L1 km product vs process

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Consolidating the Product Versus Process Approaches in Knowledge Management: The Know-Net Approach
Dimitris Apostolou PLANET S.A. dapost@planet.gr www.planet.gr Gregory Mentzas* Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering National Technical University of Athens gmentzas@softlab.nt ua.gr Ronald Young Knowledge Associates ronyoung@knowled geassociates.com www.knowledgeass ociates.com AndreasAbecker DFKI aabecker@dfki.unikl.de www.dfki.de

Abstract
Two main approaches to knowledge management have been followed by early adopters of the principle (Hansen, 1999), (Koehn, 1997): the process-centred approach, that mainly understands KM as a social communication process; and the product-centred approach, that focuses on knowledge documents, their creation, storage and reuse incomputer-based corporate memories. This distinction is evident not only in KM implementations in companies, but also in supporting methodologies and tools. The Know-Net solution, that includes a theoretical framework, a consulting method and a software tool, is based on a knowledge asset-centric design that innovatively fuses the process-centred approach with the product-centred approach.

1.Introduction
Knowledge management’s rise to prominence reflects a widespread recognition that fundamental changes are taking place in the way companies do business, with regard to their internal organisation and their external relationships with customers, suppliers and competitors. The first phase in the emergence of a knowledge management (KM) market – now drawing to an end (Ovum, 1999) – has beencharacterised by considerable hype and confusion. In this first phase early adopters followed different approaches to knowledge management with varying emphasis on technology, cultural, organisational and managerial issues. Nevertheless, if one has a look into the research landscape as well as into the business world, it is easy to notice that two main strategies for knowledge management have beenemployed by early adopters of the principle (Hansen, 1999), (Kühn, 1997): • The process-centred approach mainly understands KM as a social communication process. In this approach, knowledge is closely tied to the person who developed it and is shared mainly through person-to-person contacts. The main purpose of Information Technology in this approach is to help people communicate knowledge, not tostore it. This approach is also referred to as the ‘personalisation’ approach. • The product-centred approach focuses on knowledge documents, their creation, storage and reuse in computer-based corporate memories. This approach is also referred to as ‘contentcentred’ or ‘codification’ approach. The main motivation of the Know-Net project1 (Know-Net consortium, 1999), (Mentzas and Apostolou, 1998) hasbeen to design, develop and test a total solution for KM that would explicitly address and integrate the two prominent approaches. Moving towards the conclusion of the KnowNet project this paper aims to substantiate the bias towards the process-centred and productcentred approaches in KM initiatives, methods and software tools, present the research findings and our approach regarding theintegration of the two approaches and demonstrate how this integration is accomplished in all constituents of the Know-Net solution, that include: • A holistic conceptual framework that can be used by managers as a roadmap for ensuring integrity of the Knowledge Management effort. • A KM methodology that helps organisations define and document their knowledge management strategy, audit and design businessprocesses that enhance and facilitate corporate learning, establish related organisational roles, facilitate knowledge sharing between people in the organisation, and explicitly measure and evaluate the quality and business value of the organisation’s intellectual capital.

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The Know-Net project is a European research effort partly funded by the European Scientific Programme of Research in...
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