Tag Archive for Knowledge Management

Knowledge Pool: Easier collaboration, Better Knowledge

My last post, Social Business Collaboration Meets SharePoint 2010 Intranet, included a few videos showing your collaborative experience can be enhanced using Cim Social Business Collaboration on your SharePoint 2010 Intranet.  They focused on people working within an IT Department portal.  In this article, we’ll do some “Day in the life” videos and look at a specific scenario where users are sharing and collaborating as part of a knowledge community from across a SharePoint environment.  We’ll see how the knowledge evolves and improves via the collaborative community and the inter-action of participants. 

The 4 “Day in the Life” videos show different users sharing, using, and collaborating on the topic of modifying the branding of a portal on SharePoint.  A key aspect to note is that the users are working from different locations across a SharePoint environment: a Cim-branded department portal, a native SharePoint team site, and, a native SharePoint My Site.  Yet, they are all tapping into the same Knowledge Pool community, interacting, and seeing the activities of others from wherever they work – without having to navigate somewhere else.  This convenience and visibility enables greater participation that drives improved collaboration and results.


Here we show a schematic of how this lays out.  In the scenario, our “community” is not a place that the users go, rather, it is a resource that they leverage from wherever they work.


Knowledge Pool: 4 “Day in the Life Videos”


Knowledge Pool: Contributing an Article (runtime 3:59)

Here Pat Green kicks things off working from the IT Department portal by contributing an article on changing the menu style of a portal.


Knowledge Pool: Enhancing Knowledge, Working from a Team Site (runtime 3:07)

John Gold picks up the ball and leverages this information to update his Process Improvements portal.  He also enhances the article with additional information about modifying the image and the CSS styling.


Knowledge Pool: Using the Knowledge via a My Site (runtime 2:21)

William Rogers needs to brand a new portal for projects.  Working from his My Site he accesses the Knowledge Pool, locates the enhanced article, does his branding, and, provides feedback.


Knowledge Pool: Collaborative Activity in Your Activity Stream (runtime 1:37)

Now, we go full circle. Pat checks her activity stream and sees all of the activity that others have done on this now enhanced article.


The Knowledge Pool community is just one use case of leveraging Cim for collaborative work.  Each community can be customized to fit the need.  As shown here, they can be snapped into any existing SharePoint site so that users can tap into them from wherever they work.  Users no longer have to navigate to go somewhere to access information, collaborate, and see activity.  The system brings it to them.

In the Knowledge Pool scenario, this ease, convenience, and visibility typically results in better knowledge.  The information gets more eyes on it, more use, and gathers value.  It may get so good, that, you want to polish it up and publish it to a more formal community for use internally or customer facing.  How about adding a simple process, where a group of people could tap into this pool of knowledge, make decisions about which items to publish, polish them up, and then publish them?  To see how this works, check out my post Knowledge Pipeline: From Raw Data to Published (and Improving) Knowledge that describes how you can do this.



Knowledge Pipeline: From Raw Information to Published (and improving) Knowledge

In my last article, Drive tangible results when Social Activity is “In-the-flow” of Business, I referenced people/sources over the years that have written about the importance of putting social activity “in-the-flow” of business in order to drive adoption and tangible business value.  In this article, I’ll discuss a specific application that follows this design approach with Cim v2.0 on SharePoint.  The application is a Knowledge Pipeline that works to capture raw knowledge, process it to transform it into publishable content, and then, serves it up to customers for them to consume and provide feedback.

Situation & Desired Objective

For many organizations, having quality knowledge at the fingertips of customers is very valuable to the organizations success.  In today’s world that knowledge is often being re-packaged and presented in different media forms or multi-media packages.  So, how are we doing?

We all have lots of raw information all over our organization – in SharePoint lists somewhere, on people’s laptops, in lots and lots of emails, in a forum, in videos online somewhere, in proprietary systems.  We also have other places where people consume refined, published, passive content.  We usually don’t have defined ways of getting the raw knowledge transformed into the right content in the right place.  We also don’t know what knowledge is really needed or wanted.  We also have issues of getting enough raw knowledge (ever try and get a developer to write some technical documentation) or the right raw knowledge.  And, how are we doing in our knowledge life cycle? Do you have solid visibility into your knowledge pipeline?

