This is Part 2 of my interview with Sophie Kain (director of Prior Kain Ltd), in honor of Ada Lovelace Day. Did you miss the first part? It’s here.
Programme managers face one of the greatest challenges (well, me), when their team is transient over the course of the work cycle. This is especially true when a program spans several years and many key members leave. What knowledge management solutions can help?
This is an interesting question. I have been fortunate (or I would like it to be sufficiently inspiring) that I have never had key members of a project team leave. Knowledge management and information management are essential for any project’s future. Prior Kain actually creates tailored solutions for these problems because no two problems are the same. I believe we still live in a world that is difficult to find or remember where our information is located. There are also many “solutions” available, but they are often complicated and time-consuming. We believe that with the right thinking, we can make it easier to find the right information without repeating work and have sufficient visibility into what other team members are doing.
Prior Kain Ltd’s primary motivation for focusing on information handling/knowledge management was because we have personally experienced the same problem. I believe we all have seen the problem: a business developer who leaves and takes the personal relationships with their clients, to a key technology person who takes the implicit knowledge that is crucial to the project. I think most organisations do not handle this well or at best inadequately.
However, it is not possible to require everyone to share everything. It is simply not human nature to want others to share what you perceive as your source of value or power. KM systems must be discreet and capture the intangible aspects – social dynamics, casual observation, personal relationships with customers – that are relevant to the project. It is not enough to archive all documents in a ‘Shared Work Environment’. KM must capture the ebbs and flows of the project. This includes emails, news snippets, data from the CRM system, and so forth. To be truly effective in KM, however, all material within a KM solution must also be intuitively searchable so that it can be presented in the most useful way for the user performing the search.
This sounds difficult to do in practice. What role does a digital conference room play in managing project teams across borders or time zones?
This depends on the project. How tech-savvy and comfortable they are using this medium for document sharing, blogging, and conversations. The younger generation of technologists seem to prefer this medium to talking, but those who are more traditional take a lot more convincing to use it. We have actually created software that can wrap any real-world conference with a digital space that focuses on the delegate. The software allows delegates to be members of one or more real world conferences. This allows for information sharing and interaction with like minds from different companies and geographies. This software is not about project management, but rather about maintaining and inspiring conversations after real world conferences end.
I believe digital conference spaces will become more popular as the world shifts towards virtual teaming for projects. The project will allow the team to grow.