Management of project knowledge at various maturity levels in PMO, a theoretical framework

Faculty of Science and Engineering, Queensland University of Technology

Dr Judy Matthews

QUT Business School, Queensland University of Technology

Professor Prasad Yarlagadda

Faculty of Science and Engineering, Queensland University of Technology

Abstract

Management of project knowledge is a critical factor for project success. The project management office (PMO) is a unit within organizations to centrally facilitate, manage, and control organizational projects for improving the rate of project success. Due to increasing interest of developing the PMO, the project management maturity model has been proposed to develop PMOs gradually. The project management maturity model contributes to the evolution of the PMO from immature to mature level through addressing appropriate project management practices. Despite the importance of project knowledge, this has not been extensively investigated in project environments. In addition, the existing project management maturity models not only do not address management of project knowledge, but they also recommend little criteria to assess the maturity of PMO from a knowledge management point of view. The absence of knowledge management discussion in current project management maturity models was defined as the subject of a research project in order to address knowledge management practices at various maturity levels of PMOs.

In order to address the mentioned gap, a framework has been developed based on the current discussions of both project management and knowledge management. The proposed framework comprises three premises: knowledge management processes and practices, project management maturity model, and knowledge management maturity model. The incorporation of knowledge management maturity model practices at various maturity levels of the PMO is one point of significance for developing this framework. It proposes numbers of knowledge management strategies, processes, and practices to address project knowledge management at various levels of the PMO. This framework shall be useful guidance for developing PMOs from a knowledge management perspective. In other words, it contributes to management of project knowledge as a key for project success. The proposed framework follows the process-based approach and it could be employed alongside the current project management maturity models for PMO development. This paper presents the developed framework, theoretical background, premises, proposed knowledge management practices, and processes to be employed in project-based organizations and PMOs. This framework has been examined in numbers of case studies with different maturity levels. The case studies outcomes, which will be subjects for future papers, have not shown any significant contradiction yet; however, more investigations are being conducted to validate the proposed framework.

Keywords: knowledge management, project management office, project-based organization, project management maturity model, knowledge management maturity model

Introduction

Knowledge is an organizational asset which comes from an individual’s mind, belief, or values, and it creates value for improving competitive advantages (Drucker, 1993). According to Davenport and Prusak (2000 ), knowledge is “a fluid mix of experiences, values, contextual information, and expert insights that provides a framework for evaluation and incorporating new experiences and information” (p. 5). Hence, knowledge entails the subsequent characteristics: 1) it is in people’s mind, so it cannot be easily transferred; 2) knowledge is a judgment based on individual beliefs, therefore it could be different from one person to another; 3) it is a vital element for creating new knowledge; 4) knowledge could be lost if it’s not properly transferred or captured; and 5) it is an important asset for organizations and their competitive advantages (Alavi & Leidner, 2001; Davenport, 1997).

People, technology and process are three core components of knowledge management at both functional and project-based organizations (Davenport & Prusak, 2000). From a process point of view, knowledge management is defined as “a systemic and organizationally specified process for acquiring, organizing and communicating both tacit and explicit knowledge of employees so that other employees may make use of it to be more effective and productive in their work”(Alavi & Leidner, 1999, p. 2) Knowledge management has been recognized as a critical factor for both organizational performance and project success (Alavi & Leidner, 1999; Koskinen & Pihlanto, 2008; Kotnour, 2000; Nonaka & Takeuchi, 1995). Due to the importance of knowledge management, numbers of studies have been conducted to address knowledge management in organizations. Since early 1990s, however, a few research studies have been undertaken to discuss knowledge management processes in project environments (Koskinen & Pihlanto, 2008). Knowledge management in functional organizations is not similar to project-based organizations since projects are temporary and team members are disbanded or leave after project completion (Kasvi, Vartiainen, & Hailikari, 2003). In other words, the temporary nature of projects imposes some issues, such as reparative activities, leaking of project knowledge, and reworks of projects and project-based organizations (Ajmal, Helo, & Kekale, 2010; Desouza & Evaristo, 2006; Kasvi et al., 2003; Koskinen & Pihlanto, 2008; Kotnour, 2000; Love, Irani, & Edwards, 2003).

On the other hand, studies claim that the employment of project management practices significantly impacts on delivering successful projects (Anbari, 2005; The Standish Group, 2003). According to the Standish Group (2003), the rate of project success increased 100 percent after using PM practices in the selected case studies. Due to increasing importance of project management practices, numbers of project management methodologies and standards have been developed to improve project performance. The project management office (PMO) is a unit or department within organizations to centrally facilitate, manage, and control organizational projects through developing and maintaining suitable processes and practices (Kerzner, 2009). The PMO has a significant role for improving the rate of project success through both establishing and developing project management practices (Santosus, 2003).

Project management maturity models have been proposed to address the development of the PMO in a consistent manner by which organizations could both establish proper project management practices and improve the culture of project management (Andersen & Jessen, 2003; Crawford, 2002). In other words, project management maturity models contribute to the evolution of the PMO from immature to mature level (Kerzner, 2005; Project Management Institute, 2008b). Despite the usefulness of current project management maturity models, there are some challenges yet to be addressed. According to Singh. Keil, and Kasi (2009), PMOs faced with more than thirty issues which are yet to be addressed. The management of project knowledge is one of the challenges which needs to get more attention from current project management maturity models. This means that existing project management maturity models do not contribute to assessing the maturity of the PMO from a knowledge management point of view, and they also do not address suitable knowledge management processes, procedures, or practices for various maturity levels of the PMO.

This paper aims to propose a theoretical framework to address knowledge management practices and processes at five maturity levels of PMOs. This framework is the first attempt to theoretically incorporate knowledge management maturity models in project management maturity models and also to develop a robust evidence-based framework to address knowledge management in project-based organizations (PBOs) (Rousseau, 2006). To do so, first a succinct discussion of the theoretical background will be presented. Second, the framework’s premises, key terms, and definitions will be discussed, and finally the proposed framework will be discussed through elaborating the theoretical and/or empirical underpinning of proposed relationships among developed components.

