This article focuses on four of the main focal areas within the discipline of unstructured Information Management including:
- Knowledge Management
- Enterprise Content Management
- Document Management
- Records Management
The article begins by comparing and contrasting these disciplines and demonstrates how a framework can be used to benefit each.
What is Knowledge Management?
The readers of TDAN.com are intimately familiar with the discipline of Information Management, which is all about managing information as an enterprise asset, like people managed by the Human Resources department (HR), or finances managed by the Finance department. Knowledge Management (KM) is a sub-discipline of Information Management that generally focuses on what people know and assists them to articulate their knowledge so that the organization can benefit from it.
De Stricker and Shamel provide a comprehensive definition of Knowledge Management below:
- Knowledge management encompasses the policies, practices, conventions, and habits associated with discovering, acquiring or capturing, storing for future access, manipulating, sharing, and then applying data, information, and insight to organizational work processes.
- In turn, the knowledge management processes of finding, sharing, and applying knowledge produces new data, information, and insight to be captured and stored.
- The many tools used to support knowledge management processes are necessary enablers but do not in themselves constitute knowledge management.
The Gartner Group’s definition uses the term “discipline.” This implies that a rigor and structure are superimposed on the processes in order to obtain results:
“Knowledge management is a discipline that promotes an integrated approach to identifying, capturing, evaluating, retrieving, and sharing all of an enterprise’s information assets.”
O’Dell suggests knowledge Management is about “Connecting people to people and people to content.”
Two major components emerge when these definitions are considered: People and Content. KM involves putting processes in place to assist people in discovering and uncovering knowledge and insights, to share and collaborate with others, and to develop techniques and technologies for formatting the content so that it can be found, used, and digested. An important theme in KM is the active drive to turn implicit knowledge into explicit knowledge. Implicit knowledge is often called “know-how,” the things we know but we don’t know that we know them. This is also called “tacit” knowledge. These distinctions will be discussed later in the article.
- Categorizing and Classifying
- Organizing and Codifying
- Document Editing Control (single threaded edits and version control)
- Connecting People
- Cultural Support
- Encouraging capture of “know-how” (tacit knowledge)
- Encouraging people to share their knowledge
- Learning and capturing lessons learned
- Facilitating tools such as groupware
- Expertise locators
- Response teams and helpdesks
- Communities of Practice (CoP)
- Facilitating Teams
IBM has created a helpful representation of KM in a 2×2 matrix, with Content in the first column (“Collecting Stuff and Codification”) and People in the second. See Table 1.
Table 1. IBM’s Knowledge Management Graphic
Summary: Short Definition
Knowledge Management therefore entails disciplined, systemic approaches to improve:
- organizational effectiveness by leveraging knowledge
- decision-making to increase efficiency and enhance learning
KM uses methods to seek, use, and value knowledge by categorizing, organizing, sorting, storing, accessing, and sharing information to accomplish daily tasks.
KM in Practice
Many organizations have a concern that retiring employees will take many years of “know-how” with them when they leave. KM seeks to address this problem and puts in place knowledge capture programs, collaboration vehicles, and lessons learned meetings.
What is Enterprise Content Management (ECM)?
Enterprise Content Management is also a sub-discipline of Information Management. The Association for Information and Image Management (AIIM) defines ECM as follows:
Enterprise Content Management is the systematic collection and organization of information that is to be used by a designated audience – business executives, customers, etc. Neither a single technology nor a methodology nor a process, it is a dynamic combination of strategies, methods, and tools used to capture, manage, store, preserve, and deliver information, supporting key organizational processes through its entire lifecycle.
Knowledge Management can encompass some aspects of ECM. The disciplines overlap, as shown in Figure 2. Some of the topics of concern that are addressed in KM initiatives are also addressed in ECM, such as categorization. ECM seeks to create content assets that are easily found, enabling enterprise search, and the categorization of knowledge assets is also equally important to KM.
