Criteria for Designing & Evaluating Knowledge Management Systems

Knowledge management system design and evaluation considerations in business organizations and human resources development office employees
Employees in an office. Knowledge management systems design and evaluation depend on variables like organizational culture, compensation system, analytical models, human resource skills, and organizational technological capabilities. (Photo by Israel Andrade; Public Domain)

Developing a knowledge management system requires consideration for organizational culture, compensation systems, analytical models, human resource skills, and organizational technological capabilities. Other considerations include factors based on changes in the organization. The new system must seamlessly integrate with the organization and its characteristics, as well as its future state.

A company can take advantage of existing or potential knowledge by developing and implementing a knowledge management system specific to the organization’s conditions. Through the system, the organization can gather and utilize knowledge to improve human resource development and increase organizational productivity and performance. In designing and evaluating a knowledge management system, managers need to identify the organizational components or functions that can be integrated into the system. Company managers need a comprehensive understanding of the capabilities of the organization.

The main criteria for the design and evaluation of a knowledge management system, such as one developed for a business organization, are the following, with reference to the characteristics of the organization and their effects on individual and group performance: (1) organizational culture, (2) compensation system, (3) perspective or model for analyzing the organization, (4) technological skills of employees, and (5) technological capabilities of the organization. These factors are among the most crucial for managers to consider for improving effectiveness and success in implementing the knowledge management system.

Organizational Culture’s Effect on Knowledge Management Systems Design

The organization’s culture is a main factor that affects the design and evaluation of knowledge management systems. Corporate culture is typically extensive in its influence on the activities and perspectives of workers. The fulfillment of the major processes of knowledge management, such as gathering, organizing, refining and disseminating depends on the kind or amount of support from the organizational culture.

The cultural tendencies of employees in responding to new knowledge affects how the organization gathers, refines and disseminates knowledge. Also, organizational behavior and organizational culture influence each other. Managers need to ensure that the target knowledge aligns with the organizational culture. It is also necessary that the way knowledge is managed is acceptable based on the culture and behavior of the organization.

Compensation Systems

A company’s compensation system affects the design and evaluation of knowledge management systems in the organization. The significance of the compensation system is based on the motivational influence of compensation. For example, motivation theory indicates that compensation determines the way employees perceive their jobs and their work environment. A company that wants to improve knowledge management capabilities would need to ensure that its compensation system is sufficient in motivating workers to support organizational efforts in knowledge management.

A new knowledge management system that comes with an increase in employees’ responsibilities would also require possible additions or changes in incentives and basic compensation. In order for the organization’s management to be effective in designing and evaluating the new knowledge management system, an appropriate set of metrics must be used. Evaluation must encompass the new system and other affected areas, such as the compensation system. The goal is to assess how the compensation system provides the necessary support for the successful use of the knowledge management system.

Analytical Perspective or Approach

The perspective or approach used in analyzing the organization and its knowledge management involves the organizational models that apply to the organization’s specific condition. Managers should be knowledgeable about applicable organizational models in order to properly analyze and understand the organization’s situation. The analysis must include consideration for the knowledge management practices of the organization.

In addition, in designing and evaluating the knowledge management system, managers need to consider how the organization has developed. They also need to determine how the organization can be improved by way of the knowledge management system. These efforts must be done while keeping in mind that the needs of the organization may vary, depending on the analytical model or perspective used.

Workers’ Technological Skills

The technological skills of workers matter when it comes to designing or evaluating a knowledge management system. These systems usually come with information technology, especially in an organization that uses information technologies for many of its business operations. Thus, the design and assessment of the knowledge management system must consider the technological knowledge, skills, and abilities of employees suited to using the system.

Organizational leaders and managers should help workers acquire the technological skills needed to utilize information technologies that come with new knowledge management systems. For example, new training programs and tools can improve employees’ adoption of the new system. Also, it may be necessary to adjust existing business processes and communication channels.

The Organization’s Technological Capabilities

The technological capabilities of the organization affect the development of knowledge management systems. Existing information technologies in the company determine the actual knowledge management system components that can be integrated. This means that the manager should consider how the organization’s technological capabilities support the knowledge management system, in order to appropriately design and evaluate the system.

The resource-based view (RBV) can be used to ensure a proper fit or alignment between knowledge management and strategy development. Emphasis on the technological resources of the organization helps in cases where the new knowledge management system critically depends on such resources. Through RBV, managers can identify technological resource deficiencies that could hinder the successful use of the system.

Other Considerations in Knowledge Management Systems Design and Evaluation

Various factors affect the development of a knowledge management system in an organization. These factors can be used as criteria for the design or evaluation of the system. These factors affect other components or aspects of the organization, as well. Thus, the knowledge management system design must incorporate variables that represent these other components or aspects.

The success of knowledge management could also depend on organizational changes, such as when the organization is in the process of becoming a learning organization. In these transitions, a suitable vision of the organization’s future helps in integrating factors and variables into the knowledge management system, when these factors and variables are yet to be implemented in the organization. Thus, organizational change must be considered in the design and evaluation of these systems.


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