1. Introduction In this report we have modelled a knowledge management system using CommonKADS methodology and conducted a social analysis of the proposed knowledge management system. We have applied the common KADS methodology to analyze a Virtual Organization established between Small Scale Machinery (SSM) enterprises and Die Cast limited (DCL). We further looked at improving this virtual organization with the help of a Knowledge Management system.
We have analyzed Virtual Organization from an Organization Model, Task Model and Agent Model perspective. We have used the various Organizational Model worksheets (OM1, OM2, OM3 and OM4), Task Analysis Worksheet TM 1, Knowledge Item Worksheet TM 2, and Agent Worksheet AM 1 to conduct this analysis. In addition we have also conducted social analysis to identify the problems that may arise or opportunities that we can identify in the virtual organization by applying the various social theories related to KM Systems.
We also looked at the technical and managerial issues surrounding Virtual Organizations and the strategies and best practices needed to ensure a successful implementation of an automated process within the virtual organization with help of a KM system. 2. Background on Virtual Organization Now-a-days, more and more organizations are looking at concept of “Virtual organizations” to address critical resources, personnel and logistical issues. A Virtual organization is a flexible network of independent entities linked by information technology to share skills, knowledge and access to others expertise in non-traditional ways.
It’s a form of cooperation involving companies, institutions and/or individuals delivering a product or a service on the basis of a common business understanding. The different entities participate in the collaboration and present themselves as a unified organization. Virtual organizations do not need to have all of the people, or sometimes any of the people, in one place to deliver their service. The organization exists but you cannot see it. It is a network, as in the case of SSM and DCL and one of them act as a supplier of key products and resources to the other.
Some of the attributes of Virtual Organizations (VO) include: •A dispersed network of skills and capabilities — The structure of a VO is distributed among multiple locations resulting in the capacity of bringing in a wider pool of skills and capabilities. •The use of telecommunications and computing technologies–These technologies serve as the enabler that makes a VO exist. Technology makes it much easier to support distributed work teams. Barriers of distance and time can be overcome by technology to improve performance and efficiency. 3.
Current Setup between Small Scale Machinery (SSM) enterprises and Die Cast limited (DCL) In the current set up, SSM expects DCL to produce finished or near-finished parts for its small machinery business. It is anticipated that a closer partnership be developed through the virtual organization concepts which will enable improved information and knowledge transfer to better coordinate the manufacture of die caste products by DCL for SSM. For issue resolution, they use two paper-based systems: Process Concern Reports (PCR) and Eight Discipline (8D) reports.
These systems are used for reporting foundry problems to a DCL liaison officer whose primary task is to negotiate changes to product design by alerting SSM to the problem and faxing proposed changes to the final component design. When a problem with a part is reported either by SSM or from within DCL, a new PCR is raised. The form records all the information concerning the problem, customer details, the actions to be taken to resolve the problem, and a list of personnel carrying out the recommended actions.
The form is then circulated to the concerned personnel in DCL whose name is on the form, the actions are carried out, and the PCR is closed once the problem is resolved. Once the PCR is closed, the entire PCR is saved and filled for future reference. This system adopted by DCL is valuable as it keeps records of the entire foundry’s troubleshooting experience but this knowledge is normally not shared with SSM. As this type of process required large quantity of paper work, it become almost impossible to search and retrieve records while troubleshooting similar cases.
Also the ordering and invoicing of work between the two companies was done by a paper based system. Though the current system operates as a Virtual Organization between SSM and DCL, there are deficiencies in the system. An efficient Virtual Organization can be set up by implementing a KM system to handle the issue resolution. SSM provides the designs to DCL and the DCL team produces the components via Gravity Die Casting or Pressure Die Casting, after applying a number of techniques such as Lathing, Drilling, Painting etc… and quality control.
Under the modified system, the technical team identifies any product design/quality issue and fills the required PCR details into the KM System, which alerts the Liaison Officer and the SSM Designers. The Designers log into the KM System and provides a resolution. The Liaison officer enters this as a PCR resolution and circulates to all the technical staff involved. Sometimes he/she will have to access DCL’s order processing system to get more information related to this order and the people involved with the work.
