How to scope configuration projects and manage the knowledge they require

Sara Shafiee*, Katrin Kristjansdottir, Lars Hvam, Cipriano Forz

*Corresponding author for this work

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    Abstract

    Purpose
    This paper aims to explore the use of the knowledge management (KM) perspective for configuration projects. Configuration projects implement configurators as information technology systems that help companies manage the specification process of customised products. An effective method of retrieving and formalising knowledge for configurators is essential, because it can reduce the risk of unsuccessful implementation and the time and effort required for development. Unfortunately, no standard KM frameworks are available specifically for configuration projects. This study identifies the knowledge necessary for different phases of a configuration project (which knowledge, for what purpose and from what sources), examines how it is transformed during a configuration project (what KM activities and tools are used) and establishes how the knowledge can be documented for future maintenance and updates. Design/methodology/approach
    This paper proposes a four-step framework for making the KM process more efficient in configuration projects. The framework is based on the literature, developed in collaboration with industrial partners and tested on four configuration projects in two engineering companies. The framework is a structured KM approach designed to save time for both domain experts and the configuration team. The authors have used a qualitative exploratory design based on multiple data sources: documentation, workshops and participant observation.
    Findings
    The proposed framework comprises four steps: determination of the system’s scope, to establish the project’s goal based on stakeholders’ requirements and prioritise the required products and processes; knowledge acquisition, to classify the knowledge according to the desired output and identify different knowledge sources; modelling and knowledge validation; and documentation and maintenance, to ensure that the KM system can be maintained and updated in the future.
    Research limitations/implications
    Because the framework is tested on a limited number of cases, its generalisability may be limited. However, focusing on a few case applications allows us to assess the effectiveness of the framework in detail and in depth to identify the practical challenges of applying it. The results of the tests support the framework’s validity. Although the framework is designed mainly for engineering companies, other industries could benefit from using it as well.
    Practical implications
    The individual steps of the framework create a structured approach for the KM process. Thus, the approach can save both time and resources for companies, without the need for additional investment.
    Originality/value
    A standard framework is lacking in the literature on KM for configuration projects. This study fills that gap by developing a KM framework for configuration projects, based on KM frameworks developed for IT projects, and KM tools.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalJournal of Knowledge Management
    Volume22
    Issue number5
    Pages (from-to)982-1014
    Number of pages32
    ISSN1367-3270
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2018

    Keywords

    • Knowledge management
    • Knowledge acquisition
    • Configuration projects
    • Product documentation
    • Product modelling
    • Scoping

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