STEP 3: Create a KM Implementation Plan

Why Develop a KM Implementation Plan?

The KM Strategy defines the goals for KM, outlines the types of initiatives that the agency wants to pursue, and designates a lead person to move it forward. A KM Implementation Plan provides more detail on how the strategy will be carried out. It provides an opportunity to identify specific activities, make sure that the right people are involved, and ensure that the necessary resources are made available to maximize their effectiveness.

How to Develop a KM Implementation Plan

The following steps can be followed to develop a KM implementation plan:

  1. Identify KM activities to carry out the strategy.
  2. Identify metrics and evaluation methods.
  3. Develop a detailed plan for first set of initiatives.
  4. Develop a communication plan to build and sustain awareness and engagement.
  5. Identify resource needs: personnel, IT infrastructure, consultant support, etc.
  6. Develop a budget.
  7. Establish a schedule of milestones.
  8. Set up periodic review and reporting cycles to track milestone completion and metrics.

Additional guidance for identifying and planning appropriate KM techniques is provided below. See the next section (Step 4) for guidance on defining metrics for KM.

KM Techniques

Capsule summaries of KM techniques that can be considered for implementation are provided below, organized by strategy type.

KM Leadership & Direction

Applicability: Agencies wanting to pursue a holistic KM approach.

Expected Results: Identify and address the agency’s priority risks and needs; target KM activities where they will have the greatest payoff.

Implementation Tip: Designating a KM lead is essential for making progress, but educating and involving a larger set of individuals in planning and implementation will ensure that KM takes root in the organization and has sustained impact.


Table 2. Wisconsin DOT KM Tools Matrix

Topic and Tasks

Brief Description

Might be Good for…


Documenting Processes

Writing down processes

Incumbent writes down steps in key tasks.

Stable, routine tasks; quick reference


Videotaping processes

Incumbent is videotaped performing key tasks.

Quick capture; including context


Formalizing process

Formalizing process

Manually require steps be completed in certain way.

More complex tasks


Automating process

Automation requires steps be completed in certain way.

Highly complex tasks with many players


Expert decision system

Incorporates expert judgment. Provides decision.

Complex decisions that can be modeled


Experiencing together

Double filling key positions

New employee and retiring employee work together.

Critical positions with sole complex knowledge


Cross training

Train employees to do a range of overlapping work.

Positions with sole knowledge


Communities of practice

Employees with similar work regularly communicate.

Positions scattered throughout agency


Sharing experience

Exit interviews

HR or supervisor asks questions of departing employee.

All departing employees


Expert interviews

Interviewer asks questions of knowledgeable employee.

Employees with extensive specific knowledge.


Last lectures

Departing employee gives open-ended talk.

Departing employees with extensive tacit knowledge.



Current employees share stories of challenges faced.

Current employees with extensive tacit knowledge.


Developing leaders

Rotation program

Selected employees work in one or more new areas.

Employees showing leadership promise.


Leadership program

Selected employees receive agency exposure.

Employees showing leadership promise.


Source: Wisconsin DOT

Social Learning & Communities

Applicability: Agencies wanting to shift the culture of their organizations to foster innovation, collaboration and group problem solving.

Expected Results: Increased innovation, faster ramp-up time for new employees, less chance of “rookie mistakes,” improved organizational resilience, improved employee retention, less dependence on any single individual.

Implementation Tip: Collaboration and social networking tools have value, but face-to-face interaction is also essential for building the kinds of trust relationships required for productive collaboration.


Knowledge Codification & Dissemination

Applicability: Agencies wanting to ensure that all employees have ready access to documentation about the “who, what, how, when and why” of key business processes. Codification and dissemination activities focus on the kind of knowledge that lends itself to capture and documentation – such as procedural knowledge, key lessons and past events.

Expected Results: Improved consistency of practice across the agency, lower chance of employees “reinventing the wheel,” greater awareness across the agency of effective techniques (or costly mistakes).

Implementation Tips: It is best to be selective about what is captured, and make sure that the effort required will have sufficient payoff in the future. Information products should be designed to facilitate future use (e.g., checklists, presentation slides) and opportunities for using them should be actively pursued.


Succession & Talent Management

Applicability: Agencies looking to lessen the impacts of employee departures – targeting certain critical positions (e.g., a senior engineer within one year of retirement); or addressing more general needs (e.g., growing the next generation of leaders).

