One of the most important effects of the creation of knowledge centres within the enterprise is an improvement in planning, monitoring and overall productivity. This clear organizational division of operating responsibilities enables the enterprise to drive the introduction of new software solutions and practices over a period of time, as expertise builds within each individual centre.
The alignment of software with each knowledge centre has a number of significant advantages:
Authority/ responsibility. The introduction of a knowledge centre based software alignment reinforces decisions on authority and responsibility within the enterprise.
Team building. Software systems become part of the fabric of group work and group decision making.
Control. The effective organization of data and its greater immediacy provides improved control and identifies trends more easily. It reduces the tendency to react rather than interact. The use of boundary conditions simplifies management by exception and the implementation of contingency plans. Many software systems provide for automatic notification if certain targets are reached or exceeded, improving the speed and effectiveness of contingency planning.
Objectivity. Data based decisions improve the quality of action plans within the enterprise.
Productivity. Well integrated software will significantly enhance productivity, providing the enterprise with an easy method of scaling operations without increases in manpower.
Skills. The creation of linkage within the knowledge centres helps in defining some of the induction, maintenance and development requirements within overall training plans.
MIS. Software provides the bedrock of the management information system, providing real time data and comparisons with plan and previous performance levels.
Audit. The use of software improves the potential to audit particular activities within the enterprise and maintain a record of actions and decisions.
Integration with SOP. Software alignment is central to building more effective standard operating procedures. The integration of the two is a further step towards the creation of full expert systems within the enterprise.
Understanding. The introduction of software improves operational understanding, especially the importance of trade-offs within the enterprise.
Communication. Software systems provide an excellent communication system as part of an Intranet, with team members being able to identify the position of projects and client/ supplier activity.
Speed. Software systems provide the enterprise with early identification of trends and opportunities and the ability to respond to them more rapidly than with traditional systems, enhancing competitive advantage as part of time based competition (TBC).
Cost. Software decisions may add significantly to the fixed costs of the enterprise. There is an overwhelming argument that any software investment should be treated as a full blown project with risk assessment, tasks, timelines and milestones.
Standardisation. Making knowledge centres responsible for the choice and implementation of software solutions creates a problem of standardization within the enterprise, especially where there are variety of SBU’s spread both nationally and internationally.
Information overload. The power of software to store and generate complex and often confusing data will tend to drive information overload. A focus on key performance indicators within each knowledge centre will reduce this trend; enabling the team to analyse underlying data when and only when it is necessary.
Data security. Each item of software needs to be reviewed to ensure that appropriate data security can be achieved.
GIGO. The quality of the data used is crucial for the value of any analysis, especially as there is a natural tendency to over-value the accuracy of computer driven results.
NIH. Knowledge is power; power tends to be poorly shared.
Temporary staff. As the enterprise increases its reliance on software the ability of temporary staff to be productive will continue to decline.
General software applications for all knowledge centres:
Office systems (spreadsheet, text, e-mail, database, notes)
Knowledge centre based software solutions:
Health and safety
Vehicle fleet management
Distant data capture
Activity based costing
Marketing / sales:
New product/service development