Q & A: KM at KPMG

Q & A: KM at KPMG

Hannah Birtles talks to KPMG's chief knowledge director and IKMS 99 speaker, Shelley Oldham.

KPMG has been practising the management of knowledge since its early days. In recent years, however, the firm has applied more formal disciplines.

Ms Oldham is responsible for the national implementation of KM with both KPMG and its clients. Endorsed by the KPMG International Board, she advises and contributes to global KM initiatives.

Q: What is your definition of knowledge management?

A: To me knowledge management is a fundamental business discipline of the future that enables organisations to optimise their potential in an environnment of change and globalisation. It is evolving in much the same way as all business disciplines with the first phase focusing most activity on the implementation of technologies to store, disseminate and contextualise explicit knowledge. To support this, however, collectively we must integrate these technologies with new models of management, models which are based on a deep understanding of the formation of ideas and practice exploitation of tacit knowledge.

Q: How much is technology and how much is management?

A: While technology is one of the most important investments to increase the efficiency of the knowledge process, it is not the panacea for all ills.

Management practices, organisational structures, work processes and the important element of people within an organisation must all be reviewed.

Q: What are some of the critical managerial elements of KM?

A: To manage knowledge requires an understanding of its formation, the various means of dissemination, the way people interact with and behave around information, its true value today and tomorrow, and the currency of trust in the equation of leverage. An organisation must understand where and how knowledge is formed within the organisation, and what are the blocks to its effective utilisation.

Q: What has been KPMG's experience with KM?

A: KPMG is a knowledge based organisation that relies upon robust global peer to peer networks of expert practitioners. This approach is highly dependent upon strategies that enable the firms professionals to interact and form important trust relationships. Such relationships provide a very rich knowledge sharing process. This foundation has been supported by global information tools and these tools have formed the basis of KPMG's recently launched Digital nervous system.

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