Here is my list of the top 10 things that people are looking for to improve the results of getting good knowledge to customers in:

  1. We would want to know the needs of our customers – from their voices. We want this to be easy for them and for us.
  2. We need for it to be easier and more convenient for people to share their raw knowledge and be able to know what knowledge is important to our customers.
  3. We want our people to be able to easily collaborate to generate raw knowledge, validate it and improve upon it.
  4. We also want the raw knowledge, and the published knowledge to be at the fingertips of our internal users – they are customers too.
  5. We’d like to have a repository of raw knowledge that we could draw on to meet the needs.
  6. We’d want a process to effectively transform raw knowledge to publishable knowledge of high quality that meets the needs of customers.
  7. We need a way to efficiently prioritize what raw knowledge gets processed – all knowledge does not have the same value/urgency.
  8. We want to capture feedback on the usefulness of our knowledge and the quality, including the best format of knowledge (we are in a multi-media, digital world)
  9. We’d like to be able to see and manage the life cycle of the process.
  10. We want happy customers that rave about the usefulness and accessibility of our knowledge.

it is about meeting the needs of our customers.  For most of this article, I am thinking of customer as an external customer.  However, everything also applies to our internal people, in  those cases where we want to treat them as customers.

Solution: Knowledge Pipeline Application

There are a number of very different activities that must occur to make a knowledge pipeline process work.  Here I’ll lay out a standard design for a Cim-based Knowledge Pipeline application that brings them all together.  At the heart of this solution is how it aligns the various activities into a broad, process that delivers the results. 

Below is a schematic that lays out the flow of the process.  It consists of four main elements.

knowledge pipeline 700

The schematic above briefly describe the activities that occur within each of the four elements.  In a SharePoint environment, each of the elements are typically completely separate SharePoint sites (or a cluster of sites) that may be located anywhere.  The Process connects them.

This Knowledge Pipeline application is a typical Cim-based social business process.  A core distinction is that it is not designed as a workflow, i.e., a sequential process to get ALL items from A to B.  Instead it is a loosely-coupled, work stream.  Each of the elements can operate and thrive on their own and are valuable in and off themselves.  However, in this application, they are aligned  and connected (loosely-coupled) so that those items that are prioritized CAN flow through a managed process.  In addition, each element has social collaboration activities that help improve the result, including helping to determine what should go through the process and what the output should be.  The result is that a process designed such as this helps to improve the effectiveness of the result and do it efficiently.  There is a cost to any item that goes through the process.  With Knowledge Pipeline, people are able to balance the desired and actual output with the costs.

Below I’ll look at each of the four stages and mention some key drivers of Cim on SharePoint that make for a more effective and efficient Knowledge Pipeline solution.


This application is particularly well suited to a SharePoint environment.  In most organizations, SharePoint is a broadly adopted, distributed work environment.  This means that people often work in their own areas – a site or sites within a portal area.  The Knowledge Pool is a collaborative Cim community – a place to go and share.  However, the main collaborative user interface for the Knowledge Pool can be snapped off and distributed to any site across SharePoint.  Thus, the contributors are able to have it at their fingertips where they work.  For instance, they may be in a project site and access the Knowledge Pool from there and quickly post some raw knowledge.  They may be in a department portal, a team site, their My Site, or, an application – and post.  Thus, as they do their day to day work the Knowledge Pool is effectively at their fingertips.  In addition, they have the ability to search and access the finished product from the Customer Communities, again, from wherever they work.  Thus, a Cim implementation on SharePoint is an effective way to put social activity “in-the–flow” of the day to day work of business.  The result is more content, greater visibility, and more extensive feedback and collaboration.

Knowledge Pool

This is where the raw knowledge resides – it is the pool of knowledge waiting to be used.  It is a place that you can go, typically in its own portal or embedded into an existing one.    Users can find information by search, activity popularity, tagging, taxonomy, etc.  They collaborate on items – comment, rate items, upload files of supporting or contrasting information, even do semi-formal peer reviews.  Items get cumulative ratings and scores that can be helpful in prioritizing them for the knowledge process.  In addition, needs are entered here that come internally or flow back from the Customer Communities. 

A key part of the design is the ease with which people can just post information here in its raw form.  Got good information in an email; just cut and paste it in.  No need for formality – just share.    In addition, Cim creates listings of Most Recent, Highest Rated, Top Contributors, etc. that further drives visibility and provides recognition for ones efforts.  These can also be snapped in anywhere across a SharePoint environment to further increase visibility, participation, and collaboration.


