5 ways to apply knowledge management tools to a strategic technology plan

Legal departments must identify ways in which they can classify, archive, mine and use the knowledge inherent within their systems

In last month’s article, I discussed how to apply risk management tools to a strategic technology plan. This month, I will discuss the final layer of technology planning: incorporating knowledge management (KM) tools to the plan. KM can have varied meaning among departments looking to incorporate the discipline. For many, simply identifying good content for re-use is sufficient. Other departments may seek to fully automate routine activities or build sophisticated systems to manage business decisions or processes.

In the context of a strategic technology plan, applying KM tools means identifying ways in which the department can classify, archive, mine and use the knowledge inherent within the department’s systems. This could entail making small configuration changes to the technology already within the plan. Or, the department may need to augment the current tool set with additional technologies.

4. Know how. A know-how system, broadly, employs an individual’s or group’s knowledge about how to do something. The goal is to capture the expertise of the individual and provide it to another, thereby lessening the learning curve and/or avoiding the loss of the knowledge if the expert were to leave the organization. It is only possible to scratch the surface when discussing examples. For transactional practices, know-how about contracts may be captured within document templates, document assembly systems and clause banks. Many litigation practices employ know-how through systems that replicate lawyer thought processes such as early case assessment or other decision-tree applications. IP practices rely heavily on docketing software and calendar rules that apply extensive knowledge of expiration/due dates, court timelines and other filing or government agency processes and requirements. Many practice-specific systems contain know-how features that need only be turned on or configured. More sophisticated application of know-how, however, takes careful design and maintenance and may require dedicated tools.

5. Current awareness. Although many lawyers subscribe to newsletters, review industry or trade journals, monitor legislative and regulatory activity, or follow trusted bloggers, there is certainly more information available than most individuals have the time to follow. Current awareness tools help staff identify external information relevant to them in a timely and organized manner. One of the most popular approaches is to use news aggregators and RSS feeds to identify and organize relevant external content. Some departments, however, have taken the idea further; they store the content alongside summaries, opinions or analyses and may even use workflow tools to disseminate the information to other parts of the organization.

Contributing Author

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Rebecca Thorkildsen

Rebecca Thorkildsen is a director of legal solutions with Pangea3. Leveraging more than 17 years of experience consulting to the legal industry on technology, management...

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