Role of Intranet in KM

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Summary

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This article discusses some of the pitfalls organizations need to be aware of, when using Intranet as a tool for implementing Knowledge Management.

Knowledge Management

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Most organizations are trying to achieve the holy grail of Knowledge Management: ‘Making right information available to right person at all times’.

One of the many ways organizations are trying to achieve this goal is through use of Intranet. For some organizations implementing KM within an organization equates to putting an Intranet in place, and making it the end and be all for KM.

Organizations have been led to believe that having an Intranet will make lead to employees sharing information on it. However more often than not intranet has ended up as a publishing tool, or a static repository for web pages or documents and as a dumping ground for business documents.

Information within Intranet

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Information most of the times found on Intranets is:

-Corporate information

-HR information like various forms, canteen menu, internal jobs etc.

-Marketing Information

-Industry news & reports

-News articles relating to company

-Message/Bulletin boards for internal users

-Memos from management

-Information which was previously held solely in paper form

In essence intranets end up becoming a “virtual water-cooler or coffee machine” where employees may view information, post messages, and in general keep up with what’s happening in the organization.

Right Kind Of Information

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All above kind of information is a nice to have information on intranet, which has it’s own benefits, but that’s not the ‘right kind’ of information that organizations should have in mind when planning a KM strategy.

What employees would benefit from is information, which aids them in their day-to-day work. Perhaps they’d like to see a similar document on the topic they are working on, or find who else is working on a similar area to theirs, or find a similar RFP that they are preparing. Meaningful information, which aids in employees day-to-day work, is not created on intranet. Employees continuously generate information in their day-to-day work, and in their day-to-day work environment [e.g.: word document, engineering drawings, project reports, email updates etc.]. It is precisely this information organizations want to make available, but unfortunately asking employees to place that information on intranet, is not the way it may work.

As an employee my primary job is perform my day to day work, like complete the task or project that I am working on, write that RFP, complete that research paper and so on. Most of the times these tasks are performed under tight deadlines and pressure, and sharing information about my day to day work on intranet is the least of my worries.

Challenges

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The real challenge is to share and make information, generated by employees in their day-to-day work, available to right persons who wish to use it.

Intranet can play a vital role, that of a ‘delivery mechanism’ for such information, rather than a role ‘Information Generation’.

The sooner the organizations realize this, the better.

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