Another topic that has interested me for a while is the use of Expert Management Systems within organizations. These are effective ways of keeping track of experts within your organization and mining new ones. I had written an article a while ago that talks about this very aspect within organizations.

The challenges of having an Expertise Management System

One of the biggest challenges corporates face is locating experts within their company. It is estimated that companies waste 1000’s of man hours just hunting for the right people. Deals have fallen through, mistakes made all because the right people couldn’t be located in time.

In this day and age where almost all the information we work on is digitized and since most of us are accessible via e-mail, messenger service or through video one would think to locate a person (in your own company) shouldn’t be that much of a problem. Unfortunately, the issue is more with locating the right person than just anyone, and Expertise Management Systems seem to be the best way to manage this.

Expertise Management addresses one of the biggest concerns of Knowledge Management, harnessing tacit knowledge. An average organization converts about 5%-10% of their employees' tacit knowledge into explicit information. Attempting to do so with the rest is a foolhardy proposition, the best way to maximize the use of tacit knowledge is to open up as many channels for that knowledge to flow through your organization. An Expertise Management system does just that. It helps users get in touch with the right people at the right time.

Now we’ve figured out that we need an expertise management system, next comes the question of how to implement a solution like this. Creating a template is the first step, this helps you list out all the information you’d expect to capture from an experts profile in order to help other people locate him/her

The basic processes of an Expertise Management system:

  • Identifying the experts;
  • Describing the expertise of the expert;
  • Providing an expert matching mechanism;
  • Enabling users to communicate with the experts;
  • Providing a feedback mechanism;
  • Managing the process;
  • Identifying "new" experts.

Tackling each of the above steps in a systematic manner and creating a framework around it will give you the first glimpse of your expert management system.

Creating a living expertise management system involves a little more work as the system needs to mine information areas associated with the expert (emails, articles) and update their profile constantly.

The benefits of a system like this are instantly felt with employees being able to get in touch with people they had never heard of before. This allows them to resolve the questions and issues they have a lot faster than if they were to leverage their own people networks.

However, a note of caution. An expertise management system is only as good as the experts contributing to it. If you do not ensure that users have their questions answered quickly, or that experts are interested to participate there is a strong likelihood your initiative will not get off the ground.