Documents are commonly managed through the use of "Meta Data". Meta Data is used for the classification of the document and includes such tags or knowledge as the project the document belongs to, the document type (commercial, legal, correspondence, Minutes of Meeting etc.), the date of the document, its origin and other such Meta Data which I refer to as "Constant Knowledge". The Meta Data that classifies the issued document accompanies it throughout its lifecycle.
Some documents have an additional layer of knowledge which is dynamic, complex, and needs ongoing management. I refer to this knowledge as "Dynamic Knowledge". The Dynamic Knowledge has a binding relationship with the documents: its' status is derived by the status of the documents related to it.
In projects, especially large ones, many processes are managed in parallel and with multiple occurrences. The processes are accompanied by large quantities of documents that are produced in a very short time, and with them, arises the need to manage large quantities of Dynamic Knowledge.
Dynamic Knowledge is knowledge which is part of a process managed in the project. It starts under a specific status and moves along milestones or destinations until it is completed and closed. It needs to be managed in processes across organizations and projects such as Changes and Claims, Handovers, Milestone Management and in Civil Engineering projects, Structures (elements), Work Breakdown Structures (WBS), Design Review and more.
A common Dynamic Knowledge process is the Transmittal – the submission of documents for a review of an entity (client, authority), where a reply is expected within a specific contractual timeline. Multiple document management systems handle the issue of Transmittals, but what about all the other Dynamic Knowledge?
In this article, I will demonstrate Dynamic Knowledge focusing on the Project Milestone Review and Approval Process, which is a contractual obligation, and often results in a financial transaction once the milestone is approved. The review duration as well as the response due is to occur according to the contractual obligations – a specific number of calendarial days or working days. The timeline in which the process is completed may have financial implications when answers due are late for example.
Dynamic Knowledge: Project Milestone Review and Approval Process
The Dynamic Knowledge in this process includes: milestone status; milestone due date; contractual obligatory dates such as the response date; milestone approval date; payment date and more.
All the above Dynamic Knowledge is managed on two levels: Planned and Actual. While preparing a coherent plan enables the ongoing methodical management of the Milestone Review and Approval Process, the documentation of the actual status and relevant dates (versus planned) enables the management of the process through an updated status report online, the sending of reminders to relevant project participants and raising "Red Flags" when necessary, all which are an integral part of project management.
The Milestone Review and Approval Process and the resulting financial transaction, produce large quantities of documents of different sorts: Transmittals, official and unofficial correspondence and technical documents including As Made documents, quality reports, certificates, manuals etc.
Multiple Systems Management of the Process – Challenges
The above process is commonly managed in multiple systems:
This may be performed via a dedicated Document Management System or a common folder structure.
Related documents are saved in a specific milestone dedicated are, and may include the "Constant Knowledge" such as document type, date, etc.
The handling of drawings, specifications and reports which are version controlled is complicated and may require to save a document in multiple locations, especially if the milestone is not approved in the first review and documents need to be resubmitted.
Maintaining availability of all documents according to their related Knowledge – Dynamic and Constant.
A dedicated software system: manages milestones in a dedicated system or in Excel files.
Maintaining the history and traceability of the Dynamic Knowledge – Excel files as well as some systems do not enable the tracking of the Dynamic Knowledge's history.
Maintaining connectivity between the Knowledge (both Dynamic and Constant) and the relevant documentation.
Following up on the status of the Dynamic Knowledge including "raising flags" and reminders to relevant position holders.
The Solution: Integrated Management Approach
The Integrated Management Approach enables the Knowledge Management and Document Management processes to be managed in one place, allowing numerous advantages:
A single system, with permissions as per role, is more efficient and easier to use than multiple systems – All Project Documents & Knowledge are in a single logon.
Knowledge and Documents managed in a single system are directly connected and related to one another.
This connection enables the management of the milestone in a manner that it may be marked as "Completed", only after all documents have been reviewed and have received the status of "Approved".
Enables the management of large quantities of documents in repetitive processes containing Dynamic Knowledge in an accessible and simple way to maintain.
In our example, enabling the management of most updated documents when multiple submissions occur, including automatic status management.
Allows updating document status and maintaining an updated status of both Dynamic Knowledge as well as the related documents.
Knowledge traceability is maintained as one can review all Dynamic Knowledge values and statuses in the relevant previous process stages.
This traceability enables the review of changes made to any Dynamic Knowledge.
A well-designed Knowledge and Document Management System should support the Dynamic Knowledge management processes, in addition to the Meta Data (the Constant Knowledge) used to manage the documents.
The topic of the next article will be:
How to optimize your Changes and Claims Management Processes in large projects.