… 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.

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.

Move up the Value Chain

By moving the competencies of the in-plant further up the value chain to encompass the capabilities of content capture, classification, storage, retrieval, re-purposing and multi-media delivery, the in-plant begins to redefine itself in the role of Knowledge Management. Simple examples of Knowledge Management in the context of the print shop might include Web access to organizational policies and procedural guides or online access to high-usage forms.

The in-plant of the future will likely develop competencies in a range of information management activities including capture and convergence, storage and retrieval and integration to critical document processes.

Information Storage and Retrieval
Central to the concept of Knowledge Management is the issue of information storage and retrieval. The design and functionality of these activities can impact how quickly the organization may leverage its knowledge assets.

Historically, trained professionals within specialized units manage an organization’s critical information systems. We know these units as information systems groups, data centers or similar terms. Meaningful alliances need to be established between these teams and the in-plant, since often these units are charged with the development and deployment of organization-wide Knowledge Management systems. Their knowledge of document workflow and critical document processes is essential to the tight integration of the in-plant’s on-demand printing capabilities.

Participation in, or indeed the initiation of, a corporate document strategy is another important opportunity. It can help the in-plant identify possibilities for integration of the organization’s interlinked document processes to its digital capabilities.

Watch Your Step

In-plant managers need to carefully consider their approach to Knowledge Management, as there are many factors which can influence and impede progress. Barriers to success may include the organizational culture, entrenched beliefs within both the organization and the in-plant, access to influential power brokers or champions, the in-plant’s recent history, and the current level of the in-plant’s capabilities.

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