Thursday, October 29, 2009

Sharing Process Information

hands Does your company share and manage process information centrally? And, if so, where is that information share/stored?

I usually make a general distinction when thinking about enterprise information. I distinguish four types of information:

  • process information: information describing the processes of the company, the way of working and best practices, the document templates, etc.
  • product information: information about products, such as designs, requirements, parts descriptions, product structure(s), etc.
  • project information: information used to manage a project, like minutes, task lists, progress reports, customer visit reports, etc.
  • departmental information: information about resources, monthly reports about the department, presentations given to the department, etc.

In many companies process information is shared and stored all over the place. Part of the information can be found on the intranet. I think most process info is shared here. Some process information is stored within the project team on a share or project site. Other process info is shared in a more formal quality management tool (to be able to be ISO certified for instance).

What I'm seeing is that companies are slowly moving process information to the wiki (or a wiki-like platform). We are doing this too.

Processes, working methods, best practices, etc. is daily experience for employees. They have to work with them and they know what works and why. For this reason I think a wiki is a great way to share process information. Management could start the 'process wiki' by providing an initial structure and by monitoring its content (top-down). It is very important management doesn't start from scratch but acknowledges there's all kind of process information on the wiki already, it's mostly not coordinated yet. But the content itself will be provided, bottom-up, from the employees. Following the edits to this content gives lots of information about the way employees see the company, what really works according to them, and tells you who in the company is good at rightly in an analytical way about how the company works.

By having your employees provide the process information they are also committed to right it down in the way it actually is in daily practice and keep it up-to-date. It's not "something management imposed", but it's "ours" or "mine".

Furthermore, process and ways of working are not static, but alive. They change continuously, usually with small steps. Keeping up with these changes does not work with a complex governance structure on topic of a closed intranet or quality management site.

So, I'm curious: are you seeing process info move to wiki's? If so, share your experiences with us. If not, let us know how you manage process information.

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