Theoretical Background

From a process point of view, knowledge management is defined as a systematic process of acquiring, capturing, communicating, and transferring knowledge of employees to increase their productivity and organizational competencies (Alavi & Leidner, 2001). A knowledge management model was proposed by Newman and Conrad (2000) in which four major processes: knowledge creation, retention, transfer, and utilization have been defined. The general knowledge model (GKM) comprises numbers of processes by which various types of knowledge are transformed from one state to another (Newman & Conrad, 2000). This model was adopted and developed by Owen and Burstein (2005) in the project environment. Owen and Burstein (2005) proposed four knowledge management processes: creating, capturing, transfer/sharing, and reusing In their study, knowledge retention and utilization have been changed, respectively, to knowledge capturing” and reusing, and they have kept both creation and transferring in their proposed knowledge management framework, which has been depicted in Figure 1 (Owen & Burstein, 2005).

Knowledge management process at a project-based organization (Owen, Burstein, & Mitchell, 2004)

Figure 1: Knowledge management process at a project-based organization (Owen, Burstein, & Mitchell, 2004).

This framework comprises four knowledge management processes that are interconnected. According to this model, knowledge is created through knowledge transferring, while knowledge is transferred by utilizing the captured knowledge. In addition, knowledge is captured from two processes: reusing and creation. This means that after creating knowledge a robust system is required to capture that knowledge in order to transfer it. Moreover, this model addresses that knowledge reusing is dependent on knowledge transferring and, ultimately, knowledge capturing. This means that if the knowledge capturing is not robust, then knowledge could not be properly transferred and reused. Also, transferring knowledge directly impacts knowledge creation. This knowledge process model has been examined in a number of studies in various project management contexts, and it is claimed that this knowledge process model is valid enough to be considered in any project environment (Morales-Arroyo, Chang, & De las Nievas Sánchez-Guerro, 2010). Due to its validity, this model was adopted as one of the research premises which will be discussed later.

A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK®Guide) and knowledge management

From the project management point of view, there are two other types of knowledge in project-based environments: 1) knowledge of project management and 2) knowledge of application area or domain knowledge (Kasvi et al., 2003; Project Management Institute, 2013). According to PMI (2013), project management practices address required knowledge of processes and procedures to manage project activities, while the domain knowledge pertains to the required technical knowledge which is necessary for carrying out the project. The project management knowledge is addressed by project management standards such as A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK® Guide) and PRINCE2, in which numbers of practices and processes are advised to be utilized during the project life cycle. Domain knowledge is the incorporation of specific technical knowledge to accomplish project activities. The knowledge and/or experience of integrating both knowledge of project management and domain knowledge are important factors to deliver a successful project (Kasvi et al., 2003; Koskinen & Pihlanto, 2008; Project Management Institute, 2013). In fact, project managers are responsible for integration of knowledge of project management and knowledge management by which the success of the project is increased (PRINCE2 Foundation, 2008; Project Management Institute, 2013). This means that successful project managers or, experienced project managers have the strong ability to collaborate project activities through utilizing both knowledge of project management and domain knowledge.

The PMBOK® Guide, as the adopted project management framework for this research, is reviewed and developed every four years and the latest version, the PMBOK® Guide – Fifth Edition, was published in 2013. The PMBOK® Guide – Fifth Edition comprises ten Knowledge Areas: 1) Project Integration Management, 2) Project Scope Management, 3) Project Time Management, 4) Project Cost Management, 5) Project Quality Management, 6) Project Human Resource Management, 7) Project Communications Management, 8) Project Risk Management, 9) Project Procurement Management , 10) Project Stakeholder Management; and five Process Groups: 1) Initiating, 2) Planning, 3) Executing, 4) Monitoring & Controlling, and 5) Closing. In total, there are 48 processes, and their associated objects, in the PMBOK® Guide assist project managers in adopting appropriate practices throughout various phases of undertaken projects (Project Management Institute, 2013). For instance, at the Initiating phase, the PMBOK® Guide – Fifth Edition recommends two processes: 1) developing the project charter, and 2) identifying stakeholders. The PMBOK® Guide – Fifth Edition also advises terminating these processes since their output will be output for other processes. For the other four phases, similarly, PMBOK® Guide – Fifth Edition advises using various processes and practices to address the knowledge of project management; however, domain knowledge is yet to be addressed to a large extent.

Knowledge is created from initial steps of the project to the closing phase (Reich & Wee, 2006). From a knowledge management point of view, a study was conducted to investigate all processes and practices in the PMBOK® Guide –Third Edition, in order to examine tacit and explicit dimensions of the existing knowledge objects (Reich & Wee, 2006). According to Reich and Wee (2006), in the PMBOK® Guide – Fourth Edition, 47 out of 48 knowledge objects deal with explicit knowledge, while only one object discusses management of tacit knowledge. This means that the PMBOK® Guide has a strong bias toward explicit knowledge through some recommendations for documentation of project knowledge. In other words, knowledge management practices and specifically the management of tacit knowledge are yet to be addressed in the PMBOK® Guide. Tacit knowledge is the crucial factor for successfully managing projects (Koskinen, Pihlanto, & Vanharanta, 2003). In addition, the ultimate aim of knowledge management is to transform the tacit knowledge to explicit knowledge; however, the PMBOK® Guide does not address this management of project knowledge (Alavi & Leidner, 2001; Reich & Wee, 2006). Table 1 summarizes and illustrates the PMBOK® Guide’s processes from a knowledge management perspective.

