This paper aims to explore knowledge management with regard to project-oriented organizations, the key feature of which is the integrated work of various employees in a team. Today, knowledge presents the paramount asset of project-focused companies that need to not only produce new products and services but also accumulate and share information. In terms of projects, knowledge development is associated with a range of goals and stages, including planning, execution, and monitoring of results. In this connection, the effectiveness of managerial decisions largely determines the productivity of employees, their motivation, and outcomes of their work.In only 3 hours we’ll deliver a custom Benchmarking Knowledge Management Systems in Project-Based Organizations essay written 100% from scratch Get help
The paper also discusses the key success factors and the practical steps that are reviewed in the recent literature. It is proposed that the use of knowledge management in projects allows developing employees’ awareness of their tasks and contribution to the corporate mission, which promotes greater competitiveness and competence in the given field.
Knowledge is an ever-increasing competitive asset since it gives rise to new ideas, while knowledge also remains with those who share it. A competitive advantage based on knowledge is sustainable: the more a company knows, the more it can learn in a long-term period. Real dividends bring companies information about the professional qualities of employees, the customer base, a network of loyal suppliers, partners, customers, et cetera.
To manage knowledge means to find this knowledge, apply it to the relevant fields, gain new knowledge, and utilize it to create products and services. Throughout the entire production life cycle, all enterprise processes can benefit from knowledge management (KM). It is especially pertinent to project-based organizations (PBOs), which by accumulating and transferring the experience that was obtained earlier, it is possible to eliminate duplication of work and, accordingly, save financial resources and time.
This paper aims to highlight the fundamentals of knowledge management with regard to the performance of organizations that work on projects. The key factors, models, and trends are to be discussed in detail to present a comprehensive analysis of the identified topic. The research questions are formulated as follows to guide the study:
- What is the role of KM in PBOs effectiveness?
- How can KM be implemented in practice to facilitate the work of PBOs and help the companies to succeed in the modern competitive environment?
The main goal of the paper is to explore the recent literature and identify the trends, gaps, limitations, and research needs. The objectives associated with the given theme are also related to the need to determine the opportunities and barriers that occur with KM implementation in project-focused organizations. This paper is structured in accordance with the general presentation of the topic and its components, such as KM, project management, success factors, practical steps, and research agenda.
Benchmarking is an ongoing process, in which data on products, services, processes, and manufacturing technologies in leading companies is evaluated. It is the process of identifying, understanding, and adapting the existing examples of the effective functioning of a company in order to improve its performance (Kale & Karaman 2012). In this paper, benchmarking is understood as a critical review of KM in PBOs indicators and analysis. As a rule, data related to one time point is compared, while benchmarking is carried out over a certain period. Through benchmarking, it is expected to identify the current situation, and how this position can be enhanced, both in terms of research agenda and practical implications.Academic experts
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Knowledge is information acquired by a person or experience acquired by a person. Communication and the pull of knowledge compose a prerequisite for an employee to occupy a certain position within the organization since they should be used in the process of performing various tasks. Every employee engaged in the organization is a specialist, who needs knowledge for effective communication within the organization aimed at fulfilling its specific mission. Knowledge management is a concept that appeared approximately two decades ago in the 1990s (Kale & Karaman 2012). While it is largely defined as the organization and systematization of information and knowledge in a company, this description sounds vague and too broad, blurring the full picture.
Currently, there are several definitions of knowledge management. At the very beginning of the development of knowledge management systems, Davenport proposed a definition that is still used today (Almeida & Soares 2014).
Knowledge management is the process of collecting, disseminating, and effectively using knowledge. For example, Almeida and Soares (2014) consider that knowledge management is a systematic process by which the knowledge necessary for the success of a company is created, stored, distributed, and applied. In turn, Bartsch, Ebers, and Maurer (2013) define knowledge management as a process by which an organization manages to profit from the amount of knowledge or intellectual capital at its disposal. Asrar-ul-Haq and Anwar (2016) give the following definition: it is a set of managerial influences on the methods of organizing social relations in the field of production, dissemination, and utilization of knowledge.
