If the KM/knowledge services/archives connection is going to make sense (and perform as the critical element of enterprise management it is expected to be), we have to go back to the “why.”
What’s the reason behind a knowledge strategy that includes archives management? What are organizational expectations with respect to legacy content? Management expectations?
Four considerations apply:
1. Enterprise-wide awareness. Already mentioned (and sadly not given as much attention when we’re speaking about enterprise records and archives), the more people affiliated with the company know about what’s available to them, the more inclined they are to incorporate historical information into their work. It’s more facts and less guessing.
2. Legacy/historical record. All organizations must have a record of what’s gone before, if they are going to build on any enterprise success that has been achieved. And not to get into the legal requirements and the (appropriate, from most manager’s point of view) many regulations built into such laws as Sarbanes-Oxley and similar legal standards, it just makes good sense to know where you’ve been before you attempt to go forward. See # 4 below.
3. Impact/outcomes facility and ease of measurement. The old cliche is still valid: if you can’t measure it you can’t manage it. Not only does a knowledge services connection with archives management include measures against goals established for past activities; with a knowledge services – archives management link the organization can track prior input/output performance and connect it to outcomes and impacts, the very basis of effectiveness measurement. Without some measure of impact, any corporate program, project, or activity runs the risk of being simply an empty task. The new emphasis on organizational effectiveness is more than idealistic phraseology – it’s how we learn whether the enterprise is succeeding at what it’s been charged to do.
4. New knowledge creation – moving forward. This is the best part of being involved in knowledge services. No matter where you work in the organization or what your official role/title is, as a knowledge thought leader there are few more gratifying experiences than to see an idea or a concept grow into something new and different (and important) when past knowledge is accessed, re-thought, and applied to create new knowledge. It happens so often that we tend to take it for granted but – truth to tell – it’s why strategic knowledge specialists are so good at knowledge services. It’s why they succeed. There’s an enormous sense of professional pride in seeing how your specific work impacts corporate success.
Here’s an example: The company’s PR team needs to identify how a product, introduced 14 years ago, was re-designed and re-launched about four years after its first launch. Despite several corporate re-structures, organizational archives have (from the company’s early days) been considered an essential operational function. As a result, when specific content is required – such as documents describing the launch of a product (regardless of the time the launch occurred) there is a legacy record. Applying knowledge services gets the knowledge to those who have a current need. And likely, in this case, its re-use to develop new applications and knowledge.