Table 1: Knowledge management objects of the PMBOK® Guide (Reich & Wee, 2006)

Type Count Explanation
Total processes 44 The PMBOK® Guide – Fourth Edition comprises 44 processes which contains 70 unique inputs and outputs. (Recently in the fifth edition, four more processes have been included)
Knowledge objects 48 48 out of 70 input/outputs deal with knowledge management
Explicit/Tacit knowledge 47/1 The majority of knowledge objects are explicit. There is only one object, enterprise environmental factor, that contains tacit knowledge
Processes deal with tacit knowledge management 19 19 out of 44 processes are related to tacit knowledge management and they are mainly referring to “expert judgment”

As shown in this table “expert judgment” is advised to be used as a tool in 19 out of 44 processes in the PMBOK® Guide. This tool is a method to elicit a subject matter expert’s (SME) idea about specific issues in which he/she uses tacit knowledge to give an output. In other words, this is a tool for creating and/or transferring knowledge through utilizing the SME’s knowledge (Nonaka & Teece, 2001; Wiig, 1997b). However, the PMBOK® Guide has not properly discussed “expert judgment” as a means for managing tacit knowledge (Reich & Wee, 2006). From analyzing both current literature and the PMBOK® Guide, it could be inferred that the major focus of the PMBOK® Guide, from a knowledge management perspective, is to manage the explicit knowledge, while tacit knowledge is yet to be properly addressed (Project Management Institute, 2008a, 2013; Reich & Wee, 2006).

Methods of transforming tacit knowledge to explicit knowledge

It is generally accepted that the proper utilization of tacit knowledge can be the key for project success, and this is the main reason for PBOs to articulate it as explicit knowledge (Goffin, Koners, Baxter, & Van der Hoven, 2010; Koskinen et al., 2003; Teerajetgul & Chareonngam, 2008). Therefore, PBOs are keen to develop a comprehensive system to assist them with discovering tacit knowledge, and then converting it to accessible knowledge. In order to develop such a system, both the existing project management competencies in PBOs, and organizational cultures could facilitate the development of knowledge management practices within PBOs (Ajmal & Koskinen, 2008; Davidson & Jillian, 2009). This means that two major factors should be considered in this regard: 1) The maturity level of the PBO from the project management point of view, and 2) the culture of proposed organization from the knowledge management perspective.

Moreover, understanding the characteristics of tacit and explicit knowledge is another important factor for establishing effective practices by which tacit knowledge can be transformed to explicit knowledge (Goffin et al., 2010; Koskinen et al., 2003; Reich & Wee, 2006). This means that tacit and explicit knowledge reside in various types of practices in a project management environment, and appropriate knowledge management practices are required to facilitate this transformation. In order to address tacit knowledge in projects, a research study was conducted to investigate various formats and states of both tacit and explicit knowledge in PBOs (Srikantaiah, Koenig, & Al-Hawamdeh, 2010). This study proposes numbers of practices for transforming tacit knowledge to explicit knowledge that have been presented in Table 2.

Table 2: Knowledge types in project context (Srikantaiah et al., 2010)

Tacit knowledge exists in Explicit knowledge resides in Methods of transforming Tacit knowledge to explicit

Face to face communication -formal and/or informal

Telephone conversation -formal and/or informal

Virtual communication

Presentations and video conferences

Mentoring and coaching

Study tours

Training

Client knowledge

Best practices

Publications and books

Internal records

Sound/video recording

Map and graphical material

Data warehouses

E-mails

Internet

Intranet

Self-study materials

Newsletters

Groupware

Formal and informal meetings, networking

Developing community of practices

Interviews and videotaping

Subject matter experts directories and/or yellow page

Knowledge/information repositories

After action review/ project milestone review

Mentoring programs

Knowledge maps

Requiring strategies

Retention strategies

In order to implement and develop these practices, different levels of capabilities are required (Srikantaiah et al., 2010). In other words, the development of proposed knowledge management practices depends on a number of factors such as organizational culture, individuals’ behavior, current systems and processes, and existing information technology infrastructure (Alavi & Leidner, 2001; Christensen & Bang, 2003; Desouza, 2006; Diakoulakis, Georgopoulos, Koulouriotis, & Emiris, 2004). This means that organizational readiness is a critical factor for successfully implementing such a knowledge management system (Davidson & Jillian, 2009). The capability maturity model integration (CMMI) is an accepted approach to gradually improve organizational readiness from a process point of view (Kulpa & Johnson, 2008). In general, CMMI addresses the development of processes through considering organizational satiation and capabilities (Kulpa & Johnson, 2008). The project management maturity model is a methodology to address the development of project management practices through following the CMMI approach (Jugdev & Thomas, 2002; Kerzner, 2005).

Project management maturity models

Project management is the application of knowledge, skills, tools, and techniques to meet project objectives (Project Management Institute, 2008a). The project management office (PMO) is a relatively recent function in organizations to develop, oversee, and maintain project management activities (Project Management Institute, 2013). The development of a PMO significantly affects and is affected by organizational strategies, structures, and culture (Kerzner, 2013). Project management maturity models have been proposed to establish and develop the PMO (Kerzner, 2005). A number of project management maturity models have been developed to address associated practices to establish the PMO such as, the Organizational Project Management Maturity Model (OPM3®), Portfolio Program Project Management Maturity Model (P3M3), and 3) Kerzner’s project management maturity model. OPM3® is a process-based methodology to institutionalize and develop project management practice within PBOs (Project Management Institute, 2008b). Kerzner’s project management maturity model follows capability maturity model integration approach to address the development of PMBOK® Guide in PBOs in five levels of maturity : 1) common language; 2) common process; 3) singular methodology; 4) benchmarking; and 5) continuous improvement (Kerzner, 2005, 2013). The need for project management is the main initiative in this model for utilizing the maturity model, and it could be continued to reach the fifth level of maturity where PBOs’ projects are being interrelated to organizational strategies (Kerzner, 2005). This framework will be discussed in the following section.

