Knowledge Management Essay

Knowledge Management Case on Ford and KPMG.

Ford Motor Company.

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CoPs processes created to support Fords BRP.

            Ford motor company has a rich history of replicating best practices among all the company’s business activities.  Best Practice Replication (BRP) is a knowledge management process which is based on a set of principles and a distinct process which dictates certain specific roles and responsibilities (Kwiecien, 2001).  BRP practices are founded on the concept of Communities of Practice (CoPs) and they require all the community members to gather, evaluate, re-distribute and give feedback on how business in various areas can be improved.

            There are about 60 CoPs which support BRP at Ford Motor Company.  Out of this, only 15 are directly linked to the manufacturing operations.   Those related to manufacturing processes cover various areas like the assembly, machine operations, metal stamping among others.  Most of these CoPs processes date back to the mid 1980s within the manufacturing operations.  One of Ford’s CoPs is paint whereby each assembly has one paint shop, paints vehicles and follows similar base procedures in the painting process.

            The structure of CoPs for BRP processes is such that, a focal point submits a new draft practice or replicate practice into a computer database, the practice is then reviewed by the experts and upon approval, it is published in a web application which can be accessed by all the 53 manufacturing plants.  At this point, the team members at each plant review the practice for applicability and they make a decision on whether to adopt or not to adopt that particular practice.  The BRP process feedback is then sent to the focal point for validation.

Knowledge management tools.

            To support the principles of BRP and CoPs processes, Ford has developed several KM tools and technologies.  BRP is one of the most successful KM tool used by Ford.  The concept of BRP has existed since mid 1980s, though formal evolution of KM at Ford started in 1995 when the company initiated a scheme for easing the replication of BRP processes among all its factories.  Originally, BRP practices employed the use of paper and other non technical ways of transferring knowledge.  However, the discovery of internet and intranet technology in the early and mid 1990s provided an easier and faster means of sharing knowledge.

            The use of technology has facilitated unprecedented growth in the BRP processes with the number of CoPs increasing rapidly from 15 as they initially were to 60 (and counting) today.  Phase implementation of KM at Ford has helped the company to gradually replace the traditional manual processes of communication and knowledge sharing BRP to a web based computer application.  In addition, the use of flexible templates and reports in the phase implementation process has enabled quicker responses to the evolving communities as well as to the specialized needs of the new communities.

The most significant aspect of the case.

            Ford’s success has mainly been attributed to the well defined processes which enabled the effective application of modern technology in all BRP practices.  The company’s great desire to discover and develop new technical solutions has also played a big role in providing Ford with one of the world’s best KM solution.  In this case, Ford has proven to be highly flexible and dynamic when it comes to embracing new business initiatives and technologies This case thus shows that, to succeed in knowledge management, a company must have a great process which must also be supported with a great code.

Knowledge Management Case on KPMG.

Knowledge organizational structure adopted by KPMG.

            The process of knowledge systems development at KPMG was officially introduced in 1998.  Though KM initiatives were initially faced with some false starts, mishaps and technological challenges, the company has since experienced major successes and it today enjoys a strong technological and cultural global system for knowledge-sharing.  The success of KM at KPMG has been primarily attributed to the effective initial in-cooperation of numerous national and organizational cultures into the company’s knowledge sharing infrastructure.

            The company’s knowledge organizational structure is composed of a mixture of geographies, professional, numerous business units and well defined systems for providing services to the clients.  This structure is more effective than a centralized organizational structure as it entirely leaves the responsibility of decision making to the business.  Simply put, KPMG’s knowledge organizational structure is focused on leveraging the process of knowledge sharing throughout the company and this makes it highly effective and adequate for knowledge sharing and management.

Knowledge toolkit.

            KPMG’s knowledge organization which comprises of the local, global, service line and industrial levels has helped to create a wide variety of options from which the company’s employees can chose from (Roa, 2004).  KWorld which is the greatest knowledge toolkit provides KPMG with all the necessary knowledge resources required for knowledge sharing.  From the KWorld intranet, several options are available for the users.  One of these options is KSource which acts as a virtual library for the company with various search options.  In addition, there is a global home-page which provides numerous links that assist all users to easily locate the available information.

            Another option at the KWorld is the Skills and Experience system where company employees upload and update their resume information and this makes it easy for the company to easily locate the best suited person for a particular project when need arises.  A client and Target system in the knowledge toolkit further helps to provide information about certain companies in which KPMG people are working and their employment details, while a universal tool helps the employees to scan various knowledge resources concurrently.  Another knowledge toolkit known as the KClient enables the company to share information with its clients providing them with valuable and up-to-date information on the work progress.

            In my opinion, the KPMG knowledge toolkit is highly adequate as it provides various means by which knowledge can be shared both internally (among the employees) and externally with (the clients).

Lesson.

            One major lesson learnt from the KPMG case is that, an effective KM initiative must be preceded with a strong business proposition and a great commitment to the whole process of knowledge management.  Much of KMPG’s KM success is as a result of simple but straight-forward utilization of tools which are adequately deployed to address specific business problems.  Some of the company’s most common KM tools include template websites which accommodate both internet and intranet facilities at relatively low costs.  Finally, proper communication and simple solutions to the existing business problems are key to successful knowledge sharing and management (Rao, 2004).
References.

Kwiecien, S. (2001). Best practice replication: The evolution of KM at Ford Motor Company.   Inside Knowledge, Volume 5 Issue 3.

Rao, M. (2004).  Knowledge Management Tools and Techniques: Practitioners and Experts       Evaluate KM Solutions. Butterworth-Heinemann.