule, issues and risk log, etc. All these could serve as bases for templates for future projects. A post-project review is a great way to capture information for the knowledge base.
Knowledge is being increasingly valued as an asset crucial for sustaining a competitive advantage. Knowledge management provides an efficient way to capture knowledge and information from projects, transfer the data, and apply it to future projects. Project management, on the other hand, largely focuses on valuable information, and it requires proficient project managers who have the right knowledge whenever and wherever they need it.
Applying knowledge management methods to project management practices can lead to improved communication and decision-making, continuous improvement in project performance, enhanced employee efficiency, better project integration, and reduced risks.