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KM, inside and out - Consultant/integrator helps itself and clients

Pardon the cliché, but you could say that Cambridge Technology Partners (CTP, www.ctp.com) practices what it preaches. CTP VP Thornton May has spoken about the virtues and issues surrounding knowledge management (including a presentation at this summer's KMSummit), and now consulting firm and system integrator CTP has upgraded (and will continue to upgrade) its in-house knowledge management system.

"Where we're at now is the fun part--the knowledge management part," said Allison Reid, enterprisewide knowledge manager and coordinator. The system is built around Open Text's (www.opentext.com) Livelink, which was installed earlier this year as part of a suite of KM tools. CTP has access to file servers, intranet applications, project databases, mail lists and newsgroups. Now it is beginning to capture tacit knowledge, primarily by starting, building and tracking projects within the Livelink Projects module.

CTP uses a fixed time/fixed price model, which encourages employees to be efficient or lose time and money. Knowledge management is important to a company that can't afford to relearn each time a task appears.

It works like this: A consultant gets a task from a customer, then initiates a "project" in Livelink and searches for information that might help accomplish that task. Instead of initiating an E-mail discussion, the consultant poses questions through Livelink for others within the organization. Those discussions are built and captured in Livelink. As the problem becomes resolved, the information and input in the project can be construed as almost a road map for how to handle the situation.

When a second consultant is seeking information on the same task months later, a Livelink search will turn up the whole project and solution string, rather than just documents pertaining to the task.

"Reuse is a central part of our culture," said Reid.

But Livelink is only part of what CTP considers a suite of knowledge management tools, according to Reid. Other tools in the suite are Fulcrum Knowledge Network (www.fulcrum.com) and Semio Map (www.semio.com). The advantage, according to Reid, is being able to search and view information from various perspectives.

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