Knowledge Management is a strategic necessity for companies for one important
reason - what worked yesterday may not necessarily work tomorrow. As companies
move to a service based model they become increasingly dependent on the knowledge
of stakeholders. The challenge of knowledge management is to establish an
environment for knowledge creation, capture that knowledge, and turn it into a source
of competitive advantage for the organisation.
This paper explores knowledge management practices in software localisation
companies in Ireland. These companies face unique challenges in this area; by nature
communications systems must deal with various time zones and cultural differences,
increasing cost pressures and reduced time to market have resulted in the widespread
practice of outsourcing.
Three facets of knowledge management are explored. The first examines the divide
between codification (IT based approach to knowledge management) and
personalisation (personal contact approach to knowledge management). The study
found that localisation companies utilise both approaches and promote systems for
employees to share information.
Knowledge push (ensuring an adequate supply of knowledge exists - pushing
knowledge onto employees) versus knowledge pull approaches (motivating workers to seek out knowledge employees pull knowledge from system) are also explored.
Knowledge push alone is inadequate as competitive advantage requires ensuring the right information is available to the right person at the right time, however the study found this approach prevailed. A number of recommendations are made to improve knowledge management practices in this area.
The final research objective concerns metrics. As knowledge management is a relatively new discipline metrics are a somewhat unexplored area. This study found that while the localisation industry has a range of metrics connected to cost and productivity, few knowledge management metrics are in operation. This paper proposes a number of metrics for the industry.