Business Issue 

The Stamford Public School (SPS) District identified many inefficiencies in its internal business operations and wanted to improve the productivity of its executive and administrative staff. For example, work processes were highly paper intensive. A walk through the SPS’s Central Office revealed that piles of paper, paper forms, paper-based file folders, and physical filing cabinets were the norm.

Second, knowledge about the School District’s operations was mostly in the heads of its tenured staff. There were no “single source of truth” reference resources covering the school district’s policies, practices, and processes. Knowledge was exchanged through people-to-people connections, primarily through telephone calls and e-mails. Employees with longevity were constantly barraged with questions from more junior staff.

From a technology perspective, SPS’s IT landscape could be considered a greenfield with respect to content management and knowledge management-related software. The district had no enterprise-wide applications for document management, case management, workflow automation, and search.

The Superintendent wanted to create a true knowledge sharing culture by more firmly embedding Learning Organization concepts into SPS; to identify, share, implement, and scale best practices; and to better manage the District’s documents, reports, and records using modern information technologies. Under his direction, the Stamford Public School District released a request for proposal for establishing an enterprise-wide content and knowledge management (KM) infrastructure. Iknow LLC was awarded the contract.

Approach 

The goals of this initial project were to conduct a knowledge management current-state assessment and to develop a set of recommendations for applying knowledge management principles and practices to SPS’s core business processes.

Iknow started the assignment by conducting interviews with most of the executive and senior administrative staff during the first month. Iknow prepared and used customized interview guides to structure the interviews and prepared detailed interview summaries to capture the information that was shared.

Following the interviews, Iknow performed a set of diagnostic analyses, leveraged its partnership with the APQC to access relevant knowledge management benchmarking and best practices resources, and drew upon its extensive knowledge of the KM and ECM software market to prepare the project deliverables.

Iknow prepared four primary deliverables:

  1. Various activities and events to raise KM awareness,
  2. KM current-state assessment,
  3. Technology recommendations for a KM system, and
  4. KM implementation roadmap.

Iknow conducted several activities and events to raise KM awareness. For example, Iknow researched and selected the top articles about KM initiatives in K-12 education from the APQC KM repository and distributed them to the SPS executive team. Iknow conducted a half-day seminar titled Learning Organizations and Education. Some of the specific topics covered in the workshop included Peter Senge’s The Fifth Discipline, covering team learning, shared vision, mental models, personal mastery, and systems thinking; organizational learning versus Learning Organizations; double-loop learning with leadership and cultural implications; and the APQC’s Master Planning for Innovation (MPI).

The second major project deliverable was the KM current-state assessment. The primary purpose of this assessment was to gather enough information so that the KM implementation roadmap could be developed from a solid base of facts. The KM current-state assessment also provided a baseline for measuring future improvements.

The third major project deliverable was recommendations on suitable technologies for the SPS KM system. The scope of work for the project did not include a detailed evaluation of knowledge management-related software products. Therefore, Iknow prepared this deliverable based on the findings from the current-state assessment and on the evaluations of software products that Iknow had completed during previous assignments.

Iknow recommended that SPS invest in four foundational software products, based on the business needs that surfaced during the current-state assessment. The four products were an enterprise content management (ECM) product, a business intelligence (BI) product, an image capture (scanning) and optical character recognition (OCR) product, and a commercial taxonomy product covering the K-12 education domain. The BI tool included data mining and discovery, data analytics, data visualization, and statistical analysis functionality.

The last major project deliverable was the KM implementation roadmap. Iknow recommended a roadmap that consisted of three parts:

  1. Define and adopt a vision statement for KM at SPS,
  2. Develop a KM strategy by leveraging the APQC KM Capability Maturity Model, and
  3. Implement a portfolio of projects (work streams) that will design and develop the foundation for SPS’s KM System. The foundation includes KM policy, governance, business process, and technology infrastructure.
Results 

Iknow’s recommendations were accepted by the Superintendent and were submitted to the Board of Education for approval and funding.