Wednesday, 4 March 2009
We shall now establish the knowledge-work behaviour of Albion fabrics and then explore the Organisation/Structural aspect of the Company in order to design an appropriate KMS for it.
First we must understand the importance of structure in an Organisation. An organisational structure shows how an Organisation groups or categorises its processes, job functions or products. A clear structure makes it easy easier to see what which part of the business does what. It has been established over time and through several research that in a dynamic business environment, Organisational structures which supports flexible teams are more successful than those with more bureaucratic structures.
In the case of Albion Fabrics the Organisation is by Customer, i.e. 5 teams of Garment Technicians (GT) focusing of the 5 clients of the company. Each of these teams is made up of a buyer, a senior GT and other GTs
Based on the current structure, the problems we have identified are as follows:
Knowledge acquisition: One of the ways new knowledge is currently acquired is by informal discussions amongst staff and monthly inter-team meetings. The in-house designer also attends fashion seminars and workshops with external designers on a regular basis. This poses a problem because the process of Knowledge acquisition is not sufficient.
Knowledge Conversion: This poses a problem because knowledge is currently being stored tacitly by each staff of AFL and there is no medium through which the tacit knowledge is converted to explicit knowledge. Currently, AFL has a local area network with an e-mail system which all staff have access to. Through e-mail, calendars, documents and even designs can be shared.
Knowledge Application: Knowledge is applied when teams utilize information from their monthly meetings, which focus on each team’s experiences and solution with their clients and factories, to their job functions.
Knowledge protection: AFL currently has no trade secret or knowledge that is protected. This is probably because they have no unique designs or niche.
Knowledge questions: In order to strengthen the structure of AFL and develop an efficient KMS, we need to first identify the following:
What kind of knowledge is to be captured and managed? knowledge about clients (i.e. Tesco, ASDA etc), suppliers (i.e. factories used for production), products information, AFL’s financial information, HR information etc.
Why do we need to capture this knowledge? In order to retain existing clientèle , get the best service from customers, to be innovative (coming up with solutions before the problem arises) and remain relevant in the industry
How does this align with the company’s strategy? AFL’s strategy is currently to retain the major clients it currently has, reduce costs and increase turnover. In order to achieve this, innovative ideas are needed and having adequate knowledge of stakeholders needs, strengths and weaknesses will help AFL achieve its strategy.
Recommended Organisational/Structural changes
Networking: One way of acquiring knowledge is by socialising and networking. First, we need to make the work system more relaxed than it currently is. Adopt an open door policy for teams to mingle freely with superiors. This is in order to create the ‘close knit’ environment, which is extremely important to give a feeling of ownership. Then management should encourage staff to attend external events with Clients and customers.
Staff Training: We recommend a regular training of staff on key skills and abilities needed (such as design skills, garment technology, marketing skills, managing time etc). The suggested training should be in-house for now. This option is less expensive and ideal, considering the present economic state of the Company. The drive here is to make sure that each staff attends training at least four times a year. After each training, the staff involved would summarise what they learnt in a report form which can be accessed by other team members. This should facilitate distribution of knowledge
With the training received and fashion and other relevant forums attended by staff, the knowledge can be applied by the development of new designs which can be pitched to existing and new customers thereby expanding their market. Exposing staff to these general forums where others like them in the industry can interact, staff can come up with innovative designs which can be ploughed into new products.
Following the creation of designs by in house designers, and consequent matching to the right garments by the garment technician, A database should be created which should be held as property of AFL. The company may then need to explore patent licensing for this database to protect it from losing this knowledge.
Tuesday, 3 March 2009
To be Innovative
To achieve competitive advantage
To reduce costs
To improve sales
To gain efficiencies in its processes!!!
This I believe should be the first purpose of AFL. Currently, there is no system in place that captures their business processes. An enterprise-wide KMS is needed to manage the Organisation’s knowledge in a digital content.
Their business knowledge is specialized and has a lot to do with visuals. Therefore, this specialized knowledge needs to be made unique to AFL. I would recommend a Knowledge Work system which can include: computer-aided design (CAD), 3D visualisation, Virtual reality, and investment workstations to enable AFL store and retain this knowledge.
Identified Problem areas in AFL
For Albion Fabrics, I have identified the following as problems areas:
• No digital content of their specialized knowledge, therefore inter team collaboration is absent,
• Organizational learning is slow because no tools to facilitate.
• No tool for creating and storing new knowledge from external sources (i.e. fashion updates)
HANSEN, M.T., NOHRIA, N. and TIERNEY, T., 1999. What's Your Strategy for Managing Knowledge? Harvard business review, 77(2), pp. 106-116.