After the modification is done and PCR is closed, the Liaison officer archives this information into the KM System for future reference. 4. Knowledge Management using CommonKADS CommonKADS is a methodology that brings together the functions of Knowledge Management and Knowledge Engineering. CommonKADS offers tools to support the analysis of organisational elements that may determine success or failure for any organization, be it a Multinational Company or Virtual Organization. 4. 1 Worksheet for OM1 Organization ModelProblem and Opportunities Worksheet OM1
Problem & OpportunitiesProblem: Lack of information and knowledge transfer between DCL and SSM and difficulty in retrieving past records due to paper/manual information exchange. Opportunity: Better coordinate the process of manufacturing of die caste products by DCL for SSM Establish a digital/automated problem reporting and resolution system and a Virtual Organization to improve the operational efficiency of DCL and SSM. Cost Saving and Efficient operation for SSM, by creating a Virtual Organization with help of Technology/KM System Automate the PCR’s between SSM and DCL teams
Organizational ContextMission: Establish a Virtual Organization between SSM and DCL to improve operational efficiency and cost saving External Factors/Actors: Liaison Officer, SSM Designers, DCL Technical Staff(casting, drilling, painting, lathing), IT staff, Supervisors Strategy: •Establish an effective Virtual Organization •Establish a KM system to handle PCR’s Value Chain & Drivers: SSM/ DCL teams report a problem to the DCL Liaison Officer who negotiates and coordinates the problem resolution with the SSM designers or DCL staff, with the help of a PCR.
The PCR is circulated among the persons involved with the problem and once the problem is resolved, the PCR is archived for future reference. Currently the entire process is manual and paper based and the reports used are PCR and 8D Solutions 1. Establish an effective Virtual Organization between SSM and DCL with help of Technology, avoiding manual/paper based processing 2. Establish a KM System which will coordinate all the PCR’s. The Liaison officer will be the system owner and SSM designers and DCL technical team will have access to the system and input PCR related information. . KM System will also act as an information repository for all the problems/resolutions. Any past problems can be referenced from this system to avoid duplication of PCR creation. 4. Once the process works effectively, the role of Liaison Officer can be eliminated by completely automating the PCR creation between the two organizations and thus creating an efficient Virtual Organization. To analyse the existing process and propose a KM based virtual organization, we use the various OM models. The Problem & Opportunities, Organizational Context and Solutions are captured in OM1.
From OM1 worksheet, we analyse that the problem associated with current setup between SSM and DCL are lack of information and knowledge transfer between the two companies and difficulty in keeping track of past records due to paper/manual information exchange used. Some of the potential solutions to resolve this problem would be to establish an effective Virtual Organization between them with help of Technology and avoiding manual/paper based processing. Also we can establish a KM System which can be used for alerting the workers whose name is defined in the PCR.
