ISO 9001:2015 and the practice of Knowledge Management
The first question when I joined the KM team and run the KM for a large organization in Thailand was if KM can be standardized. Was there any ISO saying about it. The reason was if they had one, it would be a lot easier to do it against those claimed
As when I dig deeper to the context of doing KM, I find it is so hard to standardized organization to do KM, following a pre-defined process. There is no "one-size-fit-all" process that make sense. KM practice is very organizational dependent. It deals with cultures and nature of business. There are no guarantee that when two organizations that has similar background and business setting may yield the same result from following the same KM practices.
It was kind of surprise to learn that ISO9001put KM into the practice. This lured me to look into the details of what ISO 9001:2015 has to say. According to Ian Fry's article on realkm.com, posted on October 14, 2015, the following are addressed.
Clause 7.1.6. Knowledge Determine the knowledge necessary for the operation of its processes and to achieve conformity of products and services. This knowledge shall be maintained and made available to the extent necessary. When addressing changing needs and trends, the organization shall consider its current knowledge and determine how to acquire or access any necessary additional knowledge and required updates.
NOTE 1: Organizational knowledge is knowledge specific to the organization; it is generally gained by experience. It is information that is used and shared to achieve the organization’s objectives.
NOTE 2: Organizational knowledge can be based on: a) Internal Sources (e.g., intellectual property, knowledge gained from experience, lessons learned from failures and successful projects, capturing and sharing undocumented knowledge and experience; the results of improvements in processes, products and services); b) External Sources (e.g., standards, academia, conferences, gathering knowledge from customers or external providers).
Not much of a surprise. The clause put into section 7.1.6. only attack on the very surface of embedding KM into operational process. The requirement to have the practicing of KM is a good catalyst for every ISO9001 comply companies to start considering of practicing KM as a step not to ignore. From the above clause the following of KM initiatives can be drawn out of what necessary steps are to partake.
- Critical knowledge necessary for company's operations must be identify, assess, and audit for necessary level of knowledge conformity organization wide.
- Identify knowledge must be elicit or codified and ensure the transfer for necessary staff who participating in using the knowledge.
- Knowledge must be verified and update from time to time on organizational basis.
ISO 9001:2015 is a good starting point for companies that required or thinking about adopting such standard code in to practice to adopt KM and put into practice. Many companies still ignore or underestimate the necessity of having KM practice in the organization. This is the right time to really take KM seriously.