A few years later, the Gartner Group proposed a more detailed definition. Knowledge management was determined as a system that involves an integrated approach to the search, collection, evaluation, restoration, and dissemination of all information assets of an enterprise (Asrar-ul-Haq & Anwar 2016). Such assets may include documents, databases, policies, procedures, as well as the knowledge and experience of individual employees that were not previously recorded.
This point of view has an organizational, corporate nature – historically, knowledge management systems have been formed precisely in organizations. One may conclude that the essence of the knowledge management system is to collect and record information and knowledge that employees own, disseminating this knowledge among all the members of the team.
In general, the literature on the given field is consistent in determining the aim of knowledge management, which is to enhance the efficiency of the processes within a specific economic framework, such as an enterprise, institution, or other forms of cooperation (Kale & Karaman 2012). It becomes evident that the foremost goal of knowledge management is to reduce the knowledge deficit, generate new units, and achieve competitiveness through the effective use of knowledge. Today, the project type of management tends to become more and more widespread, and, therefore, it seems important to consider knowledge management as a project management tool.
In the literature, knowledge is usually divided into explicit and implicit forms that are pertinent to the minds of employees. However, this classification seems to be too simplistic and even misleading. There is a more thoughtful and adequate classification of knowledge, which distinguishes between the explicit, potentially explicit and implicit knowledge types (Asrar-ul-Haq & Anwar 2016). Explicit consists of data or knowledge recorded on tangible media, while potentially explicit one composes information that is not yet fixed in material form, yet can be converted into explicit. Knowledge that is difficult to capture on tangible media can be regarded as implicit.15% OFF Get your very first custom-written academic paper with 15% off Get discount
A classic example of implicit knowledge is provided by Nonaka and Takeuchi, the point of whom is widespread in subject literature: to develop and launch a home bread machine, such kinesthetic knowledge was needed that engineers could only get by working hand in hand with bakers and studying the sensations of mixing real bread dough (Asrar-ul-Haq & Anwar 2016). The danger of a simplified division of knowledge only into explicit and implicit is that mangers begin to oversimplify the knowledge management methodologies. For explicit knowledge, they use the methods of collecting information, for implicit ones – the methods of connecting people. In this context, it is easy to miss the fact that in most cases, the conversion of implicit and potentially explicit knowledge into explicit knowledge is also required.
It is possible to highlight a range of features of project-oriented companies in order to better understand the benchmarks of implementing knowledge management. First of all, there are significant volumes of newly created knowledge, which is predetermined by the nature of project-oriented activities since projects by definition are aimed at creating a new, unique product or service and involve a high degree of innovation. Second, Kale and Karaman (2012) point to the disunity of subject specialists who work as part of project teams and are not able to exchange experience and knowledge with colleagues on an ongoing basis, as is the case with functional units. The need to develop mechanisms for effective cooperation along with the exchange of knowledge and ideas of specialists from different subject areas occur due to the conditions of the project teams’ organization.
In addition, a high need for knowledge and experience due to the fact that projects, as a rule, involve the creation of something new in a situation of high uncertainty, which means that expert hard-form knowledge and experience are extremely necessary. All of the above indicates that the development of a knowledge management methodology for project-oriented companies is a relevant task.
At the same time, one should admit that the issues of development, implementation and functioning of knowledge management in project-oriented companies still remain insufficiently developed, despite the fact that the bulk of the valuable knowledge of the company is acquired during the projects, and not the operating activities. The knowledge management methodology in a project-oriented company can be implemented at the following levels: a single project, corporate, and functional unit level.
