Planning involves performing these critical steps:

■ Preparing a statement of work (SOW)

■ Developing a work breakdown structure (WBS)

■ Estimating time and costs

■ Preparing schedules

■ Performing risk management

Preparing a Statement of Work Also called a SOW, this document is a contract between the project manager building the KM system and its recipient, or customer. From a KM perspective, the customer is often within the user community and the project team comes primarily from the IT organization.

Considering the vagueness surrounding KM, a SOW makes good sense and can preclude a host of misunderstandings surrounding the functionality of a KM system and responsibilities for performing specific tasks. A well-written, definitive SOW provides a meaningful basis for planning a KM project. A typical SOW consists of the elements shown in Exhibit 1.

Exhibit 1. Elements of a Typical SOW




The purpose and scope of the system

Constraints (schedule, budget, quality)

The cost for developing and implementing the KM system and its date of completion


Responsibilities for knowledge capture and tool selection


Customer providing subject matter experts


Repository, training, documentation


Project manager, project champions, customer's requirements

Developing a Work Breakdown Structure Also called a WBS, the work breakdown structure is a top-down, general-to-specific hierarchical listing of components of a KM system and their respective tasks to complete. An effective WBS reaches a level of detail that enables development of a meaningful schedule, makes valuable assessments of progress, and ensures completeness of the tasks. A heuristic is that the lowest level of tasks in a WBS cannot exceed 80 hours to complete, or the equivalent of two weeks of work for a full- time equivalent. A sample portion of a WBS is presented in Exhibit 2.

Exhibit 2. A Sample WBS

Knowledge Management System 0.0


Knowledge Repository

Application Tools









Knowledge Access

Knowledge Capture

Knowledge Organization

Knowledge Architecture

Knowledge Distribution






,2.3.1 Determine ways to catalog knowledge

,2.3.2 Determine how to filter knowledge for specific retirements

.2.3.3 Develop indexing schema

,2.3.4 Identify linkages among knowledge components

,2.3.1 Determine ways to catalog knowledge

,2.3.2 Determine how to filter knowledge for specific retirements

.2.3.3 Develop indexing schema

,2.3.4 Identify linkages among knowledge components

Estimating Time and Costs The real value of a definitive WBS is its use in estimating the time and costs for a KM project. It provides the level of granularity that allows for "rollups" to different levels of tracking and monitoring.

The estimating for time should involve the application of the three-point estimate. This approach can reduce the dramatic influences of extreme optimism and pessimism that often accompany estimates. Hence, the three-point estimate reduces the tendency to exaggerate. The best approach for applying this estimating approach is having the individuals who perform the tasks do the estimating. The people assigned, however, are often not available, so the project manager must make the initial estimates. Regardless, the three variables for each task to consider are the:

1. Most pessimistic, which is the time required to complete a lask under the worst conditions

2. Most optimistic, which is the time required to complete a task under ideal conditions

3. Most likely, which is the time required to complete a task under normal conditions

The three variables are plugged into a formula to derive the expected time: Expected Time = Most Pessimistic + 4(Most Likely) + Most Optimistic / 6 Example: 144 hours + 4(60 Hours) + 50 / 6 = 72.33 hours

The expected time is then adjusted by a percent to account for interruptions, absences, and other nonproductive times not related to performing the tasks:

After estimating, the estimator for each task translates the revised expected time into flow time to develop schedules. The time is normally divided into eight-hour units:

With time estimates, the project manager can then calculate costs using the hours. Often, a burdened rate is used for labor and indirect costs that may be added to the task.

Preparing Schedules The combination of the SOW, WBS, and estimates provides the basis for developing a meaningful, integrated schedule for the KM project. The SOW provides the mandatory dates; the WBS provides the listing of the tasks to perform; and the estimates provide the length of time to perform each task.

The schedule is first developed by identifying the dependencies, or logical sequence, among the tasks and then applying the flow times for each one. The eventual result is the calculation of four dates for each task:

1. Early start, which is the earliest time that a task can start

2. Early finish, which is the earliest time that a task can finish

3. Late start, which is the latest time that a task can start

4. Late finish, which is the latest time a task can finish

The above dates are important because they not only indicate the flexibility available for starting and completing tasks, called float, but, in toto, identify the critical path. The critical path in the network diagram is the longest path, following from left to right, and does not allow for flexibility in the schedule. A slide in the critical path will, consequently, result in a slide in finishing the project on time. Exhibit 3 is part of a network diagram for a KM project.

Exhibit 3. Part of a Network Diagram for a KM Project

Performing Risk Management Because KM projects face many variables, risk management is absolutely essential. Like all projects, some risks have a higher probability of occurrence and a greater level of impact than others. The project manager who performs a risk management can increase the likelihood of project success by identifying the necessary measures that need to be established to respond to certain risks affecting cost, schedule, and quality. Here are some risks that many KM projects can face and that can impact cost, schedule, and quality:

■ Failure to obtain management buy-in

■ Failure to tie the KM system into the overall strategic direction of the company

■ Inability to get employees to share knowledge

■ Lack of detailed requirements

■ Lack of integration among development tools

Project Management Made Easy

Project Management Made Easy

What you need to know about… Project Management Made Easy! Project management consists of more than just a large building project and can encompass small projects as well. No matter what the size of your project, you need to have some sort of project management. How you manage your project has everything to do with its outcome.

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