KM and ECM overlap to the extent that knowledge is encapsulated in content form. Knowledge contains the insights people derive from content, and this insight is often amorphous and not articulated. Therefore, the arrow in Figure 2 emphasizes the effort of KM is concerned with – the discovery of knowledge and transforming it into content to make accessible by others.
ECM covers a systematic approach to the management of an organization’s content in its various forms, e.g. documents, photos/pictures, multimedia, voice/audio, video, etc. The field of ECM concerns all the support structures required to manage content in the enterprise.
The rapid deployment of sensors, other data collection devices, and satellites creates new types of content. This technology is called the Internet of Things (IoT). It presents many new challenges in the management of information, mostly due to its overwhelming volume. Management of IoT data is not usually considered in the context of ECM, and merits its own category of information. IoT is beyond the scope of this article.
What is Document Management (DM)?
DM is regarded as a subset of ECM; it covers a systematic approach to the management of documents. Its discipline includes the process of redaction and version control, document access and permissions, workflow, metadata/categorization, and the protection of sensitive information and document handling rules such as protection of personally identifiable information (PII). Document Management encompasses both electronic and paper. It also includes document retention rules that vary based upon the classification of the document.
Dictionary.com defines a document as follows:
- A written or printed paper furnishing information or evidence, as a passport, deed, bill of sale, or bill of lading; a legal or official paper.
- Any written item, as a book, article, or letter, especially of a factual or informative nature.
- A computer data file.
Content Management is a wider category than Document Management, and includes other forms of content as described above, including data files, media files, pictures, etc.
Some documents are considered records. Here’s Cutter’s definition of Records Management:
Records management (RM) refers to technologies and processes used to store records (such as e-mail and digitized copies of paper documents) over time.
A record does not change, and is usually of legal, regulatory or other importance and is subject to special document handling rules. An Audit report, when finalized, becomes a Record. Special emphasis is placed upon retention and archiving. Records include all types of content, including emails. Document discovery is important to all types of information, but is of special concern for records, because they are often archived and can be quite old. Curation techniques are important to be able to have these documents available when required. Records can also include paper documents, as indicated above.
Figure 3 shows the relationship between ECM, DM and RM. It could be argued that all Records are Documents, but emails sometimes are not considered to be Documents.
The disciplines of DM and RM differ in emphasis. RM is concerned with preservation of records, due to the fact that they are not to be altered. Examples of records are contracts, legal documents, and documents containing signatures. Records are sometimes stored in paper format, and may also be stored as scanned images.
The Association of Records Managers and Administrators (ARMA) has published “Generally Accepted Principles for Records Management”, which can be found on their website at www.arma.org/principles. Most of these helpful principles can apply to information management in general and many of its related disciplines.
Document Management Considerations
Here are some things to consider when crafting a document management strategy:
- Increase the searchability/findability of documents by using techniques like tagging
- Do you need workflow and document control governing who can edit? Who can read?
- Use a Business Glossary to ensure terms are standardized so everyone knows what they mean
- Agree on a Taxonomy, which is a hierarchical classification structure that ensures good organization
- Use software that facilitates storage organization and enforces the taxonomy
- Is there a formalization process for documents? Do they become Records? If so, what are the rules that are followed?
- Are there specific protections that apply to certain types or classes of documents?
The Lifecycle of a Document
A document must be able to be found easily, and must be able to be edited by authorized individuals. A document becomes a Record when it is finalized. The lifecycle of a Document is shown in Figure 4.
Considerations for Document Search
- Business Glossary: Standardize terminology
- Taxonomy/Classification: Creates a hierarchy for document storage
- Standard Document Names
- Standardize on metadata capture for documents
- What metadata do you want to store for all documents? Is there optional metadata for different kinds of documents?
- Consider a system like the Dublin Core (http://dublincore.org/ )
- Use of a Content Management System, such as Share Point
- Ensures centralized management of content storage, easy access
- Ensures check in/check out, document control, single editor
- Can provide workflow
- Can assist in the capture of standard metadata, as described above
- Comments, capture business issues
- Can enable tagging documents with relevant topics to increase findability
RM in Practice
John has just become the manager of the Legal Affairs department. One of his concerns is how he is going to manage his many contracts and other legal documents that the firm has. He is concerned with legal document retention law requirements for the different classes of documents. In addition, he wants to maximize e-Discovery, which is concerned with finding information referenced within documents for legal research on cases as they arise. John is now learning all about RM to help him set policies for the proper management of these legal records.