Kerzner’s project management maturity model

The Kerzner’s project management maturity model proposes a step by step methodology to address the specific processes and procedure at each level of maturity in which there is an ultimate objective for each level. As shown in Figure 2, the first level of maturity, which is called “common language,” the importance of project management has been raised and, also, the need for developing a common language for project management among project team members is becoming obvious. In other words, project team members do not share the same jargon to be understood by others, and there is no project management methodology in place to address basic processes of managing projects. This means that projects: 1) are hero driven, 2) do not follow a certain method, and 3) are faced with a number of challenges (Kerzner, 2005).

Kerzners’s Maturity Level (2005)

Figure 2: Kerzners’s Maturity Level (2005)

After implementing and developing basic project management processes which are utilized by project team members as a common language, the maturity of PBO is elevated to level two or “Common Process.” At this level, there are some basic processes to address fundamental project management practices, such as time and cost management, for managing project activities. Also, senior managers have realized the importance of project management so they support the development of the PMO to reach upper level maturity (Kerzner, 2005).

At the third maturity level, a comprehensive project management methodology should be utilized as the “Singular Methodology” among all project team members. This means that the PMO has developed the previous project management standard to the level by which both basic and some advanced project management practices have been properly addressed. In other words, PBOs have reached the level that: 1) all utilized project management practices have been integrated at one project management standard; 2) all various project management methodologies have been combined in one organizational-wide project management methodologies; 3) project team members actively adhere to the developed project management standard (Kerzner, 2005).

At the “Benchmarking” stage, fourth level, the focus is to both improve the current project management processes and, ultimately, address all knowledge areas of PMBOK® Guide – Fifth Edition. This means that PBOs have achieved a level in which all project management processes have been integrated at the organizational level and, therefore, projects could be interrelated to organizational strategies (Kerzner, 2005). And eventually, fifth level is called “Continuous Improvement” in which the project management methodology is continuously improved through “benchmarking information,” and the main focus of this is to enhance the organizational competitive advantages (Kerzner, 2005).

In summary, Kerzner’s project management maturity model addresses various project management practices at different levels of maturity by which PBOs could both develop the basic requirements for the specific level and prepare prerequisites to achieve the next level of maturity. It also comprises a number of criteria to dynamically assess the quality of project management. The aim of utilizing the Kerzner’s project management maturity model project management maturity model is to develop the organizational capabilities and culture in order to incorporate project management practices into organizational processes and procedures (Kerzner, 2005). In addition, project management matuirty model is a road map to address practices, based upon the status of project management functionality, for enhancing organizational competencies from a project management point of view. However, this framework, similar to other project management maturity models, is yet to be addressed from the knowledge management perceptive.

Knowledge management maturity model

Knowledge is a crucial factor to successfully undertake projects (Kasvi et al., 2003; Koskinen & Pihlanto, 2008). This means that the success of a project is dependent on proper knowledge management, from initiation to closing. Knowledge management system is an important part of organizational systems to centrally manage both individuals and organizations’ knowledge (Alavi & Leidner, 1999). A proper knowledge management system comprises integrated processes, practices, procedures, and applications (Alavi & Leidner, 2001; Davenport, 1997; Wiig, 1997a). In order to develop a knowledge management system, a number of factors and requirements such as organizational capacities, capabilities, culture, and process assets should to be considered (Davenport & Prusak, 2000; Wiig, 1997b). In other words, for developing a knowledge management system organizations should adopt a certain methodology to: 1) provide prerequisites, 2) prepare fundamental steps, 3) improve organizational culture, 4) reduce individual resistance, and 5) gradually develop the knowledge management system through a step by step approach (Alavi & Leidner, 2001; Davidson & Jillian, 2009; Rubenstein-Montano, Liebowitz, Buchwalter, McCaw, Newman, & Rebeck, 2001). The knowledge management maturity model is an accepted method to progressively develop a knowledge management system through addressing proper practices and processes (Feng, 2006; Kankanhalli & Pee, 2009). It contributes to the improvement of knowledge management activities through both formulating the development of a knowledge management system and assessing the effectiveness of existing knowledge management activities (Feng, 2006).

Similar to project management maturity model there are numbers of proposed knowledge management maturity models in the existing literature in which they could be adopted and followed for undertaking the development of a knowledge management system (Desouza, 2006; Feng, 2006; Hsieh, Lin, & Lin, 2009). A study was conducted by Feng (2006) to compare current knowledge management maturity models and then develop a comprehensive knowledge management maturity model by which three criteria were discussed to explain the existing differences among current knowledge management maturity models: 1) objectives to be attained at each maturity level; 2) knowledge management practices and processes; and 3) knowledge management enablers in which organizations should choose proper knowledge management maturity models with regards to their preferences. This means that three practices are recommended to be considered before adopting any knowledge management maturity model. At first, the objective of developing such a system should be defined as the ultimate aim to reach a specific level of maturity. Second, a set of processes and practices are required for satisfying the determined criteria. Knowledge management processes comprise a number of practices by which inputs, such as tacit or explicit knowledge, create some outputs, such as explicit knowledge, through utilizing certain tools and techniques. Third, enablers are those tools, technologies, or systems which both facilitate the knowledge management processes and contribute to objective satisfaction.

