A KM pilot project seeks to introduce and combine a number of KM elements to address a specific business problem. This has two key benefits:
- It enables the wider KM implementation effort to trial, test and adjust KM framework elements before rolling them out to the entire organisation, thereby minimising disruption and cost;
- It alleviates problems and wins further investment from senior management, as well as creating 'good news' stories with which KM can be sold to the wider organisation as part of a communications plan.
First off, run a workshop at which current business issues can be discussed and a shortlist of viable pilots selected. The following steps might come in handy:
- Send out calling notice across the organisation, inviting functional leads and/or senior managers to present and discuss their current 'pain points' - a rough agenda at this stage;
- Book venue, facilitator, workshop 'stuff' (i.e. flipcharts, post-its, pens etc.);
- Send out confirmatory notice, with a finalised agenda;
- Suggested workshop agenda:
- Introductions - of one another
- Introduction to knowledge management (KM) - to create a common understanding
- KM tools, processes, approaches - to show what KM elements involve and achieve
- KM case-studies - to demonstrate how KM alleviates problems and creates value
- Presentations - each team or department describes their current issues
- Discussion - combinations of KM elements are suggested for each problem, for example:
Having identified a number of areas where KM might help, a system of voting and selection is needed to enable a KM pilot project to be planned. This can happen at the above workshop or afterwards, based on written-up notes etc. Methods may vary, but a number of criteria should be considered to enable each potential pilot to be judged fairly. The following are suggestions only - there will be others:
- Business impact
- Is knowledge a key factor in delivering business performance?
- Will the impact of the knowledge be demonstrated in a short enough time?
- Business advocacy
- Is there a local business sponsor?
- Will there be a local person accountable for the delivery of the KM project?
- Transferability and reach
- Do cross-business customers exist for the knowledge gained from the project?
- Will the knowledge and learnings from the project have strategic potential for growth?
- Can we make time/space for people to work on the project?
- Do we have enough skilled KM resources available?
Each potential pilot project can be awarded scores against each of these criteria, with the highest 3 shortlisted for further scope definition and a GO/NO GO decision from senior management.
Having selected a KM pilot project, we must now plan it. This will require a number of in-depth conversations with key stakeholders, to understand fully the current business context and then formalise a planned response.
The output from these inter-actions will be terms of reference document and implementation plan, covering:
- Context - why is this happening?
- Scope - what is included? What is not?
- Stakeholders - who's involved?
- Governance - who's in charge?
- Approach - how do we do this?
- Resources - who can help?
- Costs - how much?
- Schedule - when and in what order?
- Deliverables - what will we have to show for our efforts?
- Benefits - how much value will we create?
- Metrics - how do we measure success?
The costs and benefits can be presented in a business case, which is a discrete activity in its own right and which I will examine in greater depth in another post.