Knowledge Management Capabilities Supporting Collaborative Working Environments in a Project Oriented Context

Costa, Ruben; Lima, Celson; Antunes, João; Figueiras, Paulo; Parada, Vitor
January 2010
Proceedings of the European Conference on Intellectual Capital;2010, p208
Conference Proceeding
Projects are traditional forms of collaboration, where groups of professionals share competencies and skills towards a common goal. However, the execution of internet-based projects brought new requirements to be fulfilled. New ways to support electronic collaboration (e-collaboration) have been proposed and are still required. There is still a lot of work to be done on new ways supporting e-collaboration. With the economical downturn over the last years, margins of profits are being squeezed in most industries, resulting in an urgent need for higher efficiency and greater effectiveness, including putting in place better-value ways of working. In this sense, universities are keen on putting in practice new courses towards knowledge management initiatives. Industry is eager on adopting new ways of collaboration, supported by effective knowledge management activities. European research projects namely IPs, are driving the effort for discovering better-value ways of working. The combination of knowledge and reasoning related concepts, techniques, and tools, represent a research topic. This argument is reinforced by the fact that e-collaboration is one of the trends of European research projects (ex. CoSpaces and eCospace Integrated Projects) focused on the topic collaborative workspaces. The Knowledge Management (KM) process is the embodiment and harmonisation of four key knowledge enabling entities: people (humanware), organisations (orgaware), information (infoware), and technology (technoware) in a synergistic manner leading to better value addition for a particular task at a particular time (Kazi et al. 2001). Such dimensions must be taken into account in order to deploy an effective KM initiative. Knowledge Management tools aim to: (i) identify the relevant knowledge within the organisation; (ii) find out where it is held; and (iii) sharing and reuse throughout the entire organisation. KM, then, through sharing best practices and learning from past projects, can be an effective means of implementing lean processes inside organisations. This work will be focused on the technology dimension, but aligned with other strategies focused on human factors, collaboration models and information sharing. The results are expected to support professionals and working teams by having access to useful information at their fingertips and enhance decision making on co-located and distributed project meetings, improving project conduction through the anticipation of problems, deviations, solutions, etc., relying on two main elements: (i) ontology-based classification and indexation of similarities among projects; and (ii) historical data analysis of the outputs (issues & solutions) produced at each decisional gate. This can be achieved by a knowledge system based on collaboration models and contextualized information which is shared and used by knowledge workers. Keeping and re-using knowledge is of capital importance for the companies' competitiveness used in continuous improvement of existing product/processes and in new developments, therefore the approach presented here is based on the exchange/sharing of knowledge and competencies at a project level, supported by reasoning processes, used in order to create new knowledge, store and share again throughout the enterprise, by combining ideas and feedback from all phases of the product life cycle.


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