An integrated knowledge management maturity model was developed by Feng (2006) to address the development of knowledge management system five levels of maturity, which are shown in Table 3. In the proposed framework, four knowledge management processes: creation, storage, sharing, and application, have been discussed by which appropriate practices to support each knowledge management process have been addressed at five levels of maturity. This model discusses the improvement of the knowledge management system through: 1) defining the objective for each level of maturity and expectations from a knowledge management point of view; 2) proposing appropriate knowledge management practices that should satisfy associated processes; 3) addressing proper tools and enablers to support each knowledge management process; 4) illustrating the required structure at each level of maturity; and 5) proposing criteria to assess the maturity level (Feng, 2006). In addition, two types of enablers are discussed in this model, i.e. structure, and science and technology. Organizational structure plays an important role for managing knowledge; hence, certain requirements should be met to achieve each level of maturity. For instance, at the third level of maturity, it is recommended to develop a knowledge management unit within the organizational structure for taking on the responsibilities of knowledge management. Also, science and technology are introduced as crucial enablers for knowledge management systems, specifically at upper levels, by which knowledge management is facilitated and elevated (Feng, 2006). In this framework, the first three levels of maturity are the most important stages for preparing a robust knowledge management system, while the fourth and fifth levels focus on both improving and maintaining the previous levels achievements through developing some systems and practices for auditing and measuring the performance the knowledge management system. This framework has been examined and then developed by Feng (2006) for organizations such as a commercial bank and a governmental organization., In addition, it is believed that this framework could be utilized as a reliable benchmark for developing an organizational knowledge management system (Feng, 2006). However, this knowledge management maturity model has not been investigated in any PBOs, specifically in the PMO, to the best knowledge of researchers. As discussed earlier, the aim of this paper is to present a framework to address knowledge management practices at each maturity level of PMOs; hence, the knowledge management maturity model was mentioned to develop the theoretical framework to address the knowledge management in project management maturity model.

In summary, knowledge management has not been properly addressed in project management maturity models; therefore, a framework is needed to address how knowledge management practices will improve the productivity in PBOs and PMOs. In addition, the existing project management maturity models do not address knowledge management practices, and the current knowledge management maturity models have not been examined in the PBO. Furthermore, there has not been any attempt to integrate project management maturity models and knowledge management maturity models together to propose a framework for addressing knowledge management practices at various levels of the project management maturity model. This paper aims to address the recognized gap through proposing a framework to address knowledge management practices at each maturity level of PMOs.

Table 3: Knowledge management maturity model (KMMM) (Feng, 2006)

KK Maturity KM Processes
Creation Storage Sharing Application
First level KMM

At this stage required preparation works are undertaken and KM processes and practices should be defined and planned

Initial activities and Enablers

SWOT analysis, feasibility study and requirements analysis

KM concepts definition, challenges against KM, KM evaluation for organization

Second level of KMM

Valuing knowledge creation

Respecting to the originality of knowledge.

Developing knowledge. documentation

Developing repository systems

Facilitating informal communication

Developing process to reuse existing knowledge

Enablers, tools, and systems

Learning tool

Plot assistant design

Simulation Software

Brain and thinking support systems

Electronic notice board

Document edit software

Database

Electronic notice board

Video conference meeting

Email and chat room

Interface design Software

Common initiatives, tools, and systems

Defining the concept of KM in practice

Developing Internet, Intranet and any types of networks in organization

Developing community of practices

Third level of KMM

Developing knowledge. creation strategies

Establishing formal knowledge creation

Developing processes for refining knowledge.

knowledge conformity check

Storing knowledge in a suitable place

Establishing and developing formal channels for sharing knowledge.

Education and training

Enhancing the security of knowledge sharing

Developing systems to support knowledge. application

Dividing the work areas to related functions

Enablers, tools, and systems

Data mining

Documentation Search

Knowledge detection tools

Idea implement assistant tools

Case-based reasoning systems

Pattern simulation

Data repository

Data storage

File management systems

Case-based reasoning systems

FAQ

Work process systems

Expert systems

Search engine

Knowledge list

Knowledge map

Content-based original search

Online learning systems

Expert yellow page

Expert training systems

Seminar and workshops

Expert systems

Work process systems

Online prompt analysis

Decision support systems

Common initiatives, tools, and systems

Establishing a unit to take the responsibility and accountability of KM

Systematically supporting KM

Establishing and developing standard for KM

Developing KM sub processes

Fourth level of KMM

Developing the knowledge creating sub-processes

Developing the knowledge storage sub-processes

Developing the knowledge sharing sub-processes

Developing knowledge application sub-processes

Enablers, tools, and systems

Measuring the knowledge creating success

Measuring the knowledge storage success

Measuring the knowledge sharing success

Measuring the knowledge application success

Common initiatives, tools, and systems

Measuring the success of KM through indexes and critical success factor (CSF)

Measuring the success of KM sub-processes

Putting control in place for all KM processes and activities

Developing an audit unit for measuring the KM

Fifth level of KMM

Continuously improving the KM processes and procedures

Developing the KM control and audit systems and unit

Integrating the KM processes and procedures

Enablers, tools and systems

Developing a research unit in the KM department

Developing a Decision making unit in the KM department

Conceptual Framework Premises

After thoroughly studying the current literature, eight types of knowledge have been chosen in the research framework: 1) project management knowledge; 2) knowledge about processes/procedures; 3) technical knowledge; 4) knowledge about clients; 5) costing knowledge; 6) legal and statutory knowledge; 7) knowledge about the supplier; and 8) knowledge of who knows what (Kasten, 2010; Koskinen et al., 2003; Lytras, Pouloudi, & Poulymenakou, 2002; Project Management Institute, 2013). This classification of knowledge is part of the theoretical framework which is being examined in selected case studies in order to analyze the importance of each type of knowledge at various maturity levels within PMOs. In addition, it was assumed that all forms of knowledge could have tacit or explicit dimensions. Table 4 depicts this classification and illustrates them, from the tacit and explicit point of view.

