7 questions to evaluate your knowledge sharing project
, Gregory Culpin
Several factors come into play to guarantee a successful project start: the context in which the future platform will be set, stakeholders alignment, the knowledge sharing maturity level of the organization.
When setting up a collaborative platform, a needs and fears analysis of your organization will avoid developing usages that do not address challenges faced by your teams. Very quickly, the common goal you share with your Customer Success teams will be to centralize your efforts in order to create maximum added value and increase strong adoption likelihood right from the start.
After several years of experience in setting up collaborative platforms, we noticed the extent to which understanding the context at the beginning of the project is critical to successful implementation. A platform launch will unfold at best when this understanding is mutually shared between your internal project team members and your Customer Success team. In the case of our knowledge sharing projects, we must pay attention to many context elements such as organizational structure, mindset and culture, work habits, project sponsors, confidentiality requirements and IT governance.
For example, if consultants or business developers spend most of their days at customers or on the road and that they take a tremendous amount of time to find appropriate knowledge and key reference documents, this aspect will definitely need to be taken into account when designing information access paths and the communication campaign. In another case, there might have experimented failures of other platforms through misaligned implementations or lack of support, so a deep understanding of the causes will prevent repeating those mistakes and might address them in the communication plan.
Another regular challenge is the lack of alignment between pre-sales teams and project teams in charge of an implementation. In addition, initial project requirements and organisational context are often interpreted and captured by the pre-sales team or by a third-party; not by key stakeholders. Several months can also pass between your platform selection process and the project's start and platform preparation by the project team. A lack of alignment can then lead to a slower setup, tensions between project team members, and ultimately to a platform that does not address the key needs nor meet the expectancies of the stakeholders. For example, a project team can see Knowledge Plaza as a perfect service to replace an ageing document management system. However, their leadership sees an opportunity to induce more collaborative behaviors and innovation. Finally, IT is looking for an integrated solution that fits in the wider picture of its infrastructure. In this case, a full alignment of all parties on the deployment strategy is critical to ensure success.
Knowledge sharing maturity level
Considering the knowledge sharing maturity level of your collaborators is also key prior to setting up such a service. Take time to carry out the following research before your project launch: evaluate information flow patterns between the different parts of the organization, draw a panorama of the existing technological tools used and develop a detailed understanding of the needs, usages and objectives. Indeed, the more your evaluation is detailed and matches reality, the more successful your project will be.
For example, if there are many discussions between the marketing department and the sales department but they do not have a centralized location to exchange ideas, emails can not harness information and time is lost looking for specific knowledge, this scenario will bring value to the project and help the targeted functions.
Our Customer Success team's mission is helping your project team build a platform/service that corresponds to your key needs and to exploit its full potential. We imagined a questionnaire allowing project managers to help them ask themselves the right questions and to structure their thoughts. This 20 questions questionnaire is generally sent a couple of weeks before our first meeting. With it, your project team will be able to:
- take the time to summarize and formalize the project and its context
- ask the right questions to the people most likely to be able to answer them
- be aligned on the situation diagnostic, key needs and objectives
- produce a formalized document with all the project base elements that will facilitate leadership buy-in
- dive into the project faster during our first meeting; make our future sessions more efficient.
Obviously, a questionnaire is not able to explicit all the subtleties and difficulties that might arise during a project. It is then followed by a kick-off meeting that digs deeper in some of the answers and further the thinking through specific tools and exercises.
7 questions to evaluate your organisation
Are you ready to set up a knowledge sharing platform? Find out with the first 7 questions of the questionnaire:
- Which needs will be addressed by the platform?
- What is the felt priority on those needs by employees and management?
- Can you describe a minimum of 5 knowledge sharing scenarios this platform must address?
- What are the short, middle and long term objectives of the project
- How does your future platform fit with existing solutions? How do you imagine your new platform complement or replace existing technologies in the current IT landscape?
- What are the incoming, internal and outgoing information sources that are necessary for the key scenarios?
- Which target groups are affected by, produce and use these sources on a daily basis?
If it was easy for you to answer those questions and formalize your answers, you are on the right path in your collaborative journey, don't hesitate to come and talk with us !
On the other hand, if it was difficult to come up with those answers, we created a workshop tool that can help you understand your usage patterns and map your information flows. To know more, read the Knowledge Sharing Canvas.