To be successful, KM and portals must focus on real business challenges at the functional and process level. This results in function specific solutions and business cases. Attempts to build a generic enterprise business case for KM can fall into such vague concepts as “saving everyone twenty minutes a day” which become meaningless to balance sheet.
Does this mean that enterprise knowledge management is an oxymoron? Not necessarily as these divisional solutions can operate with improved results under a common enterprise infrastructure as we found at Sainsbury’s. This common structure can provide both operational efficiencies, clarity on governance issues, and enhanced cross-functional collaboration and knowledge sharing.
In a KM Review article, "Mastering Entreprise Knowledge Management," I did with Kasper De Boer, we offer suggestions on how to get the most out of taking your KM efforts across the enterprise. There a series of key decisions to address.
First, you need to pick realistic goals to ensure that EKM stays aligned with enterprise business goals at the functional level.
You can then define and design the components of the EKM services.
After that you can determine which services are best handled at a global, functional, or local level.
This also allows you to decide which services to outsource, buy, or build internally.
The decisions do not stop here, an EKM organization and its services must be properly positioned with other enterprise support services such as learning and performance management. This final integration step is essential to successfully coordinate the efforts of each of these functions, both minimizing turf wars and optimizing enterprise level performance.
The article explores these decisions points in more depth and is built around several case examples. It also suggests some realistic enterprise-wide goals for KM.