DM in Practice
Ann has joined a brand new project team. The need for DM has surfaced because team members have started to accumulate a large amount of work products and they need a central place to store them so the they can easily be found by other team members. Everyone soon realizes that emailing the documents multiple times is very inefficient, not to mention the excessive use of data storage for redundant copies. Plus, it is very difficult to figure out which version of the document is the most current. The need is especially acute when there are multiple people contributing to the same document. DM tools can facilitate this and keep authors from collisions.
An organization often starts out with concentration on DM, as it creates its artifacts as a natural result of its work. Then, as the documents become formalized, signed, and delivered to external parties, RM comes into play, which highlights concerns about record curation, preservation, and retention.
ECM in Practice
Chuck has been performing research for his project and is looking for all the documents that have been published within the company on his specific subject area. The need for an enterprise ECM tool is highlighted when all the many projects within an organization are storing the same document in many different locations.
Management Areas of Emphasis
This article introduced two main areas of concentration for Knowledge Management: Content and People. Let’s revisit these themes, interpreting them as actionable areas of interest.
- Content: The storage, organization, and retrieval of data, information, and knowledge;
- People: Building into the culture of an organization activities, processes, and initiatives that incorporate knowledge discovery and dissemination.
These two emphases apply not just to KM but ECM and DM as well. Table 2 shows a matrix which may be helpful in determining the areas of potential emphasis for an enterprise considering a strategy for these disciplines. The degree of focus in any particular area can be determined by the needs of the organization.
|People||Authorization & permissions: share with as wide as allowable||Encouraged to share knowledge and rewarded|
|Process||* Procedures for authoring, tagging, categorizing, organizing and sharing document
* Processes for capturing tacit knowledge
* Search techniques
|* Creation of collaboration vehicles such as Communities of Practice, brainstorming sessions, lessons learned
* Build knowledge sharing into SoPs and the organization culture
|Technology||Technology that enables storage & search||* Wikis and groupware
|Data||* Business Glossary
* Standard categories and classifications
Data needs to be:
* Managed & Governed
|* Data & Knowledge Governance
* Data Stewards* SMEs/Experts
Table 2. Areas of Emphasis
Examples of content emphasis are:
- Business Glossary: standard terminology
- Taxonomy/Classification Schemes: Organization and rules
- Tagging: Searchability
KM distinguishes between two different kinds of knowledge: Explicit and Tacit.
- Explicit: Written down
- Tacit: Often called “know-how”
- In people’s heads; useful to the individual but not others
- Often the individual is not aware of the knowledge they have and is unable to articulate it
KM has strategies to enable people to uncover and write down what they know. KM places emphasis on the process of tacit knowledge capture, making it explicit.
In addition, KM has techniques to encourage people to network, collaborate, and share, such as
- Wikis, groupware
- Capturing Lessons Learn
Figure 5 shows Explicit and Tacit knowledge, and shows how explicit knowledge leads to tacit knowledge, which is then used as a learning enabler. Tacit knowledge often uses explicit knowledge as a Launchpad, which triggers discovery of tacit knowledge. Tacit knowledge applies explicit knowledge in unique ways, which stimulates learning and building of new knowledge.
Figure 5. Different types of Knowledge
Making Knowledge Useful
It is one thing to find information that you suspect will be helpful, and another thing to determine if indeed the information was useful. APQC (American Productivity & Quality Center), a member-based research organization specializing in knowledge management, has created a knowledge flow process (Figure 6) that graphically depicts the cycle that information must go through to become useful. Essentially, this is taking knowledge and using it in one’s daily job, but in addition learning from others, as demonstrated in Figure 5 above.
Figure 6. APQC’s Knowledge Flow Cycle
Measures can be employed to capture how useful knowledge and content is, and improvement can be tracked over time as KM efforts are put in place.
