KM Architecture

By Henry Baltazar  |  Posted 2002-02-18 Print this article Print

KM Architecture

Todays typical KM solutions consist of four core elements: a portal-based interface, a document management system, a search engine and collaboration tools. The key to a successful KM implementation is tight integration of these elements.

A Web-based portal is the primary way employees interact with a KM system. The customizability, power to aggregate different types of linked information and interactivity of a KM portal are factors in its success. When possible, vendors are attempting to repurpose existing technologies to strengthen their KM packages. An excellent example of this is the recent merging of IBMs WebSphere Portal Server with Lotus Softwares K-Station Knowledge Management system. This combination allows customers to get WebSpheres developer-friendly portal framework along with K-Stations strong collaboration capabilities and rich interface. K-Station comes with several pre-built "portlets" that allow users to access calendars, contacts, e-mail and a wide variety of information sources from the portal.

Likewise, Microsoft Corp.s SharePoint Portal Server ships with a basic portal, along with tools for creating custom components to integrate with in-house applications.

A portal must also provide a simple means for users to check in and check out KM system documents. This revision control ensures that users have the latest information and that they dont overwrite one anothers changes.

Most document management products allow one person to have write access to a file, while everyone else has just read access (while the document is checked out). It is extremely difficult to design a system where multiple users can write to a single document.

When documents are imported into a document manager, KM software keeps track of which users create documents and enforces file- and folder-level security policies to ensure that unauthorized users cannot search for or check out documents they dont have rights to access. Current KM systems usually use file server file access permissions to define permissions.

KM systems should go further than just aggregating and indexing information, however. A trend in KM is to also provide document routing and process workflow capabilities, so that business managers can track the status of tasks.

Although powerful process- management-based workflow systems are available, including SAP AGs WebFlow, these products dont always result in a great return on investment because it is difficult to accurately document all the business process steps within an enterprise.

Information searches are the central task of a KM system.


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