The Knowledge Pipeline application has a Stage Gate process. The Process is used to take the raw information from the Pool and put it through a number of stages that transforms it into publishable knowledge.  The transformation may be simple, like reforming text into a standard document template.  Or, it may involve creating wholly new content or supporting content such as videos, presentations, etc.  There is a cost to any item that goes through the process so only certain items are selected.  The collaborative activity that occurs in the Knowledge Pool helps to prioritize what should go through the process.

The Process itself is very configurable.  Typically, it consists of a number of stages such as Screen, Review, Finish, Decide, Publish, Portfolio.  The Screening Stage is really just a view into the Knowledge Pool from where you select and push items into the Process.  During each stage there are a number of activities – emailing, editing, reviews, comments, tasks, deliverables, votes, decisions, publishing, etc.   When an item meets a certain criteria, a decision is made (the Gate), and, it is moved to the next stage.  In a typical Cim implementation, the Process will have at least one primary collaborative review activity. The activity is tracked.  As items go through the process contributors and others are notified of progress.  Finished items then get published out to the Customer Community sites.

As a pipeline, you can see what is in each stage and make decisions to invest, expedite, hold, and, kill – you can manage it.  Without a process such as this, i.e., in a typical ad hoc environment – there really is no way to manage the Knowledge Pipeline.  Most organizations simply lack visibility.   In addition, there is built in reporting so that managers can look at what is in the Knowledge Pool (upstream), in process in the pipeline, or that has been published (downstream). 

Customer Communities

In a full Cim solution on SharePoint, the communities are also built using Cim or a Cim community is embedded into an existing Internet/Extranet/Intranet site.  If so, the Cim community information is not just static, passive content, rather, it is in the form of articles, with multi-media content – text, video, files, links, pictures – whatever is relevant to the topic.  In addition, it is interactive.  The users can easily find the content, consume it, and provide feedback via ratings and comments.  They can also be enabled to do soft reviews or survey-style more formal reviews.  In addition, the users can post their needs, questions, ideas for additional information which ties back to the Knowledge Pool and the Process and the process owners.  A well designed community provides visibility of new content and makes it easy for users to find the content based upon their need as opposed to the media format of the content.


The Knowledge Pipeline is a great use of Cim on SharePoint.  I know because we’ve implemented it within CorasWorks and it a key part of our drive for customer and partner success.  It is one of those apps that didn’t get designed on a whiteboard – it evolved through experience with our customers and our internal experiences.  In a future article, I’ll tell you the story of this evolution which I think will help you uncover additional opportunities for other applications that map to a similar pattern.

But for you, the Knowledge Pipeline application is good to go, and you can start with it today.  To summarize…

Each of the four elements can leverage Cim to make them effective in and of itself.  When they are aligned, as shown in this design, you then have an effective and efficient way to turn raw information into published knowledge in your interactive customer community.  It is effective, because the social collaboration provides the visibility and feedback in order to make the right decision about what gets through the process.  it is efficient because the application makes it easy and convenient to get structured work done.

The entire design of the application drives home the leverage that you can get when you align social collaboration activities with your business process – or as said by others – put social activity “in-the-flow” of your business.

If you want to see the Knowledge Pipeline in action, ask your CorasWorks sales rep or email innovation@corasworks.net, and they can demo our internal implementation of it.


R3 Knowledge Factory for Cim: Ideas to Knowledge Products

A very common business process, particularly for the SharePoint community, is creating knowledge used by the organization or external communities.  R3 Business Solutions, has created the Knowledge Factory add-on for CorasWorks Idea Management, that leverages social features of Cim to improve the process of tranforming ideas and questions into knowledge that is interactive and dynamic.   This is a very interesting solution for Cim, in that it highlights the fact that the output is a knowledge product.  This solution really helps you to start thinking of knowledge in a product management context and giving you the means to get there.  Here is a discussion of this business scenario and a walkthrough of their add-on solution.

The Situation

A lot of time and effort goes into creating information that can be used as knowledge by your internal workforce or external communities.  The process raises some key questions.  What knowledge is needed and being asked for?  How important is it?  What is the process for creating and approving it for publication?  How do we manage the processes for different types of information? How can users find it and access it?  What do users think of the knowledge?  How can it be improved? What has been published?  How often is it used or looked for? How easy is it to change and versionize?  How do we track our knowledge creation process and the user satisfaction?

