Bert''s Bonsai, Other Subject

Bert’s Bonsai is a small company, started by a retired plant scientist, which sells Bonsai plants, tools and materials to cultivate them, and literature in book and magazine form. They were an early adopter of electronic records, and are still happily using an Amiga-based picture-and-text database for their plants from which they produce a catalogue they send round to the local gardening and florist shops as well as mailing to the special interest groups. Their mailing list is also maintained on the Amiga.
Bert’s Bonsai has now been bought up by the proprietors of a garden-supplies franchise. The franchise have been advised by their (overworked and unenthusiastic) IT staff that the material currently in electronic form is next to useless, and it would be best to start again; this has led to some legal dispute between the former owners of BB (who point out that conversion between digital formats is always possible) and the purchasers (who have to rely on their staff for opinions). The director of the franchise who organised the deal would like to know why BB can produce better catalogues and mailing list on a 25 year old Amiga than his staff can with a 2 million dollar IT budget.
The immediate challenge is to incorporate the plants and tools components of the stock into the greater franchise stock-lines with minimal fuss, and convert the mailing list and distribution list into the franchise’s own versions. This also includes getting a web-presence for the new (combined) catalogue as well. The director in question wants to improve the current cataloguing and mailing practices to be at least as good as BB’s. The IT staff are resentful and look to be uncooperative.

Case Study 1: Aquatic Sport Museum
The Aquatic Sport Museum was formed when a local government acquired several bankrupt museums featuring historical materials pertaining to swimming, lifesaving, sailing, waterskiing and canoeing that had been created at the height of the America’s Cup celebrations in Fremantle, Western Australia. There are 5 separate collections involved, which were merged with materials donated by local sporting clubs and the collected records of sporting organisations that have since ceased functioning. All of these materials are now going to be housed in a converted passenger shed on a wharf.

Each of those original museums had to keep to a standard to get permission to operate as an approved tourism venue, but standards for museum management have changed since then, and the DOS or Amiga machines that the digital records are kept on are not certain to work for much longer (if they work at all). There are also lots of minutes of meetings to do with the different organisations, and thousands of photographs and motion film, none of which has been digitised. There is a small library of reference material to do with local history, and to do with the history of the aquatic sports in general. There is also a large collection of clippings from newspapers and magazines. As well as the realia (physical items), there are a lot of digital artefacts with full metadata provenance as they have come from the local council where such things are done to an ISO standard.

There are rival plans to deal with the gathered historical artefacts: one is to house all of the material in one collection and get rid of duplicate and inferior material, and to pursue a line of investigation that gets more detail from the individuals who are still alive about the material. The other plan is to try to have sections reflecting the original collections and the purposes they served, and try to build up material about the institutional presences behind them.

As this is primarily a real-world physical exhibition, they need to get a standard catalogue in place, but are keen to get a web presence going, with digital artefacts complete with metadata presented in such a way as to get visibility with search engines. This means compliance with best practice Dublin Core, as well as collection-level metadata for the material with a particular provenance. Finally they need to organise all of the additional information (the oral history, the clippings etc) in a way that lets local historians do research.
They need advice on how to best prepare a knowledge management system to serve their purposes.


Requirement How expressed
Metadata policy Published, standardised and adhered to
Systematic approach to document creation Mandated situations for creating documents and mandated procedures for how to go about it
Common term set (vocabulary or ontology) Published set adhered to, preferably in conformance with industry standard
Understanding of organisational needs
Organisational aim (or aims) unambiguous and clearly stated
Clear statement of needs at the operational level Telos (purpose) for organisation expressed in practical terms as (e.g.) a mission statement, procedures, targets, outcome projections
Systematic naming process for documents Naming and locating of documents carried out systematically in accordance with a rule set
Chain of custody for documents Responsibility for document clearly established at all times
Clear process for decision-making Chain of command and ultimate responsibility
Awareness of structure of organisation Unambiguous logical schema for organisation
Documentation of processes (minutes, memos etc) Organisational procedures published and adhered to

To Do:

Answer all of the questions below, for both case studies.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Present your report for each case study in its entirety – i.e. answer questions 1-5 for Case Study 1, then 1-5 for Case Study 2. It makes it much easier (for both you and me) to see the issues and solutions for each organisation, and to follow your reasoning.

Preliminary investigation

1. Carry out the preliminary investigation of the organisation and yourself in relation to it, as follows:

a) Give an initial appraisal of the organisation’s aims and preparedness for a knowledge audit. In your assessment, consider specifically whether it is:
as discussed in Topic 6. Note that while you should consider the items in the checklist in carrying out your appraisal, you do not need to address each of the items in detail here.

b) Give an assessment of your own preparedness in undertaking the knowledge audit for the organisation. In carrying out your assessment, make use of the issues of expertise, ontological structure, background knowledge, opinions and prejudices, and tacit components of knowledge, as discussed in Topic 6. What areas of knowledge do you need to research to bring yourself up to speed?

c) Give your assessment of whether it is worthwhile proceeding with the knowledge audit, based on your findings above.

Assuming it is worthwhile proceeding with the knowledge audit (hint: it is worthwhile for each of the organisations!) continue to the next part of the assignment.

Knowledge Audit

2. Commence the knowledge audit by identifying the knowledge gaps and blockages in the organisation, as follows:

a) Consider each of the ten checklist issues listed, and assess from the case study whether the organisation addresses them well (needing no further attention), adequately, or whether there is a problem. Justify your assessment in each case. Take some time to do this part of the assignment thoroughly.

b) Where you consider that more information would be needed to properly identify the knowledge gaps and blockages, outline your strategy for finding out this information.

c) Include a list of sources you have consulted in carrying out your investigation so far (for example: books, journals, Internet sites). Give the complete reference using Chicago/APA format.

3. Summarise the organisation’s KM goals, and state which issue you consider to be the organisation’s most pressing problem in achieving their goals, explaining your reasons.

Fixing the Knowledge Gap: Planning

4. Now commence the ‘Fixing knowledge gap’ phase by identifying the broad nature of the solution required, as follows:

a) Wherever you have identified the organisation has a problem in the checklist of issues, suggest the nature of the solution required to address the issue (bridge the knowledge gap). This solution needs to be in broad terms only: you are not recommending particular vendor products as yet. (See the section ‘Hints: how to go about the research’ for some pointers.)

b) Include a list of sources you have consulted in carrying out your research for this stage. Give the complete reference using Chicago/APA format.

Fixing the Knowledge Gap: Solutions

5. Having identified the knowledge gaps and broad plan for fixing them for your chosen organisation, now proceed to recommend a solution it can implement.
a) Briefly describe the extent of IT infrastructure (hardware, application software, operating system, networks) already present in the day-to-day running of the organisation. (Some of this information may be stated in the case study, for the remainder you should make an educated estimate and explain your reasoning.) This infrastructure is what your proposed solution will have to work with (by building on/ extending/ replacing).

b) Summarise the requirements for a Knowledge Management System for the organisation, and create a list of suggested software packages that will build on the existing infrastructure and assist the organisations in reaching their KM targets. Use the hints in section ‘Hints’ in your research.

c) Describe any potential problems that could arise with implementing your solution in the organisation. What would you do to avoid or minimise these problems?

d) List the sources for your solutions. Give the complete reference using Chicago/APA format.

Posted Date: 3/25/2013 10:01:45 AM | Location : Singapore

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