IMPROVING THE KNOWLEDGE MANAGEMENT SYSTEM

Undergraduate

Summary

Knowledge management is a term widely used in companies working in the field where knowledge is a main component. Match Maker Associates (MMA) is a consulting company working resilient on the Tanzanian market, and cooperating with other consulting companies all over the world. MMA’s aim is to work faster and better with respect to knowledge use. The problem at MMA is the lack of a proper filling system and Knowledge Management System (KMS).

 

As a small consulting company in Tanzania, MMA must work with inconveniences appearing in Developing Countries, like a poor infrastructure and lower level of technology. However, MMA consultants are well-qualified workers, willing to change and develop their company. The IT improvements are a necessity and must be done together with additional training. The organizational structure at MMA must be changed into a decentralized one, to support the

activities. 

 

Due to the fact, that MMA consultants are well qualified, the introduction of the new KM system requires a well-designed proposal, according to which the company works more efficient and effective. However, consultants are often avoiding changes, so the introduction of the KMS must consist of the employees behaviour changes as well (Feher, 2004). There are plenty of new IT solutions that help companies with storing and sharing of knowledge. MMA has good IT specialists, who are willing to help with those new IT solutions. A very popular one is e-learning (Fernandez, 2004; Marvick, 2001; Łobejko, 2004), qualified as one of the best ways of training, what should be given by MMA consultants. 

 

The proposals how to work out sharing and storing of knowledge are presented in the four pillars of knowledge by Stankosky [2001]. Small consulting companies usually have many problems with the organizational structure (Feher, 2004). The proper implementation of the new KMS allows to re-design the current organizational structure (only if such exists), which is the final part of KMS (Stankosky, 2001). Decentralization makes it possible to have a division of tasks. By introducing decentralization, consultants have more time to execute their assignments faster and more efficient.

 

The introduction of the new way of working should be done as soon as possible, in order to assist the changes within MMA. The implementation of the new KMS must consists of the following steps: the organization environment, strategic goals, KM pillars, organization structure, final KMS version. The recognition of the organization environment is seen as an input. The current use of knowledge and knowledge transformation leads to efficient use of tacit and explicit knowledge. Moreover, it shows how knowledge is extracted and passed on the environment. The strategic objectives have been specified in the field of knowledge. Other companies were visited in order to find the best solution for the new KMS. The results were compared with MMA preferences and possibilities. The KM pillars, the third step of KMS implementation, required a deep analysis of leadership, organization, technology and learning. The proposals regarding the KM pillars help to balance and integrate an enterprise issues.

Finally the designed in the behavioural aspects and social engineering structure of the new

KMS showed the possibilities of improvements within the system. The output is the new KMS, which will bring the efficiency, effectiveness and innovation at MMA. 

 

One of the biggest problems for MMA is the new IT solution. The conditions of the Tanzanian IT market limit the possibilities of dealing with that problem. However, the specialists know the most suitable technology. The new KMS supporting filling, sharing and storing of knowledge must be introduced just after realizing the needed change in the worker’s behaviour. IT specialists must assist the new IT proposals. They should make a special training for the consultants, in order to make full use of it. The proposed solution for storing and sharing knowledge is a part of the new KMS and must be done with IT specialists. They will adjust it to the consultants’ wishes. This system requires new software, and a number of prerequisites (like buying licenses, new hardware, involving IT specialists, getting trainings in the field of IT), should be met. Moreover, consultants must subscribe for the thematic magazines, to get the newest ideas about the industry sectors. Other employees should present other activities related to knowledge sharing, in order to give the senior consultants more time for executing assignments. The successful implementation of the useful system of knowledge management must be according to MMA consultants’ wishes and

supported by IT specialist. 

Designing the organization structure must be done at the very end. The decentralized structure allows dividing tasks among workers. It leaves the senior consultants the main activities to do.