The tools and approach of most organizations lack the ability to answer many of these questions.  Typically, knowledge creation is a back room process with an end product that is rather dry and passive (aka a document).  Most approaches lack the interactivity to drive forward the value of knowledge.  Often, it gets published without the ability for the users to interact and add value upfront, during the creation, or after it is published.  It is often not easy to find the right information or to know what is important or even popular.  As a key part of the work of most organizations, this is an important process to improve.  

R3 Knowledge Factory Solution

Leveraging CorasWorks Idea Management, R3 has created an end-to-end add-on solution that provides organizations with a 360 degree process for transforming ideas, questions, and topics into knowledge that is dynamic and continuously improved.  It is a product management solution for knowledge.  It leverages the social aspects of Cim to know what is needed by users and to get feedback on the finished knowledge product that is used to improve existing knowledge and also drive needs.  In effect, Knowledge Factory takes a dry, passive process and transforms it into an interactive, dynamic, measurable system for serving the knowledge needs of users.

The Walkthrough

In this walkthrough, we’ll look at a scenario for the HR department.  We’ll assume that they have their own community where users can post ideas, questions, and topics.  It is part of the HR portal.  Users consume the published knowledge via a self-service display in the HR portal or in any other portal in the environment.  In the middle, there is an HR Knowledge Base app where the heavy lifting of creating the knowledge base articles and managing the review and approve process takes place.  Below we show the core modules of the solution and the activities.  Note that the solution is role-based in that different users are working in different contexts from different places across your SharePoint environment.



The HR Community

It starts with the Community.  As shown below, users are posting ideas and questions for the HR department.  Other users can also see them, rate them and comment on them.  This is used to determine the demand for a given topic. Members of HR can also respond to the posts via comments or email in an interactive and visible way.  



Knowledge Mgmt App: Scan, Screen, and Select

Each department or group can have its own Knowledge Management app.  This is where the creating process happens and the knowledge base is located.  From here they can scan the Community posts.  For instance, the HR department can see the posts in the HR Community.  Plus they can see posts in other communities that might relate to their work. They can view the original post and interact – commenting as necessary.  As shown below, they can then select posts to kick off a draft of a knowledge base article – it automatically pulls in information from the post and provides the user with a form to begin the process.  It also maintains a trackback to the original post providing the means for continued interactivity with users during the knowledge creation process.



Knowledge Mgmt App: Create and Review Process

Knowledge Base owners then go about their process to create the KB article with supporting information – often interacting with users.  The end result would be the KB article description, attached documents, links to videos and web pages.  This is then put through a managed review process with notifications. The end result is publishing the article for consumption by users.

KB Articles - review


KB Self-Service: Search and Social

Once published, KB articles are available in the self-service display.  In our scenario, this would be available in the HR Portal.  It can also be snapped into any other portal/location across your SharePoint environment.  As shown below, this lets users search the knowledge base (with suggestions) and access the information.  Each search by a user is tracked so that KB owners have another way to know what users are looking for.  In addition, users are able to rate the articles and comment which helps other users and the KB owners.  The commenting allows for the HR KB owner to interact with users in a public or private manner. 

search combo-850


KB Top 10 Listings

Think dynamic marketing of knowledge.  Sometimes users aren’t proactive.  They often just want to see what is new and most popular.  Knowledge Factory comes with a Top 10 Listings display that shows users the most recent articles and the highest rated articles (Star Power as shown below).  They can quickly click through multiple knowledge bases all in one display.

top 10


Wrap Up

R3’s Knowledge Factory does a great job of providing the complete 360 degree process of transforming ideas into knowledge.   It leverages social interactivity at all of the key points in the life cycle.  In doing so, it actually transforms your process from a “back-room” activity into a dynamic, interactive way that needs are effectively converted into knowledge that has its own cycle of improvement. It also comes with extensive tracking and reporting such as seeing what KB articles are published and what users are looking for.  This helps you to guide your efforts and activities going forward.  You can now have a 360 process for managing knowledge like a product. 

The solution is an add-on for CorasWorks Idea Management.  It is licensed on a single perpetual license per customer depending on size of organization.  The one solution can be used to support multiple departments.  And, the communities and self-service Snaplets can be distributed across your SharePoint environment for maximum visibility and interactivity.