Knowledge Management

Problem - I used to work for a small cabinet shop in Richmond, BC.  The owner hired me as an all-purpose production manager and CAD/CAM/CNC guy.  After talking over the numerous problems he had, it seemed as though his biggest problem was that most of the company’s knowledge was locked away in his head.  This is a very common issue in any small business, regardless of industry.  The owner’s goal of growth and expansion would (more than anything else) be limited by this one issue.

Solution - The owner was open to ideas, but ideally those ideas should have low initial investment because cash flow was tight.  We noticed a few old computers collecting dust on the shelves.  Why not put these assets to use?  Over the next few days I setup a Local Area Network connecting 5 computers: 1 at Reception, 1 in the owner’s office, 1 in Design, 1 on the 2nd floor of the shop, and 1 on the 1st floor of the shop.  I setup an internal, password-protected company website using Google Sites to do everything from taking project notes and setting up schedules using Google Calendar.  This internal site allowed the owner to begin documenting his knowledge so that it could be later “Googled” by employees.

In addition to the internal site, I also began documenting standard procedures into a company Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) book.  This could be thought of as the complete business manual.  Don’t know how to turn on the main air compressor?  Check out the SOP in the book.  The use of SOP’s is standard practice in many medium and large sized firms.

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