Table 4: Types of knowledge in research framework

Types of knowledge Tacit or Explicit knowledge
Project Management Knowledge (PMK) PMK is addressed in the standard (explicit) and also exists in the project manager’s experience (tacit), so it could be both tacit and explicit
Knowledge about Processes/proced ures Procedures and processes are generally are addressed through instructions and manuals, so, they are more explicit than tacit.
Technical Knowledge Technical knowledge could be found in text books; however, its application is important, which normally resides in people’s minds, so, we assume it is tacit knowledge.
Knowledge about Clients This type of knowledge is more tacit since it is not easy to codify all relations with clients.
Costing Knowledge Costing happens through documents so this type of knowledge is explicit.
Legal and Statutory Knowledge Documentation of laws and regulations is essential; therefore this knowledge is explicit and obtained through documents.
Knowledge about Supplier Similar to knowledge about the client, this type of knowledge is tacit.
Knowledge of Who Knows What If an organization has a good system to recognize and capture knowledge owners, it could be explicit, otherwise it is tacit

From a process point of view, the proposed knowledge management processes at PBOs by Owen et al. (2004), have been adopted in the research framework. As shown in Figure 3, it is assumed that there are four processes for managing knowledge: 1) creation; 2) capturing; 3) transferring; and 4) reusing. In addition, it is assumed that knowledge is generally created in PBOs but the first challenge is to capture current knowledge. This means that without proper knowledge capturing, knowledge reusing and transferring will be problematic. In other words, capturing knowledge should be the first priority for PBOs, especially at the lower level of maturity. Also, it is assumed that there is a strong relation between knowledge transferring and reusing. In the research framework, knowledge reusing will not be properly conducted without appropriate knowledge transferring. And finally, new knowledge is created through proper knowledge transferring.

Framework for knowledge management processes and sub-processes

Figure 3: Framework for knowledge management processes and sub-processes

Knowledge management practices are defined as methods, tools, or activities to support and facilitate knowledge management processes (Ajmal et al., 2010; Alavi & Leidner, 2001). Since knowledge management practices have various functionalities, their sub-processes were defined to interrelate practices to processes of knowledge management, as shown in Figure 4. In other words, knowledge management sub-processes connect similar knowledge management practices to knowledge management processes. Consequently, for each knowledge management process, specific practices were adopted by which knowledge management is facilitated and applied accordingly. In this framework, each knowledge management process entails some sub-processes by which knowledge management practices are correlated to the knowledge management process. For instance, knowledge capturing comprises four sub-processes: identification, storing, classification, and selection. On the other hand, knowledge identification has three practices: expert locators, Yellow pages, and knowledge detection tools. As it could be seen, the similar functionality of these three knowledge management practices convinced us to put them in same sub-process. It should be mentioned that development of this classification has been initiated through scrutinizing some of the current models proposed by Lytras and Pouloudi (2003) and Nissen, Kamel, and Sengupta (2000). In the following sections, each of the four processes and their associated sub-processes will be correlated to proposed knowledge management practices.

Knowledge management process and practices model

Figure 4: Knowledge management process and practices model

According to Nonaka and Takeuchi (1995), knowledge is created through four processes: socialization, externalization, combination, and internalization (SECI). In order to develop the knowledge creation framework, the SECI model was employed alongside the proposed knowledge management practices by Feng (2006) and Kankanhalli & Pee (2009). Eighteen knowledge management practices were recognized in the literature, which could be utilized for knowledge creation purposes in PBOs (Carrillo, 2005; Kidwell, Vander Linde, & Johnson, 2000; Love et al., 2003; Newell, Bresnen, Edelman, Scarbrough, & Swan, 2006). For instance, externalization is a sub-process to transform tacit to explicit knowledge. As Table 5 depicts, in total, seven practices have been proposed to support the externalization sub-process, such as expert judgment and workshops. These practices are proper methods or tools to elicit the individual’s mind and then properly capture knowledge in various accessible formats (Alavi & Leidner, 2001; Hoegl & Schulze, 2005; Kasvi et al., 2003). The proposed practices are being examined in selected case studies to explore: 1) what knowledge management practices are utilized at PMOs; 2) how they have been employed and developed; and 3) what the challenges of utilizing them are. So far, research findings have significantly supported this framework, but future papers will continue the discussion.

Table 5: Knowledge creation pratices in project enviroments

Knowledge Creation Sub Processes Proposed practices for Knowledge Creation
Socialization

• Informal events and conversations

• Formal face to face meeting

Externalization

• Workshops and seminar

• Deductive and inductive thinking

• Project debriefing

• Expert interview

• Expert judgment

• Experience report

• Use of metaphors

Combination

• Community of practices

• Project briefing

• Best practice cases

• Knowledge broker

• Data mining

• Documentation search

Internalization

• Research services

• Simulation

• Experimentation

According to the research framework, knowledge capturing comprises four sub-processes, as presented in Table 6. The recognized practices to support knowledge capturing were classified in four sub-processes: identification, storing, classification, and selection (Alavi & Leidner, 2001; Lytras et al., 2002; Owen & Burstein, 2005; Tan, Carrillo, Anumba, Kamara, & Udeaja, 2007). As presented in Table 6, in total, seventeen practices were adopted to support knowledge capturing and its associated sup-processes. These practices could be used for both measuring the maturity of the PMO from the knowledge management point of view and also could provide guidance to employ the appropriate process with regards to level of maturity.

Table 6: Knowledge capturing practices in project environment

Knowledge Capturing Sub Processes Proposed practices for Knowledge Capturing
Knowledge Identification

• Expert locator

• Knowledge detection tools

• Yellow pages

Knowledge Storing

• Knowledge repositories

• Data base

• Email

• Post project review

• Electronic notice board

• Wikis

• Lessons learned

Knowledge Classification

• Document management system (DMS)

• Project

• File management system

• Management information system(MIS)

• Frequently ask questions (FAQ)

Knowledge Selection

• Expert systems (ES)

• Decision support system (DSS)

In the research framework, two main sub-processes—i.e., knowledge distribution and forwarding, and knowledge sharing—have been defined for knowledge transferring. Fifteen practices have been adopted to facilitate both sub-processes and, ultimately, knowledge transfer, (Feng, 2006; Kankanhalli & Pee, 2009; Kasvi et al., 2003; Lytras & Pouloudi, 2003; Wiewiora, Liang, & Trigunarsyah, 2010). Table 7 shows the sub-process and their associated practices to support knowledge transferring.

