It is safe to say that we are in very interesting times right now. Amid the transition to working from home arrangements, opportunity has presented itself to refocus and reassess ways we can be more efficient. One way is to review the way we work with information. Our shift to remote working has presented a need for greater accessibility and processing of documentation, information and knowledge.
It is evident through our own experiences, and that of our clients, that information and knowledge management foundations are important. We want to share an extract of work completed for a previous client as some of these lessons may be relevant to you today.
We are sharing it because it has been helpful in the past and we are sure it will be helpful to our community. Documents, Information and Knowledge each have their own definitions. In many cases, each may be managed in a similar manage, but the differences are clear. It may also help you to set expectations around how each can be managed. Let’s start with this…
Everything is a document!!!
Think about the word Document. Your first mental picture was more than likely a piece of paper, or a Microsoft Word Document. Whilst you may be right, you’re only partially right. Everything is a document. From the notes you take in a meeting, to the email you send and the Excel spreadsheet that is attached. Every piece of paper that you write on, or file that you store on your PC is in one way or another a document.
At the time of writing, the Oxford Dictionary defines a Document as ‘a piece of written, printed, or electronic matter that provides information or evidence or that serves as an official record’. That is, any matter that captures any textual or visual consumable is classed as a document.
You got it! We store information within Documents. Information, according to Wikipedia, is any entity or form that resolves uncertainty or provides the answer to a question of some kind. It is related to data and knowledge, as data represents values attributed to parameters (i.e. raw, without context or understanding), and knowledge signifies the understanding of real things or abstract concepts. Information can be conveyed in any audio / visual format.
Some may argue that, before information, comes data. For the most part they are right, however in a typical project environment where a service or product is being built, project documentation will typically contain information that describes what the product or service is, how it has been built and how it can be supported. We are therefore storing information in documents.
We all know this one… Information is Knowledge!
But only if it’s well-structured. That is, it’s presented in a manner that builds understanding, or knowledge! Knowledge can simply be defined as a familiarity, awareness, or understanding of something such as facts, information, descriptions, or skills, which is acquired through experience or education by perceiving, discovering, or learning. In business, this is typically presented as information stored within a knowledge base, or through structured training courses.
Knowledge in an organisation is a multidisciplinary approach to achieving organisational objectives by making the best use of knowledge, and focuses on improving performance, innovation, the sharing of lessons learned, integration and the sharing of lessons learned. In a project world, it gives us the power to make decisions, reduce re-work and improved project strategies the taking of through lessons learned, etc.
It’s 2020, who uses documents?!
You’d be very surprised. In many cases we have witnessed slow transitions to document-free environments. Utilising platforms such as the Atlassian Stack, Slack and other custom-built platforms for reporting, etc. but I can promise you… documents will be around for a VERY long time.
As long as reports are being printed for upper management review, project timelines are being printed and stuck on walls, contracts between vendors and client organisations are still being signed, etc. documents will be there!
COVID-19. A whole new appreciation for Knowledge Management.
Witnessing the impacts of COVID-19 to organisations and how they’re transforming their organisations to work remotely has been very interesting. It’s brought a whole new light on the need for proper Information and Knowledge Management. Whilst we can always video call colleagues to extract information from or collaborate with, it’s not the same as working in-person. There’s no Kanban wall to do morning stand-ups. It’s not as easy to turn to your colleague and say “Hey, do you know where the latest report is?”
Now is the time to refocus your energy on improving ways you work with information and knowledge. We promise remote working arrangements will highlight this need, and Agile Management Office are here to help you when it is needed.
Reach out to us today if you feel this is something we can help you with!
Phone: 1300 266 244