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Central and Distributional: forming information directory crews

1 May 2012
girl with folders

I have been assisting two organizations in a knowledge directory upgrading process. The process includes both organizations deciding on the nature of their respective knowledge directory's crew which will also be responsible for converting content during the transfer period but mainly for ongoing activity following the transfer.

Many articles in this magazine have dealt with "distributed knowledge directories" and "central knowledge directory", referring to the crew's model of operation.

Hereby is a concise overview of the properties of the two models:

Central model:

  • Homogenous team managed collectively

  • Team members are employees; this is there only job (100% employment)

  • All data is accounted for- no data falls between the cracks, small chance of duplicate data or contradictory data

  • Content writing and entering according to uniform language and clear standards

  • Crew members turn to professional field experts for assistance since they do not possess all the professional knowledge

  • A tendency to disconnect from the field due to its placement in the organization

Distributed model:

  • Content editors associated with their organizational units. These workers answer to two different managers: a personal manager in their unit and a professional manager appointed to the knowledge directory crew

  • Workers usually perform the content editing in addition to their regular position at their organizational unit

  • Connection to the field; comprehension of the professional world

  • More parties in the organization committed to the knowledge directory

  • Cooperation with content editors from other units is unnatural; this might lead to data falling between the cracks or duplicate data

  • Greater risk of lack of uniformity and/or writing skills

What do these models share?

  • Both include appointing a manager responsible for ongoing instruction of content editors and their professional development.

  • The content editor position must be defined; criteria must be defined. A distributed crew, in which the content editor is administratively subject to the unit manager to which they belong, still requires the knowledge directory manager to be involved in recruiting content editors and approve of their appointment.

  • Both models require organized and structured training of content editors.

  • Work processes and monitoring processes should be formulated and executed, e.g. data collection and writing processes. Writing standards, monthly usage reports, etc.

  • And of course, communication with users is performed by handling feedback,focus groups, etc.

What is the correct model for your organization?

The central model is the traditional and more common model but not necessarily the better one.

Therefore, let us address the obvious: if some kind of organizational knowledge directory crew already operates sufficiently according to organizational needs- there is no need to fix what isn't broken.

The size and complexity of the organization, number of call centers and volume of content:

The larger and more ramified an organization, and the more diverse and complex the areas in which it provides service, the more limited the knowledge directory's control. This case calls for a distributed model.

In cases that involve a small organization that does not consist of many call centers or little information that isn't substantially complex, go for a central model.

When faced with a high level of complexity and quantity of content yet organizational units can spare a professional worker to assist the knowledge directory team, select a central model.

Current stage in the knowledge directory set-up process:

If you are still in the initial stages of the set-up process and have enough time on your hands for an organized recruiting process, establish a central crew. You can invest in formulating and training it centrally and benefit from a homogenous team involved in the characterization process and the content collection process (in case of conversion, data validation) writing and entering into the system.

If you are passed these stages and cannot stop to invest in recruiting and forming a team, prefer a distributed team (even if for a defined period) appointed a defined content supervisor.

Tip: a distributed team must define employment percent for content editors. Do not reach a situation in which the content editor position is of subsidiary importance and is pushed aside by the swarm of more important activities.

What model did I choose for the organizations I've been instructing? Well, one set up a homogenous crew (central model) while the other appointed referents from professional units (distributed model).

In conclusion, there is no one absolute answer- each organization features its own needs and constraints. Structured and monitored interface management will hopefully lead to the success of both models.

It is preferable to occasionally review the needs compared to the current reality and perform any necessary alterations accordingly.

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