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A Model of Project Knowledge Management

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A Model of Project Knowledge Management
Stanislaw Gasik, Sybena Consulting, Warsaw, Poland

Knowledge is the most important resource needed for project management. The aim of this article is to present a full, consistent model of project knowledge management. There are two basic types of project knowledge: microknowledge, needed for performing a single task (or its part), and macro-knowledge (in other words, all the knowledge possessed by people from a given organizational level). Project knowledge is managed at four distinct levels: individual, project, organization, and global. The article describes the micro-knowledge life cycle and macro-knowledge life cycles from each organizational level, as well as the processes of vertical knowledge flow between organizational levels. KEYWORDS: project knowledge management; micro-knowledge; macro-knowledge; knowledge life cycle; vertical knowledge flow; organizational knowledge; global knowledge; individual knowledge; project knowledge.

roper knowledge is a basic prerequisite for effective project management. According to Sankarasubramanian (2009), all projects have one thing in common—knowledge. The Japanese project management standard recognizes knowledge and experience as the main sources of project value (Project Management Association of Japan [PMAJ], 2005a, p. 86). Projects may be seen as knowledge management processes (Sauer & Reich, 2009). Project knowledge management, especially in complex projects, is one of the main success factors in project management; lack of project knowledge management is one of the main reasons for project failure (Desouza & Evaristo, 2004). Knowledge about project management, explicit as well as tacit, plays a decisive role in understanding this discipline (Morris, 2004). Systematizing the area of project knowledge management is the main goal of this article. This area, which developed in parallel to other areas of knowledge in project management like risk management, quality management, or communication management, has up until now not been as systematized as those areas, which are described in detail in A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge (PMBOK ® Guide). The relatively short period in which practitioners and researchers have been interested in project knowledge management is probably the main reason for this situation. The first papers about project knowledge management date back to 1987 (Boddie, 1987; Gulliver, 1987) and have attracted the attention of practitioners and researchers since that time. Many articles, some books (Love, Fong, & Irani, 2005; Milton, 2005; Sense, 2007a), and special issues of professional journals devoted to project knowledge management (DeFillippi, 2001; Lampel, Scarbrough, & Macmillan, 2008; Love et al., 2005; Reifer, 2002; Susman & Majchrzak, 2003; Sydow, Lindqvist, & DeFillippi, 2004) have been published. Project knowledge has been collected in bodies of knowledge (e.g., Association for Project Management [APM], 2006; Project Management Institute [PMI], 2008a), standards (e.g., International Organization for Standardization [ISO], 2003), competency standards (e.g., International Project Management Association [IPMA], 2006), methodologies (e.g., Office of Government Commerce [OGC], 2005; PMAJ, 2005a, 2005b), and maturity models (e.g., PMI, 2008b; Software Engineering Institute [SEI], 2006). In order to systematize the area of project knowledge management, we first have to understand the main approaches to the definitions of knowledge management. These definitions may be divided into two main groups; the first focuses on processing the single knowledge element and enumerates functions of its life cycle. The following definitions may be mentioned here: • Knowledge management is a process of systematically and actively identifying, activating, replicating, storing, and transferring knowledge (Probst, Raub, & Romhard, 2003).


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