By Seth Cargiuolo
Chief Knowledge Officer
The Saint Consulting Group
Every development project, regardless of size or industry, has one thing in common — a myriad of moving pieces. Plans, elevations, marketing collateral, zoning applications, contracts, and an outreach or public relations plan are just some of those pieces, and they’re all managed by different players from different disciplines, all with different areas of expertise.
One key to a successful project is to make sure you have a strategy for the management of all that information and expertise during the development process.
Here are three tips for designing a knowledge management structure for your project, based on the knowledge management systems we use at Saint Consulting, for both firm-wide and individual projects:
Create a centralized home for all of your knowledge
The key to managing knowledge is to ensure that your team members can easily get the information they need, when they need it. An online “warehouse” for all of your key documents with secure access for all of your team members is a must. All essential data — plans, documents, reports, contact lists, and the like — should live in this space. This eliminates the need for long email chains and the passing of a document from one person to another and having your team wonder which member has the most recent version. There a number of solutions on the market to meet this need, ranging from pricey custom designed enterprise software (like Sage CRE) all the way down to free (like Google Docs). Some services allow collaborative editing and all kinds of other bells and whistles while others allow only storage, but the real value lies in everyone knowing exactly where all the data lives and being able to access it. No matter the size of your team or project, the centralization of all your knowledge is essential.
Assign a knowledge “point person”
Now that you’ve created a place for information and knowledge to live and flow through, you need to make sure you’ve got a point person to facilitate the use of it. This person is responsible for making sure that team members have access to the warehouse, know how to navigate it, and can help people not only find what they need but also add information and knowledge. In a smaller team, the point person may be the project manager; in a larger team it may be wiser to assign the position to another person on the team who can focus a significant amount of energy on enabling and assisting their teammates. For really large development teams, it may be profitable to assign one person from each different firm involved to a knowledge team that can be the point person’s go-to guy (or gal) for information needs within that organization for the duration of the project.
Keep it simple
At the end of the day, your goal is to get the project built! Knowledge Management is an essential part of the process, but don’t let it overtake you. There are tons of articles and books and software tools that can help you learn about and implement a “KM” solution, but there’s no need to run out and spend tons of money on a solution that might only weigh you down. The most important thing is to make sure that people have access to the information they need, can easily find the right person to talk to when they have a need for specific knowledge or expertise, and can easily add their own knowledge and expertise to the mix.
Seth Cargiuolo loves to talk about knowledge, information, and the management thereof. If you’d like to learn more about how Saint Consulting uses knowledge, or just shoot the breeze about KM in general, you can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org .