Goal and Direction of KM in PBOs
The tasks of knowledge management in terms of projects are multiple, and it seems to be essential to pinpoint the most important ones. The creation of conditions for the use of existing knowledge and training employees in order to improve their skills, productivity and effectiveness of their work are the key goals. More to the point, the scholars note the improvement of the effectiveness of managerial decisions based on the use of new knowledge, as well as the use of implicit knowledge (Kale & Karaman 2012). The transfer and formalization of accumulated knowledge within the organization between its employees is another advantage.
KM in the PBOs includes three areas: creating additional value of available information by structuring knowledge; changing knowledge so that it can be used by other employees of the organization; and creating favorable conditions for the exchange of knowledge between employees. Otherwise, most organizations use a formalized organizational and managerial approach to knowledge management. This approach focuses mainly on the structure of the organization and its processes to best facilitate effective knowledge management. A formalized approach to knowledge management is aimed at ensuring a high level of professional training of personnel and its effective use. In the organizational and managerial aspect, the companies should work on the professional growth of personnel in order to develop human capital.
The provision on the basics of personnel policy should also include a methodological justification for evaluating human capital as an expression of the aggregate knowledge of workers. It should be noted that most organizations adhere to the traditional managerial model in relation to the assessment of human capital without directly reflecting the results of the assessment. In this case, knowledge management is carried out, practically without any control activity.Get your customised and 100% plagiarism-free paper on any subject done for only $16.00 $11/page Let us help you
As a result, human capital, which is a reflection of the value of the body of knowledge of employees of an enterprise, is not valued properly. Accordingly, knowledge management as a process is not efficient enough, and the reason lies in the lack of an objectively substantiated approach to assessing the value of accumulated knowledge. It was shown above that the assessment of the knowledge of employees of an organization can be made through an assessment of human capital and the potential for its use.
Conceptual Framework: Success Factors
In order to better understand the mechanisms that ensure benefits of KM in PBOs, it is critical to pay attention to the key factors that impact the success of KM initiatives. According to Ajmal, Helo, and Kekäle (2010), there are six dimensions that should be taken into account by project managers who coordinate the work of the entire team. In particular, authority, incentive, system, culture, coordination, and familiarity are distinguished by the mentioned authors as the factors that largely determine either failure of success of a project.
Among others, the most significant role is assigned to the dimension of familiarity, which means that all the team members should be aware of KM and associated strategies. Most importantly, the employees should be explained not only the general concepts but also the specific ways KM is to be introduced in a particular organization. Coordination refers to bringing people together and encouraging them to share knowledge, which is supposed to achieve via socialization and combination techniques.
The leader of a PBO should have a strong authority to guide others on the way to success. Ajmal, Helo, and Kekäle (2010) emphasize that not power yet the legitimacy to exercise the authority is the key premise of an effective project leader. The concept of authority must also be applied with regard to employees: it is not sufficient to merely motivate them to share knowledge. Instead, they should have an authority to use information and share with others. Nevertheless, the incentive for knowledge efforts should not be underestimated since it is a mechanism that makes the employees adopt a certain work style, take an action, or resolve a problem (Akhavan & Zahedi 2014).
The scholars agree in singling out the three types of incentives, including remuneration, coercive initiatives, and moral efforts. The latter often occurs when people consider one or another action proper or improper, while their decisions depend on the failure to do something inappropriately. It should be stressed that the most widely utilized approach to stimulating the staff is the combination of the mentioned strategies in an individual manner.
Speaking of the conceptual framework of KM in PBOs, one should specifically emphasize that knowledge should be perceived as a process, not a mere asset. Accordingly, the process formation, implementation, and monitoring require a system for handling information. A set of elements of the project work, when each of the employees works on a particular task, need to be integrated into a well-designed system, so that the decisions and challenges can be easily traced. The relationships between the system components are to be linked via structural relationships.
Last but not least, cultural support plays a great role in projects since their members often come from different countries, regions, and cultures. Every company has a distinctive corporate culture, and projects can be regarded as the unities that integrate not only work-related knowledge but also individual cultures.
