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Knowledge Management

Knowledge Management can be defined as a range of practices and methodologies, which may or may not be based on technological solutions, that enable the identification, creation, representation, capture, search, sharing, and distribution of knowledge. Like Compliance Management, knowledge management is another universally nebulous concept where every proponent in business administration, information systems, management, and library and information sciences will give you a similar, but slightly contradictory, definition.

A Knowledge Management effort is generally undertaken by an organization looking to accomplish one or more organizational objectives, which may included efficiency and performance improvements, the establishment of a competitive advantage, intra-organizational information sharing, a continuous improvement initiative, service management, and talent management. Such efforts often overlap with change management efforts, organizational learning, and wide-spread retraining efforts.

The focus of the effort might take many forms, including:

  • technology-focussed
    where the organization institutes one or more technologies, such as a portal, social network, or customized knowledge management system, to try and improve knowledge capture, retention, and creation
  • process-focussed
    where the organization will institute knowledge management practices as part of its six sigma, lean, or process transformation projects
  • people-focussed
    where the organization will institute technology and practices designed to increase the interaction, knowledge sharing, and collective knowledge creation of its workforce, customers, suppliers, and/or partners

Done right, Knowledge Management can benefit every major practice area of the supply chain, including:

  • Strategic Sourcing
    A Knowledge Management system can capture market intelligence, category best practices, and should cost models that can help a buyer negotiate the best contract for the organization.
  • (e-)Procurement
    A Knowledge Management system can institutionalize best practices, training materials, and organizational policies for quick and easy access.
  • Inventory Management
    A Knowledge Management system can maintain historical trends, overhead calculations, and cost models that will allow an organization to determine the best inventory management solution for each category (vendor managed, third party, or in-house).
  • Compliance Management
    A Knowledge Management system can store, index, and allow for easy search and retrieval of the relevant information to your organization with regards to Sarbanes-Oxley and other financial reporting requirements; RoHS, WEEE, REACH, the ELV act and other product compliance requirements; the Mod-Act, NAFTA, and other import/export and free trade acts. This helps your organization to insure that you are meeting all financial, regulatory, and trade requirements in each activity you undertake.
  • Global Trade
    A Knowledge Management approach can help guide your employees through the many steps of the import process and the export process.
  • Sustainability and Corporate Social Responsibility
    A Knowledge Management system can keep track of initiatives, best practices, and optional reporting standards (which can raise your profile and brand in the marketplace).

For more insights into how Knowledge Management can benefit your supply chain, please see:


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