Knowledge Management role in the Organizational Portal

Knowledge Management role in the Organizational Portal

Portals are often associated with Knowledge Management, one common aspects of the relationship between KM and portals is usually the platform they are built on, which is often a web platform (most KM tools used today are web 2.0 oriented and so those portals that are required to provide flexibility by nature). This commonality does not justify the association though, I am not saying they shouldn’t be associated – KM can really extend the value employees get from their organizational portal, but the relationship between the two is a little more complicated than that.

When it comes to portals I found their role can be very different from one company to another depending on the stakeholders involved, organization maturity, size and a number of different factors. The possible stakeholders each have a say in what goes in to the organizational portal – in accordance with their agenda, business needs and functional requirements, for example:
  • HR may want to influence and drive organizational culture, employee satisfaction or simply provide access to services.
  • Internal communication may look for improved channels to broadcast the company agenda to the employees.
  • R&D / Projects departments may want to share plans and get the employees more involved.
  • Corporate departments (IT, Finance, Travel etc.) may want to advertise their services or bring self-service support channels to their internal customers – the employees.
Creating a good portal is all about the employees that it is meant to serve. This means keeping the right balance when integrating all the different requirements is key to the successful implementation of the portal down the road. The bigger and more diverse to company is, the more this task becomes difficult, meeting this challenge requires introducing:
  • Customization features – allowing the employee the freedom to customize the portal to fit his personal needs
  • Content channeling – the ability to direct specific content to a specific target audience within the company
  • Personalization – the ability to present unique personal data to each employee
The successful integration of all the requirements by all the stakeholders mean’s the employee will actually have one starting point for most if not all the tasks he has during his work day. In this equilibrium – each feature strengthens the portal since it gives the employee more reasons to come back to it.
Dealing with KM I found there are many sub topics that can justify carful study on their own – collaboration, document management, social networking, search, knowledge bases and so on, portal integration is one of those topics, meaning:
  • Various KM components of collaboration, document management etc. should be integrated into the portal pages
  • KM methodology and strategy effects the way the portal is organized and has an impact on the final user experience
So what does KM have to do with portal?
KM is actually another stakeholder with goals such as influencing organizational culture towards sharing and collaboration, introducing tools and best practices the employees may benefit from and offering direct access to components designed to meet the employee needs – capturing the knowledge he wishes to share, giving him the ability to discover new knowledge and leverage it etc.
  • Knowledge management benefit’s from a strong portal that has good integration because more employees get exposed to it.
  • The portal benefits from strong knowledge management integration because employees can drive more value from it, and come back more often.

So there you have it, from my point of view it’s a matter of balance…

Image: Francesco Marino /

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