Knowledge Management Framework
A Knowledge Management Framework helps to:
- Collect and store critical information
- Identify critical information according to document type and relevance to the audit life cycle
- Protect documents based on document type and relevant rules
- Classify the information
- Increase its ability to be found by authorized individuals
- Promote and enable information sharing
- Ensure protection of information according to rules
- Permissions: edit, read
- Document retention rules
- Based on document type classification
A framework is a structure underlying a system or concept (Oxford Dictionary). A Knowledge Management Framework provides a guiding structure around the understanding, organizing, delivering, and disseminating of information that incorporates standard processes to use and maintain it over time.
APQC has published a Knowledge Management Framework. See Figure 7.
Figure 7. APQC’s Knowledge Management Framework
Implementation of the Framework
In order to implement the framework, a structure needs to be in place for its direction, management, and execution. This structure must include planning for the following, as itemized in Table 2:
The structure should have the usual components of any enterprise effort:
- Governance structure and people appointed
The KM effort can include or be adapted for Content or Document Management in its scope if so desired.
The framework above helps to focus on the business value of the KM effort. The first phase in the framework, “Call to Action,” helps to identify this business value and determine the scope and the areas of emphasis. The framework shown here is an example. An organization may want to create their own, oriented around its unique business goals.
Next Steps include:
- Determine a KM framework to follow and create a Charter, Vision, and Mission.
- Follow the Call to Action steps and aligning KM to business priorities.
- Develop KM, ECM and/or DM strategies, following the framework chosen.
Designing and implementing KM, ECM or DM Capabilities involves execution of the strategies, and includes lining up tools that will assist the efforts. This includes ECM tools like Share Point. It is important to not “put the cart before the horse” and decide on a KM or ECM tool until you understand the business need that it fills. This also involves setting up measures that help you track your success.
Governance: Governance is important to implement regardless of the areas of emphasis for an organization. Governance enables people, processes, and technology to work together to ensure information, knowledge, and content are managed appropriately. TDAN has many excellent, helpful articles to assist you in the establishment of governance.
 De Stricker, Ulla, ed. Knowledge Management Practice in Organizations: The View from Inside. IGI Global, 2014.
 Gartner quoted in International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions wiki, “What is Knowledge Management?” https://iflakm.wikispaces.com/What+is+Knowledge+Management%3F , originally from Duhon, Bryant. “It’s all in our Heads.” Inform 12.8 (1998): 8-13
 O’Dell. “Best Practices in Knowledge Management”, APQC’s MENA Knowledge Management Conference, 2015. APQC stands for American Productivity & Quality Center.
 Koenig, Michael E. D. “What is KM? Knowledge Management Explained”, KM World, May 4, 2012. This graphic was provided to the author by Tom Short of IBM. http://www.kmworld.com/Articles/Editorial/What-Is-…/What-is-KM-Knowledge-Management-Explained-82405.aspx
 Leibowitz, Jay. Knowledge Management Learning From Knowledge Engineering, CRC Press: Boca Raton, Florida, 2001.
 Davenport, Thomas H., and Laurence Prusak. Working Knowledge: How Organizations Manage What They Know, Harvard Business School Press, 1998.
 AIIM. “What is Enterprise Content Management?” http://www.aiim.org/What-is-ECM-Enterprise-Content-Management.aspx#
 Seth Gottleib. “From Enterprise Content Management to Effective Content Management”. Cutter IT Journal, Vol 18 Number 5.
 APQC. “The Three C’s of KM Strategy: Connect, Collect & Collaborate: An APQC Perspective on the United States Army Corps of Engineers.” APQC Knowledge Base: September 22, 2016. https://www.apqc.org/knowledge-base/documents/three-cs-km-strategy-collect-connect-and-collaborate-slides, slide 22
 APQC. “Defining a Value Proposition and Business Case for Your KM Program”. APQC Knowledge Base: https://www.apqc.org/knowledge-base/documents/defining-value-proposition-and-business-case-your-km-program, page 5.