Tom Short’s suggestion to capture context by linking knowledge artifacts to specific processes or tasks and features within existing processes is relevant and realistic. For Chevron, this turned out to be with a Q&A process.
A typical example was our refinery KM site. After a large merger, we needed to connect over 2000 refinery engineers and operators to our best practices to ensure high quality global operations. The best practice library was very comprehensive, but difficult for the new engineers to navigate due to their different backgrounds.
We designed a Q&A tool using refinery process and equipment terms (the metadata) which were familiar to all the new engineers. One of the pre-launch steps asked each engineer to complete a profile by selecting items from the two lists that they knew something about. If time was of the essence, the engineer facing a problem could find someone to call for quick help.
When an engineer ran into a plant problem, he or she just posted a question and selected relevant metadata. Emails were sent to engineers whose profile had matching metadata. Often the engineer received multiple suggestions in a few days. We asked the engineer to “close the loop” by documenting the actual solution and estimating the value to their refinery in terms of cost and/or time savings.
We documented an average of $10-20 million/year in business value savings.
The new knowledge, which included the problem, relevant metadata, suggested solutions and the actual solution employed was easily and quickly tagged and available for future problems. Even answers that didn’t fit the original problem could easily apply to another problem in the future. Thus, you may not want to discard it.
Most of today’s KM technology tools don’t offer this capability. We did this with Lotus Notes back in the day. Fortunately, I have discovered that it is possible to build the same capabilities in SharePoint.