ISO KM standard now available for purchase
More details on the standard
More details on the standard
Thank you for your interest in our Unlocking the value of knowledge – Introduction to BSI ISO 30401 Webinar. You can download the presented material below.
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|The international committee at work on the standard this week.
That’s me on the far right. Photo by Avigdor Sharon
This week, in Paris, the ISO working group finished work on the final draft of ISO Management Systems standard. Here are some facts about the standard, a description of its development, and a discussion of some of the benefits.
First of all, some reassuring words about ISO standards in general and the KM standard in particular.
The standard will not try to tell you how to do KM. This would be crazy – every organisation has to do KM in a way that suits their purpose, objective and context. What the standard does is makes sure you have set up a good management system, to provide solid foundations on which to build your KM solution.
The standard is not just for big companies. We have tried to make it flexible enough work for organisations of all types and of all sizes.
The standard will not require you to be externally audited. It’s primarily for your own guidance, with internal audit as a good practice if you so choose. Only a small proportion of the ISO standards are regularly audited using external auditors, and 90% of audit work is against only 5 standards (9001, 14001, 18001, 27001, 45001); the other 22131 standards mostly never get audited. There would need to be a reason for external audit,for a KM standard and then a set of accredited auditors willing to do the work, and I can’t see either of these being viable for KM, which is relatively niche when compared to topics such as health, safety and quality. The KM standard will be an aid for self-audit and self-examination rather than a requirement for accreditation.
The standard will not take ages to implement. There are 49 uses of the word “shall” in the standard, each of which marks a requirement, but many of those are sub-requirements to a larger requirement. There are maybe 25 or 30 things you need to be able to demonstrate in order to comply with the standard, and the chances are you do most or all of these already.
The standard does not mandate how you implement KM. Top-down, bottom-up, middle-in-out, guerrilla KM, agile KM, or KM as a change program – implement it as you see fit and at your own risk. The standard describes requirements for the final product, not how you get there.
The KM standard will look very much like other ISO standards. That’s because all the ISO management systems standards use the same structure and much of the same text. You can see the mandatory generic text here. The introduction and annexes are unique to the KM standard, but these do not contain any requirements, but are instead explanatory.
Work on the standard started in 2015 and was conducted by an international committee supported by mirror committees in the main involved countries. Several sessions through 2016 and 2017 created a draft version of the standard, which was judged in late 2017 to be ready enough to open for public comment. You can buy a copy of this draft standard here. It will cost you 58 Swiss francs.
The draft was made available for public review and comment over a 6 week period in Dec 2017 and Jan 2018. Hundreds of comments were received. The British site alone received about 350 comments – some of them one-liners pointing out spelling mistakes, others suggesting rewordings for entire sections. Many of the comments gave alternative views on the same points, and needed to be balanced and reconciled; others suggested alterations to the mandatory text which ISO requires to be used. The British working group went through each comment, identifying 270 suggestions to be referred on to the international committee.
This week the committee reviewed the referred comments from all 15 contributing countries – 420 comments in all – and discussed each one, making edits to the text as appropriate. We finished the job, and the standard now goes to ISO for proof-reading and for translation into French, German and Russian. We expect it to be ready for purchase in September, if all goes well.
I presented on the standard at KMUK this week, and in discussion afterwards we identified several benefits the standard will bring to knowledge managers:
All comments welcome!
|KM working team – me third from left|
You know the story of the blind people and the elephant, each intepreting the animal in different ways. The person holding a leg says “The Elephant is a sort of tree,” the one holding the ear thinks it’s a sheet, the tail holder says it is a snake.
I have worked on Knowledge Management for a long time and I thought I knew what the KM Elephant looks like, but it struck me in the detailed discussions with other experts that maybe I was looking at the Elephant out of proportion.
“Culture is everything in KM” was one view. “If you don’t have the culture in place, then nothing else can happen. It’s the most important thing”.
“Culture is an output” was the other view. “If you have the right processes and procedures in place, then the right culture will happen. Processes and procedures are the most important thing”.
How could we have such different views?
Thank you to the ISO team members for helping me see the proportions a little better.
Good Knowledge Management is increasingly becoming an expectation on organisations; from clients, from customers, from governments and from contracts. If you cannot build enough support for Knowledge management inside your organisations, look out for these external factors.
I posted a while ago about how I was beginning to see KM appearing in tender documents for government and for major clients. Here some example clauses from real contracts;
“the contractor shall employ knowledge management systems and processes to promulgate knowledge and experience resulting from the service to the user community”
“The contractor shall provide the following … A knowledge management systenm to promulgate lessons learned, good practice and to facilitate improved maintenance and operation”
We have also seen Knowledge Management beginning to be part of big-company suppler audits. In one example, the client fed back fed back to one supplier that
Given the two trends above, we have been approached by service companies that wanted to demonstrate to clients that they were competent operators, and part of that would be to demonstrate a good KM system, because “our customers will expect us to do KM”.
In several cases, we have been approached by organisations as a direct result of audits by the big consulting companies, who have identified deficiencies in Knowledge Management, and made recommendations that these should be addressed. This is perhaps unsurprising, as the big consultancies are among the leaders in KM, and can recognise when it is not being applied.