MMA directors should employ a secretary, who can be also a bookkeeper, and will be responsible for all activities regarding sharing knowledge, accountancy and meetings.       

A new, improved Knowledge Management System (KMS) will bring a faster decision making process, better usage of time, and efficient and effective use of knowledge. Moreover, the introduction of the KMS will improve the communication between workers, enable faster response to new business issues and reduce costs of making researches. MMA consultants will surely work better after adapting the new KMS at the company.


 BACKGROUND AND

OBJECTIVE OF THE STUDY

 

Small consulting companies have huge influence on the market in the developing countries, through improving and developing business. Because of the expensiveness, consulting corporations stay usually beyond reach of the beginning businesspersons. This niche of small, new companies is approached by small consulting companies, which pay attention to the needs of emerging businesses. An example of such consulting company is Match Makers Associates (MMA), operating on the Tanzanian market where new businesses appear frequently. 

 

Match Maker Associates Limited (MMA) is a private limited company based in Tanzania striving to develop and manage a centre of excellence in private sector development and business services consultancy. Its clients vary from private, public and donor organizations involved in private and/or small enterprise development mainly in East and Southern Africa. MMA runs two offices, one in Arusha in the North East Tanzania and another one in Dar Es Salaam, the country business capital and on the coast of the Indian Ocean.

 

The directors of MMA have a broad experience especially in working with projects in small enterprises. They undertake also large projects in countries like Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe. MMA offers a broad range of services, including development of private sector, its management and evaluation, analysis of value chain, and business development services. Moreover, MMA helps with mobilizing funds for joint ventures, new businesses in small enterprises sector and promoting and sharing knowledge from best practice. Therefore, the object of MMA is three folded:

1.      MMA delivers applicable and adaptable methodologies in value chain development. 

2.      MMA operates in a network of professional consultants of high standards and

integrity. 

3.      MMA acknowledges and promotes mutual learning

Because of working on projects, MMA has an excellent knowledge in applying such methodologies like: the market linkages approach, the credit guarantee mechanism through commercial banks, economic mapping and sub sector analyses. Since two years, MMA is specializing in value chain development.  

MMA consultants are currently occupied by assignments and have limited time to sort out in-house knowledge management and operational issues. These issues exist since knowledge is relative chaotic and especially to a large degree a context-bound factor, that is difficult to organize due to its characteristics. MMA directors strongly believe that a proper filing system will be instrumental for upgrading the possessed knowledge in the company. This filing system can then be used to provide easy access to all the data available in the company. This data consists not only of internal reports in the areas of sub sector selection, sub sector analysis and value chain development, but also of general information like demographic, socioeconomic and regulatory information. 

 

Small consulting companies working in less developed markets need a proper Knowledge Management System (KMS) that will help with the effective and efficient use of possessed information and knowledge. Well-developed systems will bring a company a competitive position, reduce the time of executing an assignment, broaden the sources of knowledge and adjust the company to the prevailing market situation. Proper transformation of tacit and explicit knowledge helps consulting companies with improvement of their KMS and emphasizes different sources of knowledge (tacit, explicit, implicit knowledge).   

 

MMA faces difficulties with the storing and sharing knowledge, tacit and explicit knowledge transformation and the limited time which consultants can put into an assignment. Therefore MMA wants to improve its activities by exploring the possibilities of improving the existing KMS. Those problems bring me to the following objective for my research:

 

The objective of my research is to explore how consulting companies, like Match Makers Associates Ltd. can improve the Knowledge Management System in order to enable them to perform better.

 

Problem definition

 

In this part of my research plan I need to take into consideration several things. The objective of my study can be characterized as both strategic and operational. Moreover, MMA has already some kind of tacit and explicit knowledge. Improving the Knowledge Management System (KMS) should be based on the existing problems and possibilities. A successful improvement of KMS will have to be guided by a well-detailed plan. Next to that, it is also possible that the way of working of MMA has to be reshaped to better fit to the KMS requirements.