There is no standard features for all organizations to develop KM software or an IT (Information Technology) based Knowledge Management tool. The requirements are accessed by keeping an objective and matching to the organizational culture. However accessing all the requirements at the beginning is not always goes well so a developmental process has to be initiated to take care of all the users' feedbacks and act accordingly. So it is always better to have a cross functional team with members from Information Technology department in a KM cell or KM team of the organization. IT features and particularly the design requirements have to be upgraded over a period of time to give a fresh look and feel to the users for a better acceptability.
We will try to discuss some of the common requirements for a KM portal to have. Please note that these features are to be modified or dropped based on the need of the particular organization.
We will broadly divide the IT tools in two areas. One is a community discussion or forum based the other one is Document or contribution Management system.
Document or Contribution Management system
Purpose: Sharing of best practices, innovations, failure stories & process improvements etc within the organization by using IT tool.
Network environment and front end tool
Usually a web browser is used as front end tool, as no software is required to be installed at client side to access the contribution stored at a central database. So a network environment over local area or over a wide area can be created to connect different users of an organization.
Authors or contributors
When a user contributes a best practice, innovation or his failure stories he or she became an author.
Approval process for each contribution
Before displaying the contribution in public area it is better to have one approval system where all contributions are checked for possible Intellectual Property violation, wrong content, information against company policy etc…. If this is not required then the system can be changed to auto approval of contributions.
Version of the document
Over a period of time the author may like to go for a revision of the document, so system should allow the author to go for a version control by keeping a record of different updating date and times.
Category and subcategory
While contributing the author can select a category or subcategory and submit the contribution. Based on this category and subcategory search can be narrowed down by the user while retrieving the contribution by users.
User feedback system.
User can submit feedback or ask question after reading the contribution. Once a reply is posted , author should get an alert to respond to the question or feedback.
User rating system
After reading the contribution user can submit their rating in a 1 to 5 or 1 to 10 scale. In a closed intranet environment we can keep a record of who is submitting rating to which contribution. The average of all the ratings can be displayed at the contribution or at the authors reporting area.
Visitors use key words to search a database of contribution. In the old system the authors were asked to submit a set of key words which are likely to be used by the visitors and their contribution is likely to address that. But today's advance search technology can match key words from the text of the contribution to return the relevant content. Here the user can submit a key word or a set of words and select the option of exact word matching or any where word matching. Users can narrow down their search to a particular category – subcategory or use various combinations of it. Usually the search results are displayed with title as hyperlink to different contents.
New Posts since last login
Users will login to KM portal at their convenient time, so they will be interested to see all the contributions posted to the system when they were away. So a reporting system which can display links to all the postings till date starting from the last login time of the user will help the user to know new postings. System has to keep a record of login date & time of each user.
Sending the contribution to a friend / tell a friend
While reading a contribution the user may like to send the link ( or URL ) to his / her friend so a provision is to be given for sending messages by email. The user can fill the friends name and email address and system should able to insert the page url and a welcome message for the friend to read.
Related areas of contribution.
Every visitor or user of the KM portal will have some of favorite area of his / her. These areas are not necessarily the areas of their work. Once the member returns to the Knowledge Management Portal or KM system he / she will be first interested to check the contributions by authors of his favorite area. A facility to display the new contributions from the favorite area will help the user.
Book Mark the document
While searching or reading the new contributions, visitors may like to store the URL or the path to come back again to read. The user can use the Favorite feature of the browser to store the URL, but this will have the flexibility as users can use the system from any terminal and access the KM portal.
Author's report area.
Authors of contributions will be interested to know the feedback of the users and different parameters like number of hits, average rating, number of bookmarks etc from its reporting area. He can subscribe to periodic report of his different contributions
Email alert (new posts in Favorite area, replies, question answers)
Users of the KM portal sometime will be interested in some topic and would like to be intimated about new postings or updating of the main content. Here they can subscribe to the email alert system so they can get message as soon as any reply is posted or changes are done to main content.