A different kind of Web-based knowledge management: "Little a" principles apply to "Big A" portals.Knowledge management is composed of a range of practices deployed by organizations to identify, create, represent, classify, and disseminate dis·sem·i·nate
v. dis·sem·i·nat·ed, dis·sem·i·nat·ing, dis·sem·i·nates
1. To scatter widely, as in sowing seed.
2. knowledge for reuse reuse - Using code developed for one application program in another application. Traditionally achieved using program libraries. Object-oriented programming offers reusability of code via its techniques of inheritance and genericity. , awareness, and learning to the benefit of information users. This article demonstrates the practical integration of the principles of KM and systems process by the business enterprise of the Defense Threat Reduction Agency The Defense Threat Reduction Agency (or DTRA) is a combat support agency of the United States Department of Defense (DoD) whose primary function is to analyze potential threats to the United States, both homeland and abroad, and provide contingency plans for all such . In this example, a technology-centric approach to knowledge sharing and utilization was adopted to design a simple Web-based system that provided highly needed "how-to" and reference information to DTRA DTRA Defense Threat Reduction Agency
DTRA Dirt Track Racing Association
DTRA Deseret Towers Recreation Area (Utah)
DTRA Data Terminal Ready A
DTRA Defense Technical Review Agency
DTRA Defense Technical Review Activity acquisition professionals. The Acquisition ToolBook's successful development and deployment effectively integrated KM with process management, and it permitted a systemic review of the acquisition process for ineffective procedures and policies
Addressing an Information Deficit Environment
The idea for the DTRA Acquisition Web ToolBook originated as a result of an information environment characterized by acquisition func tional and process informa tion that was scattered Scattered
Used for listed equity securities. Unconcentrated buy or sell interest. throughout a myriad of DTRA Web sites as well as shared and private drives, or it was simply not available in any capac ity. This unfavorable environment was exacerbated be cause DTRA was the merged prod uct of five differ ent defense agencies and programs. It was a hotbed hotbed, low, glass-covered frame structure for starting tender plants. It differs from a cold frame only in that the soil is heated—either artificially as by underground electric wiring or steampipes, or naturally with partially fermented stable manure, which of hide-and-seek information hoarding that was not conducive to efficient acquisition op erations. Information search activities for acquisition data were becoming so difficult and time-consuming that they periodically exceeded the anticipated time for actual task completion. DTRA had to develop an information management system that would centralize cen·tral·ize
v. cen·tral·ized, cen·tral·iz·ing, cen·tral·iz·es
1. To draw into or toward a center; consolidate.
2. and consolidate all acquisition reference information, processes, and procedures into a single page on the agency's main Web portal See portal. . This tool would be a single and easily accessible, centralized cen·tral·ize
v. cen·tral·ized, cen·tral·iz·ing, cen·tral·iz·es
1. To draw into or toward a center; consolidate.
2. , and functionally based repository of approved information, documentation, procedures, references, and processes available to all acquisition professionals.
Acquisition ToolBook is not a large, Department of Defense-wide acquisition system such as the Acquisition Deskbook or the Acquisition Knowledge Sharing System (AKSS AKSS AT&L Knowledge Sharing System (US DoD)
AKSS Acquisition Knowledge Sharing System ). Although those "Big A" portals serve a purpose of acting as comprehensive repositories of acquisition information and collaboration, in the trenches, project managers are looking for Looking for
In the context of general equities, this describing a buy interest in which a dealer is asked to offer stock, often involving a capital commitment. Antithesis of in touch with. smaller, simpler, and faster portals of information to obtain the how-to and reference information needed to perform the acquisition task at hand without extensive data mining and infinite search activities. The ToolBook information environment was designed to make information easily found and accessed through a single location on the agency-level enterprise information system. More importantly, this micro-level site provides agency-specific acquisition information and processes. The ToolBook would serve as the agency's graphic interface, portraying the entire agency acquisition process represented through 24 activity boxes of related acquisition information and tasks.
