I had a very interesting discussion with the Quality department this week.
I was presenting them rationalK
, the knowledge management tool.
They did not accept the idea very well… They asked me : Why do you want another tool to manage the document, we already have the quality document management system ?
I think they misunderstand the difference between a knowledge management tool and their quality system to manage the company’s documentation.
Here was my answer :
The two tools are fully compatible and have totally different purposes.
Quality Document Management System
- Ensure consistency in the company processes and the corresponding documentation
- Associate a document to a process step
- Guaranty an access to the most up-to-date documentation
- Prevent sensible information from behind freely accessed within the departments
- Most of the documentation inside the quality department are procedures or instructions
- Make sure that documentation follows the company’s guidelines in terms of content and form
- Help the worker to do their everyday work
- Allow to freely work on official documentation without disturbing the quality processes. Documents are considered as draft in rationalK as long as they are not approved by the quality department
- rationalK allows to browse within internet-downloaded documentation, within emails, notes, international norms, patents, project documentation, best-practises and even people’s competencies. This is definitely not possible (and wished) in a quality document management system
- Document in rationalK are living document. They are constantly updated with new knowledge. Their accuracy depends only on the authors competencies
- RationalK has its own access rights policy to easily spread knowledge within the company departments
- In rationalK we have functionally that can link a document with the related official document from the quality department document management system
How they could work together
Let’s say a team of five engineers is using rationalK to manage their knowledge.
Every time that one the guy is doing something related to a project, he naturally stores the document in the project folder. Fine. If he thinks that this knowledge or solution could help the colleagues solving their own difficulties (what is often the case), he add an entry in rationalK. He can type in some tags, a brief description of the solution and of course the link to the file in the project documentation. At this stage we have exclusively used rationalK and no quality document management system ! A co-worker will never upload all the project document to the quality document management system. Thanks god !
Now if the problem-solving method appears to be more and more used within the team, the team manager may find useful to add it as a standard for solving a typical problem. Fine.
Now and only now, we can write a process documentation to be sent to the quality department. They review and approve it and then store it in the quality document management system. This may takes weeks ! In between the solution has improved. rationalK still have the most up-to-date best practises while the quality department system has a general document describing the methodology but the the details.
As a conclusion, I would say that rationalK is a tool to help people do their work according to the quality procedures stored in the quality management system. Quality documentation is the one that define processes on how to work. I really do not believe that any coworker could conduct a project by using exclusively the content of the quality document management system… But combining the two tools is the most powerful way to achieve efficiently the best results.