The Atlanta highway system is a perfect example of scope creep.

What is Your MVP (Minimum Viable Product) for Knowledge Management?

The term “Proof of Concept”, or POC for short, gets thrown around a lot in our industry. Often a POC is really a full scale project that gets sold to the budget owner as a simple and inexpensive way to engineer new or complex solutions. I have never liked the term “Proof of Concept”, because POC projects frequently fail to meet expectations. Either the team does not have access to the required resources, or the goals are set too high for this level of work.

The POC approach inevitably leads to scope creep, missed deadlines, cost overruns, or some exciting combination of all three. More often than not, POC ends badly. At Premier Logic we do MVP instead of POC projects. MVP stands for Minimum Viable Product – a release-ready product that has all of the core features the client wants, with none of the extra fluff. Every MVP effort addresses a targeted business problem by applying a focused solution, and we require full commitment from both our team and the client.

Let’s take a look at a recent example of the Premier Logic MVP process: in a recent sneaker-net automation project for a client, the clients existing vendor onboarding process was impeding the ability to get projects started. Employees were walking the paperwork to the finance team and waiting until they found someone who could help them get the initial approval needed to start a vendor on a project. While this gave them a lot of time for coffee breaks, the client needed a better option. The MVP for this engagement was a simple SharePoint workflow that allowed people to submit and route the request to the appropriate contact, removing the intermediary steps and streamlining the process.

While evaluating the project, we identified a number of secondary processes and system integrations that would have expanded the scope. The secondary items were prioritized and assigned to the solution in later phases. By staying focused on the MVP we cut the time-to-value for this project from several months to six weeks. With only a small investment and a commitment to a limited scope, we were able to deliver a solution with tremendous value to the client.

The MVP approach requires a great deal of discipline, but it pays off in quick wins for the client. A lot of people will claim that this is just agile development under a different name. This is not the case. While agile development and our MVP approach share the same need for a hierarchy, the MVP approach is all about focusing on the business problem and injecting the least amount of technology needed to resolve that problem. The MVP is defined before the development process ever begins.

The big question, then, is how the MVP approach relates to Knowledge Management (KM). Many of the initial conversations we have around KM focus on a need to quickly integrate people data, shared drive content and SharePoint content into a Phase 1 Knowledge Management “POC”. As soon as we hear that we quickly pump the brakes.

A Knowledge Management project doesn’t mean you need to capture and present every piece of knowledge content at your organization on day one. Selecting an initial type of content to work with is always the best approach.

Every organization can find an MVP around Knowledge Management. Most can identify several very quickly. If you answer “yes” to any of the following questions, you should consider finding your Knowledge Management MVP.

1. Are there emails constantly being sent looking for some type of content?
2. Are there individuals at your organization that are peppered with the same requests for information or support every day?
3. Do you have a need to find people based on a specific skill, certification or relevant experience?
4. Do you have a Shared Drive or Drives that have been used as a dumping ground for templates and deliverables that people grudgingly search when they have a need?

These are a few simple questions that you could ask, but there are hundreds of scenarios like this that could be resolved by finding the right MVP for Knowledge Management at your organization.

If you want to successfully complete a Knowledge Management project, focus on a specific type of knowledge content. Identify the MVP required to capture and present this content back to the users. But be careful: do not lose focus on the MVP as you move through the project. It may sound simple, but keeping that focus with an impatient business or IT team on your heels is trickier than you would think. If you need help, Premier Logic can work with you through the project to define your Knowledge Management MVP and keep everything on track.

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