Knowledge management in software localisation companies an investigation of knowledge sharing practices and metrics in the Irish software localisation industry

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Kettle, Mary
Issue Date
MA of Business Studies
Dublin Business School
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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.