Speed-to-Market, competition, the regulatory climate, the move to continuousKnowledge Management in Manufacturing.jpg manufacturing, trends in quality by design…these are topics that are critical to manufacturing in the pharmaceutical/biosciences industry today.

Top that with the vast amounts of data being generated and consumed, and critical loss of knowledge as long-time employee subject matter experts retire in bunches, and the need to manage knowledge is more paramount to organizations than ever before.

Fortunately, the re-emergence of knowledge management (KM) strategies and services in the Manufacturing area is providing organizations with tools to help capture and manage knowledge.  KM provides structured and repeatable methods of improving the ability of people and organizations in Manufacturing to create, find, manage, and use knowledge to support innovation and speed.

Examples of KM in Manufacturing include:

  • Application of new technologies that help improve content findability and the lifecycle of content through the organization
  • Bringing structure to huge amounts of critical data stuffed into fileshares and SharePoint sites with no rhyme or reason, so that the knowledge in those documents can be of value to quality and manufacturing knowledge works, rather than sitting untouched
  • Knowledge capture services offered by organizations to identify and capture knowledge from senior experts heading toward retirement
  • Implementing Communities of Practice that help teams address very specific business objectives
  • Identifying insights from large amounts of manufacturing data

There are several ways KM can address critical needs in Manufacturing.  Two of these are outlined below:

Communities of Practice (CoP)

Communities of Practice are a proven KM methodology whereby business teams identify specific role, topic or interest-based business areas and help team members to focus on drivers (problem areas) and outcomes (ideal end-state objectives) and the behaviors required to meet those outcomes.  Tools such as SharePoint, Jive, and Slacker provide enabling capabilities. What’s necessary to make CoPs effective (unlike just handing over a SharePoint site) is the focus on behaviors, training and configuration of the capabilities to support very specific outcomes.  CoPs are often used in Quality and Manufacturing to support manufacturing problem-solving topics, Quality teams looking to improve adherence to regulatory processes, and to drive innovation by creating ideation communities. 

Structuring Unstructured Content

There is so much knowledge bound in so many documents stored in so many fileshare folders and SharePoint sites, that the information is essentially useless.  People cannot find content, or don’t know if it is the right content.  KM activities help by focusing teams on the creation of taxonomies and ontologies that define knowledge.  Those taxonomies can be managed by tools like Smartlogic and its Semaphore tools so that these unstructured content buckets can be queried and the structured taxonomies/ontologies can be used to identify key terms that describe the individual files.  With that in place, content can be migrated to structured content repositories like SharePoint.  This process vastly improves findability, provides the ability to put knowledge within a user context, and provides the ability to place content into a lifecycle for proper information management and compliance. 

By applying Knowledge Management methodologies, processes, tools and models, Manufacturing teams become more empowered to innovate, address critical areas, and capture and share knowledge more effectively. 

What are some of your Knowledge Management challenges?  Let us know in the comments section below.