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… IN-PLANTS: Tomorrow’s Knowledge Managers?

Because in-plants reproduce documents containing their organizations’ knowledge, they are uniquely positioned to play vital roles in the organizations and support their strategic objectives and goals.

September 2006 By Wayne Riggall
DESPITE HAVING made the change to digital printing technologies, in-plants may continue to be at risk of being outsourced.

As organizations seeking to remain competitive in the new economy of the 21st century become increasingly knowledge based, in-plants must develop competencies that support Knowledge Management. Given the in-plant’s exposure to organizational knowledge via the documents it reproduces, it is uniquely placed to play a vital role and better support the strategic objectives and goals of the organization.

Look Beyond Traditional Views

By seeking to integrate the in-plant’s capabilities into the organization’s core business processes, in-plant managers are challenged to think in terms of interconnecting activities that occur throughout the organization in support of its strategic objectives. Such thinking requires managers to look beyond the common model of the in-plant as just a business unit. It also encourages them to become more visible throughout the organization and to seek opportunities to observe, understand and influence the trends that are shaping their organizations.

No organization—in-plants included—can expect to survive in today’s hyper competitive business environment without continually improving its effectiveness. Most external competitors, though, have made similar productivity and quality gains, often utilizing the same equipment as the in-plant to achieve a comparable level of operational effectiveness. If the in-plant cannot differentiate itself from external providers through strategic positioning and alignment, it risks being outsourced, especially if the organization measures value only through traditional cost accounting methods.

Knowledge is Capital
Organizations are rapidly changing as they position themselves to compete in the new economy of the 21st century. Knowledge has become capital, as it is knowledge—and the manner in which organizations reuse their knowledge assets—that increasingly influences product or service differentiation.

Organizations are seeking to redefine their visions of the future and identify the competencies critical to success in a global market. It is in this environment that organizations are increasingly outsourcing business units that do not form a strategic fit to the new competencies required. The irony of outsourcing an in-plant is that the opportunity to retain the critical knowledge resources vital to the organization’s future success is often being outsourced too.

The challenge for today’s in-plants lies beyond just changing one method of production for a new process that delivers the same outcome. The challenge and opportunity is in the capture and intelligent management of the document content—the knowledge.
 

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