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Managing information about a product through its lifecycle

I am trying to put together a framework for a knowledge management solution that will capture, manage, deliver and archive information about a product as it goes through its lifecycle. Any ideas or suggestions?

I am trying to put together a framework for a knowledge management solution that will capture, manage, deliver and archive information about a product as it goes through its lifecycle. Any ideas or suggestions?
Thank you for the question. Your question is a great one, as it goes directly to the heart of what I believe is an important topic: providing the right solution based on the type of information that is being managed. There is no one-size-fits-all solution or we would all be driving black Ford cars…Remember the famous Ford quote, "You can have any color you like so long as it is black." That statement was true quickly after it was said, and it is not true now for managing information. The answer to your question isn't an easy one, as there are many questions that need to be answered before I can propose a possible solution:
  1. First, what kind of information are you trying to manage? The reason that I ask this question is that the type of information defines the solution that is needed to manage it. The solutions that are currently available can work with a variety of information types, form structured information such as electronic records within a database, to semi-structured, which is usually contained in electronic communication records such as e-mail, and finally unstructured, which is usually saved for end-user created documents whether paper or electronic. Each of these information types has different management challenges and information owners based on the organizations goals.

  2. Is your company a relatively new company or an older company, say 3-5 years old or older?

  3. How much information are you trying to manage?

  4. What are your goals for the information?

  5. Is your company required to adhere to any governmental regulations? Is it a public company, involved in financial transactions (a bank or financial institution) or does it provide patient care? If the answer is yes to any of these questions, you need to consider the specific regulations that apply to your company, such as SOX, HIPAA, SEC-17a4 and many others. Each of these regulations requires that information be treated in a certain immutable way for a specific period of time.
You used the term "knowledge management system," which implies that you are looking to share the information that is maintained with a larger group that needs access to the information to complete their job function within the organization. If this is correct, then I would suggest that you look at Enterprise Content Management (ECM) systems that enable you to gather information from divergent sources using either connectors/platform adapters. These programs allow access to information repositories contained in other programs, such as databases, as well as collecting new information and categorizing it according to its relationship with other information. These content repositories become the index for others to gain access to information. Many of the leading ECM systems are integrated with infrastructure solutions to allow you to manage the information based on its value to the organization and reduce the risk, cost and complexity of that information as you see fit -- meeting the goals of the organization along the way.

Let me know if my answer and comments helped you make some choices.

This was last published in March 2006

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