The studies exploring KM from the cultural perspective state that successful projects are always sensitive to employees’ background, which provides the companies with another competitive advantage (Mainela & Ulkuniemi 2013; Pemsel & Müller 2012). Since all the discussed success factors are interrelated, they are to be employed simultaneously. For example, it seems to be rather difficult to motivate the staff without resolving their interpersonal; communication problems that are often based on the inability to respect and understand each other due to cultural specifics.
Knowledge Management as Part of Teamwork
With regard to knowledge management, team collaboration is a promising technique that ensures proper interaction and relationship building between employees. Designing questions, preparing answers, and brainstorming are integrated into one place as part of the team’s regular workflow (Sultan 2013; Pemsel, Müller, & Söderlund 2016). The creation of documents and their processing may occur through the cloud, thus allowing teams to record video conferences and calls and store all material for later viewing. After the design of the project, all archives are to be stored in the cloud to be available for search.
Speaking of knowledge management with regard to contractors with important roles in the team, including managers, engineers, and so on, it should be stressed that they have valuable information / knowledge. It is better to keep all this information when the contract ends, so that to use it in the future. In order to avoid the leak of knowledge, it is recommended to use simpler models for documents, for example, Wikis and project management platforms with such social tools as news feed and discussions. When these technologies are integrated into the workflow, the knowledge of an important person is recorded in the cloud. In other words, the contractors are also to be engaged in knowledge management in PBOs.
KM Leader Role in PBOs
In order for knowledge to penetrate the organization, it is essential to revise the value system along with the way employees do their work and permanently modify the corporate culture. Although previously, a lot of attention has already been attracted to the role of the leader in knowledge management, one should recognize that discussions on this issue as well as KM in general still present abstract theorizing and uncertainties (Todorović et al. 2015). Every employer understands the importance of leadership in the era of knowledge, but one must take into account that correctly defining this role and choosing a person or several employees for it is not an easy task.
Likewise knowledge, managing projects is not a question of tools and technologies, but the one of enhancing the use of collective intelligence by a new generation of managers. The difficulty lies in the unintentionally evasive nature of such leadership since unlike traditional managers, knowledge leaders do not clearly fall within the organizational structure. Often they lead temporary teams and wander from one business to another, revealing the secrets of the clash of information technology and applied solutions (Zheng, Wu, & Xie 2017). This position of knowledge leaders in the hierarchy tends to blur their importance. However, the ability of KM managers to increase the use of intellectual capital of the corporation is greater than that of many senior managers and even executive directors.
The role models of knowledge managers lead to the setting of new criteria for all managers. To ignore their example means to neglect the essential requirement for achieving competitive advantages in the 21st century – responsibility for intellectual human capital (Zheng, Wu, & Xie 2017). Knowledge management is characterized by a variety of roles and responsibilities, while some employees may perform the job of a de facto knowledge leader, with no change in job title, and formal responsibilities or salary increases. Therefore, it is critical to recognize them as high-paid top managers specially recruited for the mentioned post.
Knowledge managers typically have the following tasks: establishing the KM infrastructure; identifying resources and requirements; building a corporate culture; and monitoring the whole initiative for managing knowledge in the organization.
The goal is to simplify the creation, dissemination, and use of knowledge by others. Moreover, nothing in the words or the actions of knowledge managers should hint that they are better informed than others, as stated by Davenport (Sultan 2013; Pemsel, Müller, & Söderlund 2016). Knowledge managers can pay special attention to different aspects of their activities and job responsibilities, which is often reflected in the corporate structure. In some companies, they are accountable to the information or financial department, in others -they head a separate department directly reporting to the executive director.
The organization of exchange of experience and intensification of interaction between employees is regarded as one of the most effective strategies to implement KM. For example, the ex-CEO of Nissan, Carlos Ghosn, formed the cross functional teams (CFTs), realizing that if measures to implement fundamental changes were launched from above, then defeat would become inevitable. That is why the role of the main driving force of the planned changes was assigned to a specially created cohort of cross functional groups. Ghosn already had to use this strategy in his previous work related to the revival of other companies.
