Key Elements of Agency-Wide KM

A Holistic, Agency-Wide Approach

This Guide emphasizes an agency-wide approach to KM that is driven by a strategic view, and draws on a wide variety of available KM techniques. An agency-wide approach to KM makes sure that:

Some organizations view KM as primarily a staff development or succession planning activity that is within the purview of the Human Resources (HR) unit. For others, KM is synonymous with content management or business intelligence. They view KM as a function of the Information Technology (IT) unit – or perhaps as a library reference desk responsibility. These more narrow views of KM are not incorrect. However, organizations that pigeonhole KM as a single-dimensional function within a training or IT unit make two mistakes:
Mistake #1: not taking a strategic view of KM and
Mistake #2: only having a single tool in the KM toolbox.

What Does an Agency-Wide KM Approach Look Like?

An agency-wide approach to KM ideally includes the following four elements:

  1. Leadership & Direction. Agency leadership makes the connection between KM and critical business goals. They show clear support for KM, designate a KM lead, articulate what outcomes they expect, and provide resources needed to accomplish these outcomes. They request regular updates on status and achievements.
  2. Collaboration & Communities. The organization fosters a culture of collaboration and provides its employees with both online and face to face opportunities for knowledge sharing, mentoring and problem solving. Newer employees are able to quickly identify who to talk to when they have questions, and they are encouraged to learn from colleagues.
  3. Knowledge Codification & Dissemination. Mission-critical, unique and at-risk knowledge is proactively identified and either documented and made available online, or transferred from person to person as appropriate. Standard operating procedures are put in place to capture lessons learned from completed activities and fully leverage the organization’s base of prior experience as new activities are undertaken.
  4. Succession & Talent Management. Human Resources and Training functions work together with the management team to identify emerging workforce knowledge gaps and risks. They pursue a coherent and synergistic approach to addressing these gaps and risks through recruiting, employee onboarding (steps to orient new employees and help them adjust to the organization), training, and succession management activities. In addition, information about the skills and training of individual employees is made available to enable the organization to make best possible use of the available talent.

Where Do We Start?

The next section of this Guide takes you through a four-step process for implementing KM. This section can be used to identify specific areas where KM would benefit your organization, develop an initial implementation strategy, identify which specific techniques are suitable, and set up a process for monitoring results.

A holistic, agency-wide approach to knowledge management ensures that the right combination of techniques is applied to tackle an agency’s most pressing needs.

KM at Virginia DOT

In 2003, VDOT began using proven KM techniques to maximize effective management and delivery of 15 mega-projects, with a total construction value of approximately $7-$8 billion. VDOT reasoned that even small improvements in these projects could have substantial payoffs.
These early KM efforts were well-received by agency staff and gained senior management support. Over 10 years later, VDOT has expanded use of KM agency-wide and has become a national KM leader in the DOT community.

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