"Learn Before Doing" is one of the core mantras of Knowledge management. However there is often a lack of definition as to what this learning entails, and a lack of focus and clarity on who is accountable for what learning. KM plans deliver that clarity.
The concept of a project-level Knowledge Management plan is one of the most exciting new ideas to come out of Knowledge Management in the past 5 years. It is a device that allows Knowledge Management to be fully embedded into project controls, at the same level of rigour as risk management, or document management. It allows the assignment of accountabilities to individual project team members, and allows these accountabilities to be monitored and reviewed. Knowledge Management plans allow Knowledge Management to evolve to become a true management discipline; a component part of an integrated project management approach rather than an add-on or an aspiration.
A Knowledge Management (KM) Plan is an organized, systematic and focused approach to identifying and implementing the knowledge goals and objectives of a project. It is a document for a specific project, department or function, which details; " What knowledge is needed by the project " What knowledge will be created by the project " What system of processes, technologies and roles will be used to manage knowledge within the project, " What actions need to be taken to implement the system, and " Which people are accountable for individual actions.
A KM plan has three main components.
The plan is created at a KM Planning workshop, early in the project, held as part of the set-up activities; about the same time the team are developing their risk management plan, their document management plan, and other front-end planning activities. The KM planning workshops follow a standard process, where
The plan is used by senior management to review whether a project is applying KM, and has identified all the critical knowledge inputs and outputs. It is reviewed at project stage gates. The plan is also used by the project KM champion to track learning actions, and the close-out of lessons learned,
A Knowledge Management plan therefore takes the broad topic of Knowledge Management, and turns it into a specific definition, tailored for the project, of who should be doing what, by when, using which tools, in order to manage knowledge for the benefit of the project, and for the benefit of the company.
As an analogy, a Knowledge Management plan contains the same degree of detail, process and rigour as a Risk Management plan. Knowledge and Risk are two of the main intangibles that need to be managed through the project.