There are known knowns. These are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns. That is to say, there are things that we know we don't know. But there are also unknown unknowns. There are things we don't know we don't know.” This famous Donald Rumsfeld quote sums up the importance of well organised knowledge management within projects, programmes and entire organisations. Good projects rely on the knowledge and expertise that has been built up within the team and within the business. If organisations don’t have a knowledge management system in place, that expertise can be completely lost when an individual leaves or a project is being managed in isolation. This in turn can jeopardise the timescale or smooth running of the project – research shows that organisations with a good knowledge management system tend to be more efficient, make better decisions and are more competitive overall.

What is Knowledge Management?

An overview of Knowledge Management by IBM defines it as: “the process of identifying, organizing, storing and disseminating information within an organization.

"Why is this important? Because if knowledge is not well organised, businesses can lose a huge amount of time tracking it down – and that impacts project timescales. A central store of information is essential, particularly for complex projects where many types of expertise and experience are required.

There are various definitions of the type of knowledge that should be captured and stored. These essentially fall into two categories:

Tacit knowledge – this is the ‘common’ knowledge in your business, and it is usually to do with previous experience and current skills. It can be hard to capture and share with others, but is often extremely valuable in establishing good approaches or in managing conflict or collaboration.

Explicit knowledge – this is the written knowledge within an organisation. It covers processes, policies and procedures and, in an engineering context, should also include drawings and diagrams, test results, certifications, research, prototype information and other useful data.

Organisations often lose out on tacit knowledge when they have failed to collect it from the people in their teams. When someone retires, finds another job, finishes a contract or is even made redundant, their knowledge often leaves with them – leaving a gap in the organisation. Where that person is a particular specialist, that gap could become fundamental, leading to problems with current or future projects.

At Cascade Engineering, we operate standard quality management systems that encompasses all our client work. Drawings and designs are securely organised, controlled, retained and backed up to make sure that we can get up to speed with project issues quickly and accurately. Retaining and sharing this explicit knowledge, alongside collaborating with our client's internal teams – who benefit from our cross-sector personal experience and expertise – brings a high level of specialist knowledge and intelligence into your project, allowing you to keep moving forward and benefit from sharing our expertise. This level of organisation and detailed knowledge means it can be quicker and easier to talk to us than to chase forgotten or mislaid knowledge and information in a complex organisation.

To find out more about how we can contribute positively to your project, contact us today.

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