Knowledge Management System

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Automation in Construction 18 (2009) 894–902

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Automation in Construction
j o u r n a l h o m e p a g e : w w w. e l s ev i e r. c o m / l o c a t e / a u t c o n

Collaborative knowledge management—A construction case study Bhargav Dave ⁎, Lauri Koskela
Salford Centre for Research and Innovation, University of Salford, Maxwell Building, Greater Manchester, M5 4WT, UK

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Due to the new threats and challenges faced by the construction industry today, construction companies must seek new solutions in order to remain ahead of the competition. Knowledge has been identified to be a significant organisational resource, which if used effectively can provide competitive advantage. A lot of emphasis is being put on how to identify, capture and share knowledge in today's organisations. It has been argued over the years that due to the fragmented nature of the construction industry and ad-hoc nature of the construction projects, capture and reuse of valuable knowledge gathered during a construction project pose a challenge. As a result critical mistakes are repeated on projects and construction professionals have to keep “reinventing the wheel”. Given the nature of construction projects, collaborative knowledge management seems to be the most appropriate solution to capture project based knowledge. Information and communication technologies offer a number of solutions to implement collaborative knowledge management solutions. This paper discusses a range of these solutions and presents a case study where a collaborative knowledge management solution is implemented across a multi functional construction company. The work presented in the case study was carried out while the first author was employed by the case study organisation. A social web application was implemented to solve a particular knowledge sharing problem within the organisation's concrete pumping business. The new solution provided an effective and simple way to create knowledge by taking employees' ideas through an iterative cycle of discussion. Crown Copyright © 2009 Published by Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Article history: Accepted 31 March 2009 Keywords: Knowledge management Social web applications Construction

1. Introduction Knowledge is seen as one of the most important resources in any organisation [1,2]. The success or even the survival of any organisation depends on how effectively it manages the knowledge present internally and externally [3–5]. Reuse of existing organisational knowledge gained via past experience can greatly reduce the time spent on problem solving and increase the quality of work. Two types of knowledge exist within organisations; tacit and explicit. Significant efforts have been made by the construction sector to develop and implement systems to manage capturing, storing and retrieval of explicit project related information. Some examples of explicit knowledge are procedure manuals, organisation maps, work breakdown structure, document management systems, collaborative intranets and extranets, etc. However, not enough attention has been paid towards managing tacit knowledge [6,7]. Management of tacit knowledge is of utmost importance to construction industry due to the fragmented nature of the industry and also due to the fact that each construction project is unique and generates a significant amount of knowledge during its execution. Also, as a result of the dynamic nature of construction project, new

⁎ Corresponding author. Tel.: +44 1612953431. E-mail address: (B. Dave).

challenges are faced every day for which solutions are devised by the project team where possible. However this knowledge mostly remains stored in minds of project team members and is not transferred across the organisation for reuse in future projects [8]. Many tools and techniques have been discussed over the years for knowledge management...
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