Expected Results: Smoother transitions as employees retire or transition to new jobs; improved availability of employees with skills to take on challenging technical or leadership positions.

Implementation Tip: It is best to be proactive about succession and talent management – don’t wait until key employees announce their retirement to take action.


Defining Roles and Responsibilities for KM Implementation

Roles and responsibilities for implementation will depend on the scope of planned KM activities. Some agencies may choose to focus their KM efforts on succession management, and have the HR department take the lead. Others may focus on capturing lessons learned as part of major projects, and have the Project Management Office lead. Agencies interested in potentially pursuing the full range of KM strategies will want to appoint a single individual (or small team) to handle the KM leadership and strategy activities. This individual or team can then initiate some KM techniques and play a support role on others. Table 3 illustrates what a logical mix of responsibilities might be, indicating lead or support involvement for the KM lead, HR, IT, Research/Library, and managers of major divisions and their constituent business units.

Table 3. Responsibility Chart for KM Elements

Agency-Wide KM Elements

KM Lead

Human Resources


Research Library

Division Office Manager

KM Leadership & Direction

Strategic Planning & Policy Development

KM Education/Training

Knowledge Assessment

Knowledge Mapping/Social Network Analysis

KM Metrics

Social Learning & Communities

Communities of Practice

Peer Review

After Action Review

Social Networking and Collaboration Platforms

Expertise Locator/Smart Org Charts

Recognition and Reward for Collaboration

Knowledge Codification & Dissemination

Lessons Learned Repository

Organizational Narratives/Storytelling

Knowledge Books/Continuity Books

Business Process Documentation/Automation

Contractor Knowledge Transfer

Content Management/Portals/Wikis

Common Vocabulary/Content Classification

Personalization/Role-Based Subscriptions

Succession & Talent Management

Talent Tracking

Desk-side Reviews

Mentoring, Shadowing and Job Rotation

Phased Retirements

Leadership Training

Key: Lead Role Support Role

Additional Implementation Advice

Some additional tips to ensure successful KM implementation are:

Building a Sustainable KM Program

One DOT tried to develop a KM strategy in conjunction with a quality initiative. KM pilots were launched with promising results. Unfortunately, even though there were good intentions, it was difficult to get traction because staff and management felt that they were already overburdened and couldn’t take on any new activities. Then, the executive champion for KM left the agency, and KM activities were discontinued. This program suffered from having a single point of failure. Building more broad-based buy-in at the start could have enabled the initiative to persist through a change in leadership. One strategy is to have “Knowledge Stewards” in each of the main business units who have the recognition of their peers so that they can then spearhead and infuse KM efforts in their respective units.

KM at Wisconsin DOT

Wisconsin DOT developed a useful matrix that provides additional guidance on when to consider various KM techniques, and the approximate level of effort required. This matrix is included as Table 2 on the next page. WisDOT also produced a KM Guide emphasizing simple, low-cost techniques. See reference 10.

Recognize that interpersonal trust and respect is a prerequisite for knowledge sharing. Allow time for face to face communication and relationship building. Encourage learning and knowledge sharing behaviors through the agency’s recognition and reward system. Consider including learning and knowledge sharing proficiencies as part of the employee’s annual performance review.

Knowledge Books at Kraft Foods

Kraft Foods has developed a series of “Knowledge Books” to capture and retain specialized knowledge held by individuals with unique expertise – such as formulation of concentrated dairy products. These knowledge books are created through application of a standard methodology called MASK (Method for Analyzing and Structuring Knowledge). They focus on explaining why things are done a certain way and are rich with commentary and examples. See reference 1.

Captured knowledge has no value if it is not used. Any knowledge capture activities should be accompanied by specific strategies for ensuring that the organization benefits.

Don’t wait until employees are close to retirement to begin succession management and knowledge capture activities. Knowledge retention should start from day 1 of the employee’s tenure.

Lessons Learned:Mentoring

One DOT established a mentorship program. The goal was to capture the expertise and field knowledge of long-time employees, and to pass this knowledge on to the next generation. This initiative enjoyed strong top management support. However, the program had mixed success, and the agency learned some valuable lessons about what it takes to make a mentoring program work. More careful implementation planning and oversight would have ensured a greater level of success and sustainability.

Previous Chapter

Next Chapter