News from the trenches

The last posts from last year where about using and reusing (project) knowledge.
I want to start this year with a more practical post about how we do this currently.
One of my (personal) objectives of last year was to improve the use of collaborative project work spaces.
The target audience for this are our technical innovation and development departments.
These groups already have the habit of using a project work space for big projects, but the local drive was the big favorite.  Creating a Technical Report at the end of a project is also standard (for most of the projects to be honest).  This report is highly technical, written by development engineers, for development engineers.
The management of these highly valued reports from the past and in the future was also an item to be covered.

We have the technology in place.  Our collaborative platform allows for the easy creation of dedicated work spaces for a project, with delegated access right management, document repositories, forums, and an integrated search function.
People have been trained on how to use these tools.  Several info sessions have been organized, training material is available in several formats, …
The only thing remaining was that they actually started using it in the day to day live.
It took me some dedicated sessions to convince and demonstate how it will work in practice, but as of the beginning of this year there is a consensus on how to use these tools from now on.
A simple process was set up and approved. 

For each project a dedicated work space is set up.  This consists of an area for the project team and an area with wider read access where the technical reports can be published.
Once the project is finalised, all information is archived and the access rights are opened to a larger audience (customised to the project).
Using customised searches, the engineers can now look for :
 – archived or current project info
 – all project information or technical reports only
 – all combinations of these
This process is now included in the regular project management process, without creating extra work.
Sounds simple, but the mental shift from ‘This is something that looks good and that we can do’ to ‘This is our normal way of working since it is the only thing which makes sense’ is a big step.
Next is to get a formal knowledge reuse step included in the project start up phase.

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