Knowledge Management Cases in Asia/Implementation of Knowledge Management in Asia's Beverage Industry/Findings and Analysis of the Company B Case Study

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Certainly, there is no perfect system that can tackle all of the problems occurred. After analyzing the case, we would like to point out some possible advantages and disadvantages of the KM tools and the KM strategies used or going to be used in the project.

KM Tools[edit | edit source]

In this project, Learning Management System (LMS) is used to capture data and those data will be used to analyzed then transformed to knowledge. In addition, for some highly confidential information such as details of the products or customers’ information, Company B will internally design a sub-system to store that kinds of information that will match with the LMS that is developed by Consultant A.

Advantages[edit | edit source]

  1. Tailor-made Information

    One of the Company B’s requirements is to provide tailor-made information, such as the performance of staff on practicing virtual scenarios or actual skills they acquired from training courses. Thus, the LMS system is developed that can provide very detailed information for the company to check staff’s performance, skills as well as their competences. Unlike those systems brought from vendors, LMS can capture more detailed information and tacit knowledge can be captured or created after analyzing those detailed information that may be ignored by vendors’ systems.

    Moreover, staff’s information like ranks’ competences, qualification can be also tracked as well. It is very useful when considering preferment.

    Since the system is developed specially for Company B, it is suitable for the beverage industry that not vendors’ system can provide.

  2. Secured Information

    To ensure security of highly confidential information, Company B decided to internally design a sub-system. Information likes customers’ information, financial information, or details of products are unlikely to be disclosed carelessly.

Disadvantages[edit | edit source]

  1. Require More Budget

    Because the system is not brought from vendors, extra resources are needed to develop the customized system. The cost is not only the money used to develop a system from the beginning but also labour force to develop it.

    In addition, since the huge amount of data is kept in the LMS, lots of manpower as well as money are needed to maintain the system.

  2. Require More Time

    Same as the cost, to develop a new system that is customized to the company, more time is needed to achieve it. Also, requirements are needed to be well-defined at the begining of the whole project since things may different even there is only a little change, especially after the programming stage.

  3. Affect Compatibility

    The LMS developed by Consultancy A will combine with the sub-system designed by Company B, and that may have a risk that the two systems may not compatible. It is a serious problem that should be clearly defined before designing the system. Otherwise, delay of the project cannot be avoided, and that means an extra time and cost required.

    To avoid it, adequate communication between project teams is very important. Moreover, all of the standards used to build the systems should be documented to ensure the compatibility of the two systems.

  4. Affect System Performance

    Since the information is so tailor-made and details, the amount of information stored in LMS may be so large that the speed of the system may be sacrificed. Besides the speed of loading data, retrieval of data may be affected as well. When building such kinds of system, project team should aware of them.

    Regularly upgrade the system is a good way to maintain an effective and efficient system. Furthermore, classification system can be used to classify different topics posted by users. That can strengthen the power of search engines too.

KM Strategies[edit | edit source]

Without suitable KM strategies to embed KM process in staff's working process, excellent KM tools can mean nothing. To foster usage and popularity of the e-learning portal developed for the Company B's KM project, Consultancy A has designed a set of KM strategies to present the knowledge captured in the way that can suit different user groups. The KM strategies they used are Community of Practice (CoP), Question Pool and Virtual Scenario.

Here, we will discuss the possible advantages and disadvantages on applying those KM strategies.

Advantages[edit | edit source]

Through embedding KM process into working process, KM strategies encourage users to share (upload) and get (retrieve) information from the e-learning portal interactively. The word-of-mouth marketing strategy helps to create and sustain the loop of knowledge sharing and increase the interaction between users in order to capture data about their activities on the portal.

  1. Community of Practice (CoP)
    More Interactive

    CoP provides a common and multidirectional communication channel for users to share information, which encourages users who have the same interest (e.g. trainers and learners) or similar knowledge background (e.g. learners and learners) to interact with each other. Besides helping users to share information vertically and horizontally, the swap of information will become smooth and frequent once the users' sharing behaviour is cultivated.

    More Accurate

    Since the trainers and learners are divided into groups according to their department and position, therefore, they only own the right to access the information related to their jobs and duties. The systemic arrange of information (e.g. by trainer, subject or topic) also helps preventing information redundance. Consequently, it maintains the level of information accuracy in storage as well as retrieval.

    More Accessible

    The system provides search engine that helps in organizing information and providing file search function. This makes the information becomes more accessible to users.

  2. Question Pool
    Encourage Sharing

    Question Pool stores staff, especially trainers' knowledge on setting questions. It encourages staff to share, as a result to expand the question pool. The information, such as learners' results on particular questions, are collected and stored for future reference, for example to examine learner’s performance.

    Since staff is required to upload questions or other information related to the questions in order to get more questions uploaded by others, it motivates staff to interact and share their knowledge with others in order to create a positive working environment.

    Help Capture Tacit Knowledge

    Question Pool is a useful method to capture user’s tacit knowledge. Through collecting their question and the ideas or rationale behind, it can effectively capture the tacit knowledge of the staff. That's is very crucial when training new trainers. The tacit knowledge can be kept in Company B and that is the spirit of implementing every KM project.