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The Blueprint to an Effective Information Environment
A DTRA-led team created and posted on the internal agency Web site a detailed process map to guide the agency's acquisition professions. Smaller, simpler, and faster were the hallmarks of the successful acquisition portal. On May 1, 2007, exactly one year from the project start, the Acquisition ToolBook was successfully installed onto the DTRA Web server.
ToolBook is based upon an integration of Microsoft[R] SharePoint [TM),], Adobe[R] Flash[R], and Microsoft[R] net application software tied to a relational database management system relational database management system - relational database (a database in which data and the relationships among data are stored in the form of tables). This combination facilitates simplicity, speed of access and use, and provides system flexibility and a broad array of technical features beneficial to system users. By preventing infinite search activities, ToolBook improves the speed and effectiveness of the user's acquisition task completion. The critical acquisition information provided by ToolBook was tailored to meet the information needs of program and project managers. However, it also benefits contracting officer A US military officer or civilian employee who has a valid appointment as a contracting officer under the provisions of the Federal Acquisition Regulation. The individual has the authority to enter into and administer contracts and determinations as well as findings about such contracts. representatives, contract specialists, and program analysts by assisting them in the performance of their specific acquisition and procurement functions.
ToolBook represents a merger of KM, process management, and operational simplicity--the foundational triad of successful user information systems. Personnel cannot access the information needed if it is too difficult to locate. Whether designing a local information system or a DoD-wide information portal, the fundamental principles of successful Web-based KM systems are the same.
Eight Key Principles of Successful KM-Based Systems
* Minimize bells and whistles A slang English term for exceptional features in some product. In the computer field, it typically refers to functions in software that may be greatly appreciated by some users, even though they may not be necessary most of the time. and maximize quick access and simplicity of operation.
* As the level of site complexity and menus rise, the level of user utility diminishes.
* Needed information should be no more than three-to-five mouse clicks to user acquisition, with three being the technical objective.
* Keep the site menu structure shallow.
* A graphics-based system is normally more user friendly than a text-based system, and a duplex (communications) duplex - Used to describe a communications channel that can carry signals in both directions, in contrast to a simplex channel which only ever carries a signal in one direction. system (a system that uses both functional text and graphic-based methods to retrieve textual information) can be more effective than a graphics-based system alone.
* Focus system design and technical architecture on speed, easy access, and simplicity.
* Accurate and intuitive titling of data descriptors, menus, or entry points is extremely important.
* Organize information by process, activities, functions, and organization as appropriate for your needs.
In this particular architectural design This article or section may contain original research or unverified claims.
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This article has been tagged since September 2007. , the Acquisition ToolBook was structured to follow the DTRA acquisition process from program start to program closeout closeout, closure
the finalization of a feeding program in a feedlot. The cattle are sold and a balance sheet is struck which includes the costs of feeding and housing or confining them. activities (Figure 1). The site's homepage is divided into three broad phases: Early Preparation, Pre-Award Activities, and Program Execution. Early Preparation contains the initial activities required for up-front acquisition project planning project planning - project management and organization. The Pre-Award Activities section includes all follow-on acquisition and contractual efforts to get the acquisition awarded and on contract. The Program Execution section contains information on the post-award phase, which includes program management and oversight activities required to administer and execute a successful program. The ToolBook Homepage graphic portrayal of the DTRA acquisition process is organized into 24 activity boxes that form a logical progression of the work activities required to get an acquisition effort on contract and executed. There is also one box entitled General PM References that contains broad-based or overarching o·ver·arch·ing
1. Forming an arch overhead or above: overarching branches.
2. Extending over or throughout: "I am not sure whether the missing ingredient . . . documents that do not fit into any one activity box category. Although ToolBook is primarily a graphics-based acquisition portal, it is actually composed of a duplex architecture that can use a graphically-based methodology to search and retrieve data or a text-based library view that can quickly locate and more effectively display related task data. The choice of method used is the user's discretion.
There is only one main sub-level menu for each activity box in the main ToolBook that houses the majority of documents, making users no more than three mouse clicks away from most information they need (Figure 2). There is also one third-level menu for unique enterprise-level documents. Within each activity box in the second-level menu are separate icons for the following six information areas: Tools and Examples, Policy Documents, Issuances (which contains guides, manuals, handbooks, etc.), Training, Ask an Expert, and Enterprise-Unique Documents.
