A question I ask in a two-week sample survey of knowledge workers’ operational issues is: “What needed information, data or document were you unable to locate today, or took you too much time to locate?” The sample survey consists of questions that I ask knowledge workers to spend 5-10 minutes to answer at the end of every working day in a typical two-week period (or 10 working days).
The consolidated list of answers by all knowledge workers in an operating unit is useful information for the knowledge manager. Whatever the set of solutions, the most cost effective ones must be implemented soonest to reduce knowledge workers’ “down time” (or unproductive time wasted while hunting for information they need).
The solution depends on the nature of the missing or difficult-to-find information, data or document. The solution can be one or more of the following:
- Locate the information and place it in the intranet.
- Improve the set of keywords used in searching and/or add more tags/keywords in the target document.
- Use a better search engine (e.g. Google Desktop’s search works more effectively and faster for me than the search in Windows Vista in my laptop).
- If the information can be generated from an automated or semi-automated business process, ask the software or systems engineer, in coordination with the process owner, to automatically generate the information for you.
- Place a hard copy of the document within easy reach from where you sit in the office.
- Annex it to whatever is the working document that always needs that information.
- Make the document accessible on-line and mandate/authorize data originators to update their respective fields promptly.
- Cultivate a closer or more trusting relationship with the external institution or person from whom you depend for the needed information, data or document.
- Adopt protocols in the organization to define the circumstances and procedures whereby anyone who needs information badly or regularly from another unit can call anybody there directly without “going through channels” and other time-consuming bureaucratic steps.
- Undertake special research to produce the desired quantity, quality and timeliness of information.