The successful revival of Nissan shows that it is a powerful tool with which the company’s specialists get the opportunity to look beyond the functional or geographical boundaries that limit their direct responsibilities.
Implementation of Knowledge Management Systems in Project-Based Organizations
Many companies view knowledge as an economic resource, which is the first step towards the transition to a knowledge economy. The implementation of knowledge management methods in project management increases the efficiency of personnel in the field of project management and improves the competitive position of the organization. Among practitioners, there is an opinion presented by Pemsel, Müller, and Söderlund (2016) that the use of methodology and tools for knowledge management is relevant for companies located at the highest maturity levels in the application of organizational project management.
If so, the introduction of knowledge management can be postponed until better times when the company will reach this high level. Contrary to this opinion, Reich, Gemino, and Sauer (2014) argue that in fact, knowledge management should begin when building corporate systems project management, rather than waiting for the company to reach the highest levels of development.
The use of the corporate knowledge environment for project management should be carried out in stages. The general trend is that as the level of maturity of the company grows, the amount of formal training and learning decreases. At the same time, such support tools as an electronic library, knowledge portal, and mentoring and career development systems receive less attention from employees. The proposed methodological approach to creating a knowledge management system in the field of project management can significantly escalate the level of competence of company personnel in the field of project management, which, in turn, contributes to more effective project management and promoting the company to further development in project management.
The corporate system of training on project management is widely discussed in the scholarly literature. Over the past five years, training has been the most popular form of project management education. According to some experts in the field of business education, training continues to confidently occupy its niche in the market of educational services for project management (Pemsel & Müller 2012). Although it is expected that it will be actively supplemented by other means, which should be identified for further clarity.
For example, the corporate project management help desk, also known as a hot line, creates the possibility of feedback with project management specialists, making it possible to promptly receive clear answers to specific questions, which promotes the formation of an internal psychological comfort for employees regarding the implemented corporate project management system.
The corporate mentoring system in the field of project management involves the identification and subsequent training of a group of experienced professionals. In project management, the involvement of beginners and less experienced employees in the professional development can help them in finding solutions to emerging problems. In addition, communication mentors may also be beneficial in terms of the mode of informal communication. In order for this system to work, it is necessary to elaborate a set of measures of material and non-material motivation for mentors, as well as conduct training with them on the working methodology. One of the tools to identify potential mentors – the best and most experienced program managers and project managers – is the knowledge portal.
Knowledge management presents the development opportunities of the organization’s personnel to create conditions for increasing the productivity and labor efficiency. Often, in modern organizations, knowledge management is implemented virtually without any control activity.
For example, the totality of knowledge of employees of an enterprise is not properly assessed (Pemsel & Müller 2012). Creating an assessment of the knowledge management system in an organization can be based on a quantitative assessment of the human capital of each of the employees. For these purposes, one can apply a formula that takes into account the initial cost of the human capital of a particular employee, the cost of his or her obsolete and acquired knowledge, as well as the cost of implicit knowledge and investment in a specific employee. As a result, the manager would understand the areas that require further improvement, which provides the basis for changing the ways KM is used on the company.
The growth of cloud-based software for project management and collaboration / communication programs seems to lead to great changes. Teams can now structure their documents and project communication, as well as capture all their knowledge in a browser or mobile device, making it a part of the natural workflow (Arpaci, 2017). The researchers exploring the use of KM in project teams note some important features and opportunities.
Data and information management as well as the search and retrieval of information through a platform’s search engine are beneficial for structuring information. Versioning a document through a system that identifies the last author, date of change, and other relevant information helps employees to identify the source of information and promote further discussion.