Acquisition ToolBook uses a progressive information approach to information classification and management. For example, if a project manager is unfamiliar with award fee contracts and requires information on how to write an award fee plan, ToolBook offers a progressive level of knowledge to help the user get the job done. First, the user would select the Award Fee activity box. When the second-level menu appears, the five main icons provide a graduated pyramid level of information. The Training icon would provide the user with basic information on the concepts, responsibilities, and requirements of award fee contracts and issues. If more detailed information is required, the Issuances icon, which includes an array of in-depth guides, manuals, handbooks, standard operating procedures standard operating procedure Medtalk A technique, method or therapy performed 'by the book,' using a standard protocol meeting internally or externally defined criteria; a formal, written procedure that describes how specific lab operations are to be performed. , and standard operating instructions, will provide a multitude of detailed information on the subject. Once training and/or detailed information is accessed on the subject, the user can select the Tools and Examples icon, which provides the actual examples, checklists, and templates needed to help complete the task at hand. The Policy icon provides any relevant policy memorandums on the subject. As an avenue of last resort, the ToolBook also features a sophisticated Ask an Expert capability that permits users to send acquisition-related questions to agency experts on the subject. For enterprise-unique processes, procedures, and instructions, users can also access their own enterprise's menu of key documents managed by each enterprise.
The Acquisition ToolBook site is designed for a low user investment in time and training, and also for a low administrative burden. Formal training classes are not required--a narrated virtual tour movie provides users with an overview of the entire ToolBook site. A directory of Internet addresses There are two kinds of addresses that are widely used on the Internet. One is a person's e-mail address, and the other is the address of a Web site, which is known as a URL. Following is an explanation of Internet e-mail addresses only. For more on URLs, see URL and Internet domain name. provides direct links to nearly all key agency and DoD acquisition references as well as to Web pages that explain how to perform subsidiary tasks (such as the completion of travel forms required for the Defense Travel System). There are also links for Contractor Performance Assessment Reporting System reporting, DTS (1) (Digital Theatre Sound) A digital audio encoding system used in movie and home theaters. Popularized by the movie Jurassic Park, the six-channel (5. , AKSS, DoD 5000 series acquisition directives, Federal Acquisition Regulation, DoD FAR Supplement, federal grants, the Office of the Secretary of Defense The Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) is part of the United States Department of Defense and includes the entire staff of the Secretary of Defense. It is the principal staff element of the Secretary of Defense in the exercise of policy development, planning, resource Small Business Innovation Research site, Wide Area Work Flow, and a myriad of other valuable Web sites. ToolBook also supports a document search function and a library view capability that can simultaneously display documents by each category for a particular activity box for all documents.
A Successful Knowledge Management Portal
The "little a" principles of acquisition KM appear to apply to "Big A" acquisition portals. Both have a specific set of users who demand similar attributes of system operability Operability is the ability to keep a system in a functioning and operating condition. In a computing systems environment with multiple systems this includes the ability of products, systems and business processes to work together to accomplish a common task such as finding and : operational simplicity, swift data location and extraction, and a logical taxonomy taxonomy: see classification.
In biology, the classification of organisms into a hierarchy of groupings, from the general to the particular, that reflect evolutionary and usually morphological relationships: kingdom, phylum, class, order, and data organization scheme to find and manipulate acquisition data. KM, process management, and operational simplicity--the foundational triad of successful user information systems--were successfully merged with this system. The DTRA Acquisition ToolBook has effectively managed to integrate the positive elements of portal and process development to the benefit of its acquisition workforce.
Dr. Joseph P. Avery
Avery is the DTRA program manager for the Acquisition ToolBook. He has 26 years of military and civilian service Civilian service is service to a government made as a civilian, particularly such service as an option for anti-militarists and pacifists who object to military service. Examples of countries with thriving civilian service programmes are Switzerland (Swiss Civilian Service), , including 23 years in acquisition.
The author welcomes comments and questions and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.