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This "We Gave Them a Tool, but Hardly Anyone's Using It! Untangling the Knowledge Management Dilemma at TPA" case study focuses on the use of Knowledge Management strategies, specifically the one for the Technology Project Authority (TPA) company. For TPA, the implementation of KM strategies has not been easy, the company has gone through different phases regarding this matter, and adjustments have been made over time. What are the suggested approaches to solving the issues?
Alina Dulipovici and Ann-Frances Cameron
Harvard Business Review (HEC037-PDF-ENG)
September 10, 2012
Case questions answered:
- Explain TPA’s Knowledge Management Phases.
- Which were the main points of the last meeting for the SharePoint Project Committee?
- What are the general characteristics of the organizational environment at TPA?
- What are the suggested approaches to solving the issues?
- Describe TPA’s tactic knowledge.
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We Gave Them a Tool, but Hardly Anyone's Using It! Untangling the Knowledge Management Dilemma at TPA Case Answers
Introduction – We Gave Them a Tool, but Hardly Anyone’s Using It! Untangling the Knowledge Management Dilemma at TPA Case Study
This “We Gave Them a Tool, but Hardly Anyone’s Using It! Untangling the Knowledge Management Dilemma at TPA” case study focuses on the use of Knowledge Management strategies, specifically the one for the Technology Project Authority (TPA) company.
Knowledge Management (KM) “is a discipline that promotes an integrated approach to identifying, capturing, evaluating, retrieving, and sharing all of an enterprise’s information assets, including databases, documents, policies, and procedures” (KMWorld, 2018).
The case revolves around the adoption of a new KM system in the TPA company that is based on Microsoft Project Server together with SharePoint Server, and the case main character is Rita Carson. She is the leading Director for the IT department of the company.
As stated in the case, to better provide services to citizens and employees of the state, the State Governor mandated the initiation of a statewide goal in the year 2000 concerning cross-agency collaboration. It seeks to bring agencies together by sharing information and resources; this goal was meant to enhance the efficiency of services provided across governmental agencies.
In addition, the State Governor had also appointed TPA in charge of promoting these ideas and these types of collaboration and information sharing. As a result, TPA is trying to adopt its new and innovative KM system.
In reality, though, TPA practiced minimal knowledge and information sharing even within their own company. Rita was worried about setting the proper example to other agencies and promoting collaboration when not even her own company was complying with these requests.
Although Rita had reports from back when the implementation started in 2006 stating that over 98% of managers and employees understood the importance of this system, a year later, her reports stated that only 12% of managers and teams used the SharePoint System. Ms. Carson was then determined to find the explanation for these outcomes to find solutions for this issue.
TPA’s Knowledge Management Phases
For TPA, the implementation of KM strategies has not been easy, the company has gone through different phases regarding this matter, and adjustments have been made over time.
Phase one started back in 2001 when the decision to improve KM was made, and it extended to 2004 when the decision to adopt a formal approach to KM was made. This face was known as “The seeds of a formal knowledge management approach.”
This whole process at the TPA company started by establishing a list of collaboration opportunities in order to reduce unnecessary spending and inefficiencies.
Different tools, including emails, instant messages, discussion forums, etc., were available to employees to make these happen, but the results were far from expected. Although some people were able to recognize potential savings, others found no use for this. Instead, they felt like they were experiencing a loss of ownership, so the majority of employees of the divisions did not put the right effort to include KM activities in their daily routines.
Due to this reason, in 2004, the company felt forced to formalize the Knowledge Management initiative and the position of Knowledge Manager was given to Bob Archer. He used to be Executive Project Manager in the Project Planning Division. With this new title, Mr. Archer’s new responsibilities included promoting the efforts to collaborate in all three divisions of the company to achieve so.
At the time, the main electronic depository was the share drive, but team members were later unhappy with this method. Bob recommended the company change it to a more effective system that would be less challenging and satisfy team members. By this point, it was obvious that a company needed to move on to a new phase of the process to achieve its desired outcomes.
Phase two quickly came along. This phase started in 2005 when Rita was appointed to manage the implementation of Microsoft SharePoint Services. SharePoint is a platform for document sharing and collaboration that supports KM activities. Its benefits included different document versions, alerts, task monitoring, and many others. That is why TPA expected SharePoint to be a great hit. Still, again teams were not adapting to it.
Divisions were complaining, and the access to the SharePoint website and double entries presented problems for employees. At this point, Mr. Archer once again realized that change was necessary since SharePoint was not the KM system adequate to fit TPA’s needs.
He also stated that the company and the teams needed to examine their current needs to decide which would be the best technology and KM system to satisfy their needs and benefit the company.
Phase three in this process was called Sharepoint Project. Listening to Mr. Archer’s suggestions, the company created a committee in charge of delivering a Knowledge Management system that would be appropriate for the organization.
The members of this committee were Rita, Bob, Andrew Collins, who was Director for the Project Planning Division, and Harry Linton, who was Director for the Operations Division.
This committee worked hard, and they developed a list that included all “must-have” functionalities in addition to the most needed tools.
Eventually, they came up with the idea of the Microsoft Project Server in alignment with SharePoint, called the SharePoint Project. This new system allowed for more detailed information on projects and automatically integrated data and other sources into the system.
Although the system was not entirely perfect, it tackled many aspects the company needed to satisfy its needs. This project offered many benefits to employees and teams. There were six training sessions required for all project managers and teams to understand the system and the positives it would provide fully.
But regardless of the high expectations for this system, it again failed to impress managers and teams. The program experienced…
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