In the propose KM system, the Liaison officer will be the system owner and SSM designers and DCL technical team will have access to the system and input PCR related information. KM System can act as an information repository for all the problems/resolutions. And any past problems can be referenced from this system to avoid duplication of PCR creation. Once the process works effectively, the role of Liaison Officer can be eliminated by completely automating the PCR creation between the two organizations and thus creating an efficient Virtual Organization. . 2Worksheet for OM2 OM-2 is used to analyse a single problem-opportunity area of OM-1 and describes the subpart of the organizations involved. In this case, the context for OM-2 is the virtual organization established between SSM and DCL, with the DCL Liaison Officer acting as the intermediary between SSM designers and DCL technical staff. Here we analyzed the organization from a structure, process, resources, people, and knowledge and power perspective in the following worksheet. Organizational ModelVariant Aspects
StructureSee Chart below ProcessSee Chart below People•SSM Manufacturing Engineer •SSM Drawing Officer •SSM Visual Design Artist •DCL Foundry Supervisor •DCL Asst. Foundry Supervisor or Liaison Officer •DCL Technical Staff including shift supervisor ( Lathing, Casting etc.. ) •DCL Support Staff-Archival, Report compilation Resources•Die Casting Equipments •Drilling, Lathing, Painting Equipments •Design Tools such as CAD/Computers •Reports-PCR, 8D •Reports Storage mechanism •Raw material (Aluminium, Paint) •Paper/Pen
Knowledge•Parts Design Knowledge and Experience •Liaison officer’s knowledge and Experience •Technical Staff’s knowledge of Lathing, Drilling, Painting •Quality Assessment and Control knowledge. Culture & Power•More power and control for Designers, as SSM is the client •Some power for Liaison officer, as he’s the middle person •Hierarchical relation within DCL (Liaison Officer, Technical Staff) •Collaborative relation between technical staff •No direct relation between SSM designers and DCL technical staff Existing structure of the virtual organization
As we can observe from the above figure, SSM has three design staff i. e. manufacturing engineer, virtual design artist and drawing officer that primarily responsible for the design of the parts that DCL are required to manufacture for their small machinery business of manufacturing kitchen appliance. Design creation is the primary task of the visual design artist in conjunction with manufacturing engineer. Drawing officer who has experience with CAD application software provides the final design specification and drawings in a paper based format to DCL.
DCL consist of 15 Staff, out of which 12 are involved in production line. They have a supervisor who is responsible for function of die casting process. He has an assistant also called as liaison officer, who is responsible for liaising with staff and documenting information in PCR and 8D reports. Existing process between SSM and DCL The existing process for resolving design related issue has been demonstrated in the graphical format. When the problem with the part is reported by SSM or from within DCL, a new PCR is raised.
The PCR contains all the required details like action remedy that is necessary for resolving the issue and the staff members who will be responsible for solving that issue. The Liaison officer then negotiates the changes of product design to SSM and sends the proposed changes of the Final component design. The PCR is then circulated among the technical team of DCL for carrying out the required action. Once the raised problem is solved, the PCR is closed and is filed for later reference.
As mentioned in the OM2 worksheet, there are various knowledge assets involved in the existing structure between SSM and DCL. Experienced SSM designers have good functional knowledge about the parts that are produced by DCL team. Liaison officer at DCL have fair knowledge about processes used in the die-casting as it helps in negotiating the changes of the product design with SSM designers. The technical staffs at DCL have in depth knowledge of each and every processes involved in die-casting such as drilling, lathing, painting, etc.
Also the foundry supervisor and liaison officer use their die-casting process knowledge and experience for assessing the quality of the final end product. 4. 3Social Analysis 1] From OM1 we observed that one of the problems associated with current situation is the difficultly in retrieving and accessing the information of PCR’s as they are stored in a paper based format. Also some amount of knowledge is inherent to the experienced technical staffs, which gets lost when they leave the organization.
To solve this issue, we can use the reading ‘The Concept of “Ba”: Building a Foundation for Knowledge Creation’ and try to separate the knowledge from Technical Staff of DCL and old PCR’s and turn it into information, which can be communicated independent of the Knowledge Source (Technical Staff) and digitize the information for easy archival, retrieval and access. We can also standardize this information to improve the efficiency and performance of the virtual organization. Concept of Ba: Japanese concept of “Ba”, which means “space” for knowledge creation.
Knowledge is embedded in Ba, where it’s acquired through one’s own learning and experience. If knowledge is separated from Ba, it turns into information, which can be then communicated independently from Ba. This information is tangible and can reside in networks or electronic forms (e. g. a Knowledge Management System) where as Knowledge is intangible in nature and cannot be transferred using a system. Knowledge itself can be divided into two: Explicit knowledge and Tacit knowledge. Explicit knowledge can be expressed in words and numbers and can be shared in the form of data, specifications, scientific formula etc.
This kind of knowledge can be transmitted between individuals formally and systematically. Tacit Knowledge is highly personal and hard to formalize, making it difficult to communicate or share with others. Tacit knowledge is deeply rooted in an individual’s actions and experiences. Application of the Concept of Ba to Virtual Organization between SSM and DCL: The Virtual Organization between DCL and SSM serve as the ‘Ba’ where technical staffs of DCL use their explicit and tacit knowledge for issue resolution.
