An Approach to Knowledge
Management for SMEs
This is a DTI funded project that involves
10 construction companies, 3 construction
networks and 2 universities.
The aim is to improve knowledge management
(KM) in SMEs improving people, processes
and products to provide economic, social
and sustainability benefits. The objectives
- to test a semi-formalised technique
for capturing, transforming and disseminating
the learning of individuals in SME
- to assess the impact of the dissemination
of transferable learning.
- to identify barriers to achieving
knowledge transfer within SMEs.
- to investigate ways that this
knowledge management process can become
part of the project cycle.
- to investigate how IT can be used
to operate this KM process.
- to develop a promotion and training
package for SMEs on the KM approach.
Site managers and project managers
solve complex problems in their day
to day work,
however, the industry does not capture
this and may even not realise its significance.
If this Knowledge was collected, structured
and disseminated then there would be
significant benefits to the companies.
It is strongly
recognised that there is a lack of
a formal approach to the sharing, documentation,
transferring, auditing and exploitation
of “organisational working knowledge” (some
of which lead to process, product and
service innovations), as well as the
of information technologies by SMEs
in this regard. This lack of a formal
in organisations and on projects is
seen to affect the passing on of experiences
and relevant knowledge to future projects
and organisational development. It
limits continuous improvements in construction
The Approach of this project to improve
this phenomenon is a simple yet robust
method; fitting in with the ways people
and companies work. Each week, the manager
dictates a problem solving event into a
Dictaphone in order to Capture Knowledge.
These recordings contain the personal knowledge
and thinking of the manager. To see the
significance of these events and to transform
the knowledge in order to make it accessible
to others, the managers are Debriefed each
month about the set of recorded events.
Once the significant knowledge is made
explicit, it can then be Disseminated within
the company and the industry. The longer
term objective is that the companies can
learn to operate the Approach by themselves.
The personal knowledge that is embedded
in the recorded events is very complex
as it depends heavily on the context and
developing circumstances of the event.
This knowledge is referred to as TACIT
knowledge and is not generally available
outside the person. However in practice,
sometimes knowledge transformation and
dissemination does take place through managers
telling stories about their work. However,
this knowledge is not validated nor is
the process dependable. The Approach works
with these ideas but in a more formal way.
The project is of 18 months duration and
will evaluate the Approach with the companies
and deliver refinements and training to
operate it. This will be reported to industry
workshops, disseminated in leaflets and
broadcast on a dedicated web site.