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Knowledge transfer is critical to ERP success

This article appears in the issue April 1999 [Volume 8, Issue 4]

In the application troika of customer relation management, supply chain management and enterprise resource planning (ERP), it’s the human resources (HR) suite of ERP that holds the greatest promise for advancing core capability management across the enterprise.

The real ERP/HR breakthrough opportunity is creating a unified skill and expertise management franchise for the organization. With simple cataloging of knowledge, skill and abilities through full-scale learning management, those subsystems help organizations "know what they know." Finally, the combination of content management subsystems and collaboration technologies with ERP/HR delivers a robust knowledge management foundation.

Those elemental services provide the footing to expand organizational intelligence. Through a bona fide shift to an expertise-based ERP/HR systems charter, responsiveness to new business opportunities is greatly heightened. The accelerated rollout of new knowledge-based services, ahead of the competition, makes ERP/HR a lead driver in the race for productivity and delivers an impenetrable competitive position.

The challenges in implementing any ERP component must be met by all involved, not just the individual departments affected.

Packaged enterprise resource planning applications are large-scale, complete solutions supplying enterprisewide functionality for core business processes. ERP integration requires orchestration of a variety of internal and external resources. Knowledge transfer between employees, vendors, subcontractors and consultants is a critical factor in ERP deployment, use and maintenance.

Many ERP integration and upgrade projects are challenged. Often, the difficulties can be traced to weak or nonexistent knowledge transfer processes. With simple, well-understood knowledge management practices, ERP integration and upgrading can be a rewarding experience.

Knowledge transfer is the deliberate process of converting conceptual knowledge into broadly applied procedural knowledge. It is achieved through well-designed collaboration and interaction between the knowledge source and the target.

It is elemental to ERP integration and is critical to ERP success. Including knowledge transfer as a specific deliverable in the contract with a systems integrator or other external resources can be challenging, but will improve the probability of success.

For effective knowledge transfer, external resources must be co-located with internal resources. Many successful ERP efforts set up a "war room"Ña large, shared space where all resources work. That enables a "next bench" sharing practice while ensuring a productive, collaborative work and learning environment.

Document management systems and leading collaborative technologies are a central plank in the knowledge transfer platform. Those subsystems are highly instrumental in the diffusion of knowledge and provide far richer modalities for learning. Full, seamless access must be made available to all ERP stakeholders, particularly external resources and consultants. For maximum knowledge transfer, allow users to administer content.

Now and more in the future, the ERP backbone is being extended to customers, suppliers and partners. The rapid syndication of the enterprise process logic, information assets and collaborative subsystems will require mastery in knowledge transfer to be effective and competitive.

Robust knowledge transfer processes deliver rapid assimilation, improved competitiveness and high performance of all ERP stakeholders and the entire enterprise systems portfolio.


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