Managing knowledge within firms is becoming increasingly important as they expand their global presence. Professional service firms have been on the leading edge of the use of information technology (IT) in the past, and they have experimented with how to manage knowledge for years. This article describes the knowledge management practices of the Far East Asia office of a global professional service firm.
Knowledge management can be viewed as involving four processes, each with associated challenges. Knowledge creation requires determining what knowledge should be captured from a pursuit of a client or a client engagement. However, employees may not share their knowledge for fear it will be exploited or contaminated. Knowledge development requires motivating employees to share what they know. A common challenge, though, is that because new hires do not have the knowledge of existing employees, there is a knowledge gap between the two that needs to be closed as quickly as possible. Knowledge reuse requires putting knowledge in the most reusable form, standardized or localized. Deciding when standardized knowledge will or will not suffice can be a challenge. Knowledge transfer requires disseminating knowledge effectively. But transferring knowledge across national borders is a challenge. The Far East Asia office of this professional service firm is addressing all four of these knowledge management challenges.