  3. Virtual Scenario
    In Users' Views
    1. Practices make Perfect

      Virtual senario provides users a safe environment to experience actual scenario. Staff who always make the same mistake in actual situation can repeat the same scenario in a virtual environment, in order to improve their actual performance. On the other hand, it is especially helpful to newcomers who do not have such pervious experiences, and then they can experience the virtual one before coming to the actual one.

      Through repeatedly practicing, users can realise their mistakes and later handle similar cases more confidently. This can bring them satisfatroy as well.

    2. Attractive Animations

      Since those virtual scenarios are presented in animated graphics, it is very interactive and attractive to different levels of users. Using this kind of visual aids can stimulate them in memorising the working procedures, sales techiques or regulations of the company effectively.

      Besides, the keep on changing of scenarios make the tasks become more attractive and interesting. This can let staff check if there are any updated scenarios regularly and increase talking point among staff.

    3. Access Anywhere Anytime

      There is no restriction on time and location on accessing the e-learning portal. Therefore, users can flexibly arranges their time to visit and use it in their own pase.

    In Management's Views
    1. Save Time And Cost

      From the management’s point of view, virtual scenario can save time, cost and even human resources on staff training since all the training lessons can be operated on the portal.

    2. Capture Tacit Knowledge Easily

      It is a useful method to capture user’s tacit knowledge since data on staff's answers and other information like time used can be collected. Through analysizing those data, managment can have a vivid image on the staff's strenghens and weaknesses that help in assigning tasks to the most suitable staff. Suitable training emphasis can be identified as well.

    3. Capture Users' Behaviours

      It is easy to capture data about user’s activities on the portal as well as their behaviours, such as time they access or duration. This kind of data helps management to understand staff's attitude on self-learning, and also provides an invaluable information sources for system improvement and future development.

    4. Increase Usage of the E-Learning Portal

      The keep on changing of scenario helps to maintain users’ interests to the practice scenarios and the system usage can be increased. The larger sample of use, users from different grade, section and department, helps to increase the accuracy of the statistical analysis.

    5. Promote Company's Goodwill

      Staff’s performance is improved and the company’s goodwill is promoted consequently. It is the benefits other than profits.

Disadvantages[edit | edit source]

It seems that the KM strategies bring a wide variety of benefits to the KM system. However, there are still some possible disadvantages. ‘People’ is the main cause of the possible obstacles. Some people may resist in using the KM system, or new technology, due to a lack of computer literacy or experiences in using the KM system; some people may be too traditional that they treat their knowledge and experience as their secrets, especially in Aisan countries. They are not willing to share since they want to keep these secrets and develop them to be their own competitive advantages. These are just the common obstacles that no matter which strategy is used in most of KM projects, the following will then introduce the possible disadvantages that are specific to the KM strategies used in Company B's project.

  1. Community of Practice (CoP)
    Difficult To Manage

    It is difficult to be well-managed in the CoP because knowledge are easily duplicated while using CoP even there is a search engine. Ease of sharing knowledge in the CoP could be a convenience to users, but it can also be the inconvenience to users and the people who manage the CoP. It is because most of the users tend to share knowledge without searching whether the knowledge is already in the CoP. Duplication of knowledge will hence be occurred. The size of the CoP will be very large and the people who are responsible to manage the CoP will need more time and effort to tidy up the CoP.

    Reluctant To Share

    Most of the users lack concepts of KM. Some users may treat the process of sharing as a mandatory rule but not a helpful custom. They share the knowledge just because they are forced by the top management rather than they are willing to do so. Eventually, they will be reluctant to share knowledge with the CoP and do it perfunctorily, the concepts of KM and sharing culture will be more difficult to build up among users.

  2. Question Pool
    Repeated Questions

    The questions may be repeated in the pool. Some trainers may not check whether the questions are already existed in the pool before posting up their questions since their intention is to get new questions from the pool.

  3. Virtual Scenario
    Many Resources Needed

    The Virtual Scenario is needed to be updated frequently to increase the degree of entertainment and the degree of usefulness so as to attract more staff to use it for learning. If the scenario is interesting, practical and useful, users may enjoy it and then recommend to their colleagues, that is the power of word of mouth. However, in order to regularly update Virtual Scenarios, many resources such as labour force and time are needed. Besides, the size of the system will be increased since the number of scenarios is just increased continuously by updating the Virtual Scenario.

    Less Possibilities On Answers

    It cannot provide all the possibilities for the learners to choose since they are all multiple choice questions. This obstacle is commonly found in the cases that are related to the communication with customers such as sales. In some cases, the learners may feel difficult to choose the answer from the possibilities provided because their actual responses to the cases are not the same as any of the possibilities. Sometimes, their responses are also acceptable, but they haven’t been captured as any possibilities of the scenario.

    Moreover, different people may have different responses to the same scenario; at the same time, customers may have different feedbacks to different responses. It is nearly impossible to capture all the responses and feedbacks since there are many variations of them.

    Difficulties in Suiting Everyone's Learning Style

    Different people may have different learning practices. Some people may like virtual scenario, a kind of visual stimulation, but some people may prefer to the real training. The outcomes will be greater if choosing the most suitable learning practices for the learners.