They use the explicit knowledge they have learned over the years and their formal technical training (e. g. : drilling machine operation) to respond to the issues raised by Designers or issues they uncover. PCR’s are used as the medium of knowledge transfer. Over the years, they also acquire tacit knowledge through their experience in the technical domain. However, the application of knowledge by technical staff is not standardized and the process is quite inefficient and subjective.
The Explicit Knowledge in issue resolution is captured in PCR’s like procedure or steps for resolution of a particular issue. Currently they use a paper format which makes the knowledge access and retrieval process quite inefficient and cumbersome due to the quantity of papers involved. To create an effective Virtual Organization and make the issue resolution process more efficient, we are proposing the implementation of a KMS system as part of the VO, which the technical staff of DCL and SSM designers will use.
In effect, we are trying to separate the knowledge from the technical staff (Ba’s) and convert them into information and capture them in a KMS. Once the knowledge is separated from Ba’s, it becomes information which can be applied by any person, any time when the similar issue occurs again. This information can be communicated efficiently and stored in electronic mediums. Also we can standardize the information and store it centrally. Hence the creation of a KMS system will enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of the Virtual Organization.
The challenge we would face here is to capture the tacit knowledge of the technical staff into the KMS. We can capture the explicit knowledge into the KMS using technical manuals and with help of other skilled professionals. But tacit knowledge of the technical staff, which they acquired over many years, is inseparable and extremely difficult to capture into a system environment. The KMS system will be highly efficient but can never emulate the knowledge perfection of a highly experienced Drilling Machine operator, designer or Painter.
But in this case access of information and efficiency is more important and hence replacing the paper based PCR’s with help of KMS is a highly feasible option. Capturing the tacit knowledge and explicit knowledge of technical staff becomes quite critical to the effective functioning of a Virtual Organization; otherwise the dependency of the supplier organization (DCL) on few key people can hamper the relation between the two organizations and also increase the cost of operations.
The key technicians can also demand higher salary, as they know that their tacit knowledge is not only critical to the supplier organization, but to the recipient (SSM) through the virtual link between the two. 2] One of the problems associated with die-casting is that the SSM designers are not aware of the complete processes employed to produce the finished parts which leads to unrealistic expectation of quality of the products manufactured by DCL team. The lack of knowledge of SSM designer is because the tacit dimension of knowledge involved in producing the die-cast is not shared with the SSM by DCL team.
The physical separation of the two organizations could be one of reasons that make sharing of tacit knowledge difficult. According to the KM theory mentioned in the article ‘The role of tacit knowledge in group innovation’ says that Distance (physical separation and time) is one of the barriers in sharing the tacit knowledge. In this case technology can offer the partial solution where SSM designer can better coordinate with DCL liaison officer regarding the manufacturing process of he finished goods. But much of the tacit knowledge that is generated and shared through body language and physical demonstration skill will not be obtained. The inequality of status among the DCL liaison officer and their technical staff can also be the strong inhibitor to sharing of knowledge when assessing the quality related problems of the die-casting products. The technical staff may assess the quality of the products on different knowledge base.
The technical staffs have in depth knowledge of the processes involved in the manufacturing of the die-cast products but they neither have enough evidence or status to backup their intuitions to support the knowledge. 4. 4Worksheet for OM3 OM3 worksheet is the process breakdown worksheet and is used to describe all the key elements of the process in detail. This can be done by identifying and analyzing the task involved, who performs the task, where the task is performed, what are the Knowledge Assets involved and what is the significance etc for the existing process. TaskPerformed byWhereKnowledge Asset(s) KI?