Table 7: Knowledge transferring practices in the project enviroment

Knowledge Transferring Sub Processes Proposed practices for Knowledge Transferring
Knowledge Distribution and forwarding

• Electronic notice board

• Wikis

• Project bulletin and reports

• Email and chat room

• Knowledge list

• Video conference meeting

• Yellow pages

• Intranet

• Post project reports

Knowledge Sharing

• Knowledge map

• Online learning systems

• Seminar and workshops

• Formal and informal meetings

• Training

• Mentoring

For the knowledge reusing process, three sub-processes have been defined: adapting, applying, and integrating, in which each one comprises a number of practices. In total, eleven practices have been adopted in the research framework by which knowledge reusing is facilitated (Feng, 2006; Lytras & Pouloudi, 2003; Tan et al., 2007). As it can be seen in Table 8, some of the practices are similar to the practices that exist in knowledge transferring or capturing processes. This means that some of the recognized practices could contribute to more than one knowledge process, such as databases, Wiki, and the Intranet. In the analysis stage, this point will be considered and proper justification will be presented.

Table 8: Knowledge reusing practices in project environment

Knowledge Reusing Sub-Processes Proposed practices for Knowledge Reusing
Knowledge Adapting

• Electronic notice board

• Intranet

• Post project reports

• Wikis

• Yellow pages

• Knowledge detection tools

Knowledge Applying

• Decision support systems

• Expert systems

• After action review

Knowledge Integrating

• Knowledge map

• Data mining

In summary, the knowledge management framework comprises four knowledge management processes that have been classified to thirteen sub-processes in which they are supported by a number of knowledge management practices. This framework, as shown at Figure 3, represents assumed relationships among knowledge management practices, sub-processes, and processes. In addition, it addresses proper tools and practices to develop knowledge management systems in project environments. As mentioned earlier, this framework is being examined in a number of cases in which each case has a different level of maturity from the project management point of view. The result of the research and refined framework shall be published in future papers.

The Proposed Knowledge Management Frameworks in Project Management Maturity Model

The framework comprises two categories: 1) knowledge management practices and processes in the project life cycle; 2) the proposed knowledge management maturity model for each level of project management maturity models. The first category, which has been presented in Appendix A, is the integration of knowledge management practices, sub-processes, and processes in the four phases of the project life cycle: Initiation, Planning; Executing & Monitoring, and Closing, (Owen & Burstein, 2005; Owen et al., 2004). The second category is which presented in Table 9 and Table 10, is the developed framework to address the knowledge management practices and processes in five levels of maturity. This framework has been developed, after collaborating with the above mentioned components and assumptions. This unique framework is one of the original contributions to the existing project management body of knowledge. In other words, this is the first attempt at amalgamating three components: knowledge management processes and practices, project life cycle, and maturity level of PMOs.

According to this framework, four knowledge processes should be managed at the initiation, planning, and execution phases, while at the closing phase, only knowledge capturing should be employed in four phases of the project life cycle. With this framework, the level of maturity should be determined through current project management maturity models. To do so, Kerzner’s project management maturity model (2005, 2013) was adopted by which the current status of selected cases will be assessed. As discussed earlier, this project management maturity model has been proposed based upon the PMBOK® Guide – Fifth Edition and comprises five levels of maturity (Kerzner, 2005). Assessing PMO’s maturity level is one part of Kerzner’s project management maturity model by which current activities of the PMO is studied at the beginning of the case study investigation (Kerzner, 2005). Kerzner’s project management maturity model recommends some methods to assess the maturity level at which they are used to determine the maturity level of the PMO.

As discussed earlier, there are a number of knowledge management maturity models in the literature. In this paper, a customized knowledge management maturity model has been developed as shown in Table 9 and Table 10. The proposed knowledge management maturity model has two major contributions to the theoretical framework: 1) It is used to develop the knowledge management framework; and 2) it is being employed to analyze the research findings in order to validate or refine the proposed framework.

Table 9: Developed knowledge management (KM) maturity model from level 1 to 3 (developed for this study by the authors)

Level of Maturity Conditions KM Processes
Knowledge Creation Knowledge Capturing Knowledge Transferring Knowledge Reusing
First Level, Initiating KM in PMO In general

• There is little or no intention to formally manage project knowledge.

• PMO and project team members are not properly aware of the need to formally manage knowledge.

• There is no specific KM technology or infrastructure in place.

• There is no formal process to manage project knowledge.

Initial activities and/ or enablers

• Firstly, SWOT analysis, feasibility study, and requirements analysis should be undertaken to initiate developing KM system at the PMO.

• Initial definition of KM concepts, as well as undertaking current KM challenges in the PMO are required at this level.

• At this stage both required preparation works and planning for KM processes and practices should be undertaken.

• Some of basic practices might be conducted to manage knowledge capturing and creation.

• There is no or limited practices to support knowledge reusing and transferring.

Second level, Increasing KM awareness and developing basic project management processes in the PMO In general

• PMO and senior managers have realized the importance of project KM.

• Management is aware of the need for a formal KM system.

• The concept of KM has been defined and understood by project team members.

• Knowledge capturing improves through developing documentation and repository systems.

• There is not one person or unit responsible for KM.

• Knowledge capturing and creation should be improved and compared with previous attempts at knowledge capturing and creation.

• There are some practices in place to support knowledge transferring and reusing.

• Internet, Intranet, and any type of networks in the PMO contribute to KM.

• Informal communications are facilitated to help knowledge creation and transferring.

Knowledge management practices

• More practices in place in comparison to the previous level

• Integration with other KM practices has not been undertaken yet.

• More practices in place in comparison to the previous level

• Integration with other KM practices has not been undertaken yet.

• KM practices have been developed to support knowledge transferring.

• At least one practice, specifically, is in place to support knowledge reusing.

Third level, Developing proper KM system in the PMO In general

• There is a basic infrastructure in place to support KM.

• PMO and top managers are aware of their role in encouraging KM.