Cloud-based software also provides support for project and information workflow, using an integrated assistant. These tools greatly simplify the life of the team, but the project manager must ensure that this software is used correctly (Arpaci, 2017). It is about the proper centralization and structuring of all information in the cloud, taking into account all safety standards, so that in the future, any team member can find and use it. In other words, cloud-based projects and interaction platforms tend to become a central part of project-oriented organizations.
In PBOs, knowledge management cannot be merely deployed based on cloud tools. Instead, the organizations still need to link the knowledge management from their personal experience and the project plan. There is a lot of literature about creating a complete knowledge management strategy, but all this information does not focus specifically on PBOs. Basically, these resources compile knowledge management practices in regular project activities. There is the recommendation provided by Ragab, and Arisha (2013) to make knowledge management part of the project plan. It is critical to look for the ways to enable auditing for business and technical challenges with cloud-based tools, placing the project document in a central repository for a long period.
Example of a Specific Model of KM Use in PBOs
The critical review of the literature on knowledge management in project-based organizations shows that it cannot be reduced to mere providing of discussion forums for employees and partners of the enterprise. Instead, the underlying idea is to ensure that discussions are focused and responsive. Therefore, the information in the knowledge management system should be highly structured. Project management offers its structuring for project information: documents and resources, dependencies and milestones. Obviously, the knowledge management system should structure information according to this ontology of project management as a set of concepts and relationships between them.
The basic idea comes from the creation of an organizer in project management, which allows displaying the means of information achieved by people in the course of their communication understanding (knowledge management). The communicator, a module for online support for managing knowledge in projects, is to be designed to help communities and corporations with a large number of horizontal connections. It is concerned about the implementation of projects, yet not intended to puzzle employees in tight administrative-command systems and preliminary resource planning of large projects. Such a system is perfect for supporting mutual understanding of current plans in diverse sets of working groups and ensuring the coordination in the situation with daily changing plans.
Another distinction of the proposed model in a project knowledge management system is that it is specially tuned to daily changing plans. In this connection, it does not knowingly implement a long-term planning unit, including expressing time dependencies between tasks in the sense of project management. It also seems to be significant to calculate the critical path, summarize the required resources, et cetera.
This model can help its users to remain aware in the situation of many semi-dependent small projects that are planned and carried out in numerous working groups. This is exactly how many corporations are arranged, in which various working groups work on many different client orders, in which the needs of clients change almost daily during the course of work. It is a promising solution for project teams that barely manage to deploy their projects depending on the current environment, both inside and outside the company.
Such systems are also distinguished by the fact that many external people can be involved in them, being located in a variety of geographical areas and having different administrative submissions. All these continuously arriving people need to quickly get in the course of business, which points to the need to that the knowledge platform should be intentionally left as simple as possible by a system that did not include numerous functions of both project management systems and workflow management systems. The model should be designed as a collective organizer, where groups of people can record their mutual understanding about the work performed and their distribution among the participants.
The key components of the proposed model involve:
- Materials (texts, files, links, books, etc.);
- Work (tasks, stories, operations, work directions, cards, etc.);
- Directions of work (projects, stages, releases, etc.);
- Comments (remarks in discussions);
- Users (employees, managers, operators, administrators, customers, and contractors);
- Working groups (user groups with the same authority – teams, departments, project groups, etc.).
Knowledge management in a project-based organization presents an ongoing process that is manifested in the interconnection between the categories of human capital and personnel development. In the view of the literature review provided in the previous section of this paper, one may conclude that further research should focus on the continuity of the process and the consideration of the possibilities of increasing human capital in terms of KM.
The level of knowledge management is determined in many respects by the capabilities of the enterprise. A criteria list of factors that allow influencing the knowledge of employees of the enterprise and formalization of knowledge and knowledge management procedures require a deeper investigation. The interaction between managers and employees of various functional departments should also be studied to allow comprehensively, discussing the topic and removing current challenges that arise, and create conditions for the companies to freely exchange knowledge and successfully perform project activities.
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