Significance Foundry problem reporting with PCRDCL technical StaffDCLProduct Design Knowledge and Product process knowledge Yes2 Design change Reporting with PCRSSM designerSSMProduct Design KnowledgeYes2 Convey the Foundry problem reportedDCL Liaison OfficerDCLProduct process knowledgeYes2 Negotiate the product design changesDCL Liaison OfficerDCL-SSMQuality assessmentNo3 Product DesignSSM designerSSMProduct Design KnowledgeYes3 Die CastingDCL technical StaffDCLIn depth die-casting processYes3 Distribute the PCR to the technical staff (Design changes)DCL Liaison OfficerDCLNo4 PCR ArchivalTechnical Support teamDCLNo5
From the above worksheet, we can identify number of tasks which are carried out in this process. Tasks carried out at SSM includes, Design change reporting with PCR done by SSM designer, negotiating the product changes with the DCL liaison officer and product design done by SSM designer. While the tasks carried out at DCL includes foundry problem reporting with PCR carried out by DCL technical staff, conveying the reported problem performed by DCL liaison officer, process of Die casting done DCL technical staff, istributing the PCR (new design changes) to the technical staff done by DCL liaison officer and archiving of PCR after the its closer which is performed by technical support team. From the OM3 worksheet we also see that there are several knowledge assets like Product Design Knowledge, Product process knowledge, In depth die-casting process, Quality assessment associated with different task. 4. 5Worksheet for OM4
The various Knowledge assets are further analysed in OM4 worksheet. Product design knowledge which is possessed by SSM designer is used if the finished product has not been manufactured as per their company requirement or if they want introduces new design of die-casting products. The die-cast product process knowledge which is possessed by DCL liaison officer is used to negotiate changes to product design or proposing any changes in the final component design.
In depth die-casting process which includes drilling, lathing, painting, etc. is possessed by DCL technical team to carry out the necessary action as recorded in the PCR. The DCL liaison officer also possesses the knowledge assets of assessing the quality of the manufactured product in conjunction with foundry supervisor. Knowledge AssetPossessed byUsed inRight From? Right Place? Right Time? Right Quality?
Product Design KnowledgeSSM DesignerProduct Design and Design change Reporting with PCRYesYesYesYes Product process knowledgeDCL Liaison officerConvey the Foundry problem reported and Negotiate the product design changesNoYesYesNo In depth die-casting processDCL Technical teamFoundry problem reporting with PCR and Die CastingYesYesYesYes Quality assessmentFoundry supervisor & DCL liaison officerNegotiate the product design changesYesYesYesYes 4. 6Business Feasibility 4. 6. 1Proposed Structure and Process In the proposed structure, an effective virtual organization has been established by replacing the paper based system with Knowledge system.
The new PCR is raised and filled on knowledge system. The PCR is filled in the similar fashion that records the complete information concerning the problem, customer details, action to remedy the problem and the list of the personnel carrying out the recommended actions. The PCR is now circulated electronically among the technical team members in DCL named on the PCR form. Once the PCR is solved, they are automatically archived for later reference. Searching and retrieval of archived PCR for troubleshooting less recurring problems become quicker and easier through knowledge system.
Also the paper based ordering and invoicing has been replaced with online order processing system at DCL. The proposed process for issue resolution has been designed in such a way that all the paper based system has been replaced with Knowledge management system. If any design issue has been identified by SSM designer or from within DCL, a new PCR is created by logging into the KM system. Using the new KM system, SSM designer can directly raise new PCR for DCL team by logging the required design issue which is be used for reporting the foundry problem to DCL liaison officer.
Once a new PCR is created, a message is triggered to liaison officer regarding the new PCR. Also an electronic receipt is sent to the SSM designer if the PCR is raised by them. PCR is then circulated among the DCL technical team based on the name recorded in the electronic PCR. DCL technical staffs carry out the recommended actions and update the PCR. If the issue is resolved, resolution message is sent to the liaison officer for closing the electronic PCR. Once the PCR is closed, it is automatically archived for future reference.
This type of system is valuable because archived PCR is a record of the foundry’s troubleshooting experience which can know be shared with SSM. SSM designer can log in to the KM system and check the issue resolution so that they can learn the high level process involved in manufacturing the finished products. This knowledge can also be used by SSM designer for assessing the quality of the product and by DCL liaison officer with conjunction with foundry supervisor for quality control.