Knowledge management means making use of individuals' knowledge so that it can be deployed in organizational learning. These are five initiatives that have been useful over CODESPA’s years of experience in managing knowledge. They can be useful for other organizations.
1. Systematization processes in development projects
Systematization processes allow for making knowledge tangible, including methodologies, results and lessons learned from projects. We are interested in documenting processes, tools, good practices, and more specifically, failures and pitfalls during a project.
Systematization processes can be materialized through different types of publications, such as project reports, methodological guides and technical notes, depending on their intended public and use. CODESPA has developed a range of publications accessible at: http://www.codespa.org/aprende
Having these methodologies and lessons learned in “black and white” allows us to replicate or adapt them in other contexts and promote a culture of organizational learning that will redound to the benefit of project interventions in the future.
2. Toolboxes and process maps
These are documents (usually an Excel) that gather the main components of a project, its phases, activities and the tools associated with them in a very schematic way. These can be easily completed by anyone that has participated in a project. Any other member can access and use these tools (saving time and resources) for similar interventions, so that they do not have to “reinvent the wheel” each time a project starts. This clearly adds to the efficiency of an organization.
3. Knowledge workshops
These are internal and international meetings to discuss technical issues. We use a free communication platform, where each time a member presents a methodology or discusses the main limitations or challenges they face in different delegations, they share it with the institution. It is easy to organize and summarize and has no cost. It is an opportunity to deepen common knowledge in technical matters.
4. Learnings from projects (LAPs documents)
These are internal, brief, and direct documents in which we collect lessons learned from different actors involved in a project. It is forbidden to talk about what we have done. Instead, the focus is only on what we have learned.
These LAPs can be used as a “closing file” of notes when a project ends, and also to summarize main conclusions and recommendations from evaluation reports so that they can be accessible to all the organizations. These documents are among the most valuable within the organization as they record a set of useful lessons to consider for similar interventions.
5. Monitoring tool that integrates knowledge management
This is a document (in Excel) that captures the main results, indicators, processes and tools used. It has incorporated a section to write the principle lessons learned and conclusions, at the same time technical teams monitor results and analyze why indicators have –or have not– been achieved and which indicators proved most useful. This tool allows a knowledge management to become truly integrated in project monitoring.