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I am a founder of a start-up which has been taking shaping in the past year. In this time our team has conducted a substantial amount of research, planning and other work which resulted in a collection of a large amount of information in various shapes and forms (everything from Word documents to videos through Google Docs and PDFs of articles, spreadsheets and diagrams, etc. etc.)

A while ago we have recognised a need for a cohesive knowledge management system to cope with the growing amount of information and to be able to retain the usability of existing information. We had a number of brain-storming and planning sessions on how to try and organise our knowledge and had some initial success. However, we lack conceptual knowledge of established framework or pattern for creating a KM system (if there are such out there).

There are two aspect to this in my opinion:

  • Structure and organisation of the KMS
  • Process of including all existing knowledge into the newly established KMS

First is pretty self-explanatory while I'll clarify the second. It is fairly easy to follow a process once it is established, e.g. you come across a new article of interest and you "file" it according yo established system. On the other hand, the task of appropriately "filing" thousands of documents from a variety of formats/systems while your overall KM structure is still forming seems like an impossible task.

To summarise (the actual question in two parts):

  1. Are there established frameworks or patterns for setting up a knowledge management system? (this is not a technology but a conceptual question - I am not interested in software recommendations here)
  2. Once the framework is chosen, what is the approach to processing thousands of pieces of knowledge in various formats and media into the new system which is efficient, consistent and not deadly painful?

To end: I am aware of this question and believe that this one is substantially different (i.e. conceptual not technical)

P.S. I also think this is a fringe question when it comes to productivity and if somebody can suggest a better SE site for it I'd be happy to relocate :)

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could be considered information organization/theory at cstheory.stackexchange.com –  prusswan Feb 13 '12 at 17:24
    
Do you mean something like Ikujiro Nonaka - amazon.de/… –  hellectronic Feb 14 '12 at 18:43
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If you are dealing with discrete, offline files in large volume then it may not be a great choice without some manual tweaking and you may not have the time to do that, but have you investigated the various wiki tools that are available both as web services and as private manual installations? IF you have, and have rejected using wikis, could you mention what aspects of the wiki fall short for your needs? –  asfallows May 4 '12 at 17:21
    
This is an interesting question, does the OP have an update on what you ended up doing, 2 years later? –  Raystafarian Mar 21 at 13:03
    
@Raystafarian it is still a struggle to implement a cohesive system, unfortunately. –  Dmitry Selitskiy Mar 25 at 22:27
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3 Answers

So this is kind of an answer that challenges the premise of the question, but I hope you're happy with it as an answer rather than a comment.

So I'm a researcher, and of course the point of a lot of the stuff I do is to build knowledge bases in some sense. The traditional way for this stuff to be utilised is to write it down for publication, either internal or external. And the wonderful thing about rewriting up the knowledge as reports is that it reveals the gaps in the knowledge/experimentation very quickly, so you find yourself going back and expanding on work and finishing it off properly. This is as opposed to the `dumping ground' mentality that I think many knowledge management systems suffer from.

So my recommendation to you is that rather than focus on a framework - you have a system were your workers regularly write up their work as reports or white papers and these are circulated internally - you may be the relaxed and groovy type of start up that puts such reports on the website so that you can get some `thought leadership' going...

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This is an interesting thought... But I am afraid that this is not an option for now when we all work on this on top of regular jobs/studies and when the time is required to do all the other vital activities. However, I can see a potential in this when we dedicate ourselves full time to this. –  Dmitry Selitskiy Feb 14 '12 at 20:54
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The methodology I'm about to suggest here is heavily inspired by GTD, and should actually use it as a foundation.

I think when it comes to work, any and all knowledge you could collect is only ever useful if it's put towards a task/project/goal or a habit/routine within a company or an individual's workflow.

I think a database for knowledge, even if superbly categorised and organised, which seems to be your main challenge as of asking this question, is only marginally useful. The tendency is for it to be used, as the other answerer puts it, as a dumping ground, rarely if ever accessing most of that again.

The line of thinking of my way to go about this (action-oriented information management) comes from GTD, where you have all these projects and tasks, but ultimately there's a part of them you never actually do, because the point of GTD is to have them all on the table to make weekly/daily decisions, prioritising on the spot, of what is more important to do with the limited time you have. You have down all that you could do, but you can't realistically do all of it.

So the knowledge needs to be associated with your tasks and projects. Every bit of knowledge is useful because it relates to a given task or routine you will or may do in the future. A system that allows you to attach these bits to the tasks, so choosing a task or activating a project/goal becomes a trigger to access the knowledge, would allow you to access the information only when you actually need it and if you need it. A part of what you collected in your research may never get used, as plans change and some tasks get dropped in favor of others.

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very good point - is this your own idea or are there already approaches based on this action-oriented view? –  Martin Nov 21 '12 at 9:29
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I came to these conclusions out of my own (unfulfilled) needs, and I've yet to find software that addresses it, so I'm working on it myself. –  Vic Goldfeld Nov 21 '12 at 18:53
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that's interesting - exactly matching my own unfulfilled needs! I often stumble upon information (e. g. during surfing the web) which might be interesting for another project or task and it is a problem to store it so that I can back to it later when I'll be working on the other project... –  Martin Nov 22 '12 at 14:49
    
I have a tentative UI and data model in my head to go about it, but I have some other priorities right now in my app. If you want, sign up at leakmap.com and I'll let you know when I get around to our dream productivity solution. –  Vic Goldfeld Nov 22 '12 at 18:17
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Have you thought of using a knowledge management software like PHPKB to structure and organize your knowledge in a centralized system?

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This question doesn't answer my question. –  Dmitry Selitskiy Feb 14 '12 at 20:52
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@DmitrySelitskiy It seems to me like suggesting an existing Knowledge Management System is a very specific answer to your question. I expect the phrasing as a question is primarily because Ajay thinks this is a discussion site. –  tomjedrz Mar 11 '12 at 21:06
    
@ajay If you have a suggestion, make it directly. If you have a clarifying question, post it as a comment to the original question. –  tomjedrz Mar 11 '12 at 21:08
    
"I am not interested in software recommendations here" –  Vic Goldfeld Mar 11 '12 at 21:46
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