Information technology (IT) project disasters make worldwide headlines, and billions of dollars have been lost due to poor project implementations. The Standish Group, a research advisory firm, reports that only one-third of the over 13,500 IT projects evaluated in 2003 were successful, and half of the reported IT projects were classified as challenged, meaning they experienced cost and budget overruns (Larkowski, 2003). While the state of IT project management is improving, organizations must explore ways to reduce unnecessary spending that occurs because of failures, cost and schedule overruns on IT projects. One possibility is to improve knowledge sharing to avoid repeating mistakes and to build on successes from the past.
Many tools have been developed to assist IT project managers in avoiding project failures, including post-mortem analysis, knowledge management systems, and networking. Rather than focusing on specific tools for sharing knowledge, this section describes generic classes of knowledge sharing tools available to IT project managers. Each tool is described in terms of what type of knowledge is shared (i.e., available in documented form or emergent through interaction), who is the primary user of the tool (i.e., project manager or entire project team), where knowledge is shared within the organization (i.e., between individuals or organization-wide), and why the tool is used for sharing knowledge (i.e., exploitation of existing knowledge or a basis for exploration of new knowledge).
Key Terms in this Chapter
Codified Knowledge Systems: Documented and stored knowledge residing in a centralized database which serves as a repository of knowledge within the organization.
Knowledge Sharing: Knowledge that is communicated among people with similar job functions and backgrounds.
Best Practices: Set of standards developed for specific activities to guide project managers in managing a successful project.
Templates: Documents—such as project plans, budgets, or documentation—used on prior projects that are continually reused to maintain consistency across projects.
Personalized Knowledge Systems: Knowledge map that enables people seeking knowledge to find people within the organization with the necessary knowledge and skills.
Project Management: Use of knowledge, skills, tools, and techniques to perform activities related to a temporary venture to develop a unique product or service according to stakeholder specifications.
Networking: Social relationships that facilitate knowledge sharing through intense interaction, discussion, and sharing of practices and values.
Knowledge: Combination of experience, values, contextual information, and insight used to create a framework to evaluate and absorb new experiences and information.
Collaboration Systems: Information systems used to enable colleagues to virtually meet to discuss, brainstorm ideas, and share the knowledge that emerge from their collaboration.
Post-Mortem Analysis: Process to identify and document successes and failures for a given project.