• There is a unit or person to take the responsibility and accountability of KM.

• KM is systematically supported through proper systems and established standards.

• There are some training courses to instruct KM in the PMO.

• KM strategies have been developed in line with PMO, and, ultimately, organizational strategies.

• There are numbers of integrated processes and procedures to be followed.

• Basic KM infrastructures have put in place and are being utilized.

• There are some incentive systems to encourage project team members to follow KM. procedures.

• Some KM practices are integrated at enterprise-level KM.

• Individual roles for managing knowledge have been defined.

Knowledge management practices

• Knowledge creation strategies have been developed and translated into KM practices.

• Formal knowledge creation system should be established.

• Proper KM practices have been developed to create knowledge through transferring.

• The integration with other KM processes has been undertaken.

• Knowledge capturing strategies have been developed and translated into KM practices.

• Proper KM practices to support knowledge selection and classification have been developed.

• Proper systems to capturing knowledge have been developed and collaborated.

• The integration with other KM processes has been undertaken.

• Knowledge transferring strategies have been developed and translated into KM practices.

• Proper KM practices have been developed to prepare formal channels for sharing knowledge

• Education and training have been conducted properly

• A robust system should be in place to ensure the security of knowledge transferring.

• The integration with other KM processes has been undertaken.

• Knowledge reusing strategies have been developed and translated into KM practices.
•Robust systems and practices are in place to support applying knowledge.
•Decision support systems and expert systems should be developed.

• The integration with other KM processes has been undertaken.

Table 10: Developed knowledge management (KM) maturity model from level 4 to 5 (developed for this study by authors).

Level of Maturity Conditions KM Processes
Knowledge Creation Knowledge Capturing Knowledge Transferring Knowledge Reusing
Fourth level, Managing projects’ knowledge in the PMO and integrating project KM with organizational KM In general

• Project KM and organizational strategies have been collaborated.

• The role of project KM to improve organizational competitive advantages has been realized.

• PMO KM practices and processes have been integrated with organizational KM activities.

• KM initiatives have been properly established in the PMO.

• PMO KM standards have been integrated with PM standards.

• Advance trainings and workshops to improve the KM are being conducted.

• The existing KM unit in the PMO has been integrated with the organizational KM department.

• All KM systems have been integrated.

• Measuring the KM utilization on project productivity is being conducted.

• Everybody is responsible for managing project knowledge.

• Numbers of quantitative index, critical success factors (CSF), and metrics have been developed to measure the effectiveness of KM processes.

Knowledge management practices

• Knowledge is properly created through all sub-processes(SECI): socialization, externalization, combination, and internalization

• The integration with other KM processes has been conducted at the organizational level.

• Success of knowledge creation processes is being measured.

• Knowledge is properly captured through its sub-processes: identification, storing, classification, and selection.

• The integration with other KM processes has been conducted at the organizational level.

• Success of knowledge capturing processes is being measured.

• Knowledge is properly transferred through its sub-processes: sharing, and distributing and forwarding.

• The integration with other KM processes has been conducted at the organizational level.

• Success of knowledge transferring processes is being measured.

• Knowledge is properly reused through its sub-processes: adapting, applying, and integrating

• The integration with other KM processes has been conducted at the organizational level.

• Reusing through transferring is well-managed.

• Success of knowledge reusing processes is being measured.

Fifth level, Optimizing the KM system in the PMO In general

• Culture of sharing and knowledge transferring has been institutionalized.

• Both organization and PMO utilize an integrated KM system.

• An audit unit should be developed for measuring the KM.

• KM is integrated into the organization and it is continually improving.

• KM procedures are an integral part of the PM methodology as well as the organizational process asset.

• The existing KM infrastructure is continually improved to support all KM improvements.

• All KM processes have an automatic component in place.

• Project KM and competitive advantages have been collaborated to support organizational strategies.

Advance Improvements

• A research unit should be developed in the KM department for supporting the optimization of the KM in both the PMO and the organization.

• Development of a decision making unit in the KM department will contribute to enhancing organizational competitive advantages.

Conclusions

This new theoretical framework is currently being used in exploratory studies of knowledge management in PBOs. After presenting the associated literature, this paper discussed the followings premises: 1) knowledge management processes, sub-processes, and practices; 2) Project management maturity model as a method to both assess the maturity level of PMOs and develop the research framework; 3) The PMBOK® Guide as project management framework; and 4) knowledge management maturity model as the method to address proper knowledge management practices at various maturity levels of PMOs. Afterward, the conceptual premises of the research framework were explained, followed by two main categories of the proposed theoretical framework: 1) knowledge management processes at the project lifecycle; and 2) a knowledge management maturity model for the PMO. At the end, limitations of research were discussed.

This framework has yet to be used in a number of cases to be examined properly. For the time being, the research is in the process of data analysis; however, the collected data has not indicated significant unconformity against the proposed framework. More investigation is required to validate this framework as a robust model for addressing knowledge management in various maturity levels of PMO.

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Appendix A: Research Framework

Resource: Developed for this study (Authors)

Resource: Developed for this study (Authors)

Shahram Sokhanvar recently finished the PhD in Project Management, and he holds MS in System Engineering, and a BA of Economics. He has also earned the following professional certifications: PMP, PMI- Risk, MCT- Project Server 2010 specialist, and Lead Auditor ISO 27000.

He has more than 15 years of hands-on experience working in different roles in project management environments, including schedule officer, lead planner and project manager, Project Management Office analyst, and now his main passion is to develop PMOs from both a process and Information Technology perspective, which led him to develop a framework for his PhD.

As a recently graduated PhD, Shahram would like to look at appropriate opportunities to follow his passion.

This material has been reproduced with the permission of the copyright owner. Unauthorized reproduction of this material is strictly prohibited. For permission to reproduce this material, please contact PMI or any listed author.

©2014 Project Management Institute Research and Education Conference

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