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June 04, 2012

Application of KBAM

actionplan.jpgWe are all good in theories, and we all at some point of our lives say that we have to do this, we have to do that etc. But we stack on the application of that something that needs to be done. Why is that?

Because the application is always something that is hard to be achieved. But again, why? Well, because when we are thinking of something that needs to be done, we just think the end achievement and not what is going on in between. But even if we think what is happening in between there is always something that we will miss. This might be other things happening at that time, it means the feelings that we may have at that point, other commitments, etc.

So when we say we need to manage our knowledge, our outsourcing, health and safety, security etc services we need to have an applicable plan that needs to be done. Most of the times people feel motivated and committed when they see that small things had been achieved and implemented successfully. Thus, a big goal that it might be managing the organisation's knowledge had to break into smaller, short-term actions that can be implemented faster and easier so that managers and employees feel that they gradually achieve stuff. One smaller goal might be database creation for storing important information about a service.

Thus, we reach at the point where strategic planning shows its importance. When we are thinking of implementing theory in a successful and efficient way we should plan, plan and plan.

I didn't say something that most of the people don't know but I just highlighted the importance of planning when a company considers to apply something. Additionally, what will make a plan even more successful is the continuous control and update of the action steps but also the completion and evaluation of results when an action is achieved.

Outsourcing management

Most of the companies nowadays while trying to control their outsourcing services, they find many difficulties because as you may know when a company chooses to outsource a service it looses the complete control over that service. Thus, companies try to build outsourcing relationships and then try to manage them.

Imagine how hard is for a company first to find a good provider that will provide a service in the quality and price standards that the company wishes, and second build also relationships with that provider. If it is just a single provider then this might be an easy work to do, because the company will have all its attention on that contractor and control its relationships more efficient. If an organisation has more than one contractor then things become more complicated and complex but manageable.

In that case the company will appreciate a good knowledge management system while this will control the information on whether the relationships with a provider are good or not, whether a provider offers services of a good quality and price, etc.

Concluding, when things get more complex in the firms day to day operations then it will appreciate knowledge management, however this an efficient and effective knowledge management should be established from the starting point so that the company specialises at it and improves it in hard times so that it can get the best out of it and hopefully earn a competitive advantage.

Why is that important? While at the starting point the advantages of a knowledge management procedure might not be that obvious, the benefits that will come at the end will be more than the owner or/and manager can imagine.

This can be used when managers are thinking stratigically and build their long-term strategies. They should consider to do things that will benefit the company in the long run right?

May 12, 2012


How hard it is to get yourself through the same procedure we got ourselves while trying to prepare the KBAM presentation? I found my self been frustrated while I couldn't reach to an end from the vast literature out there. So many information not knowing from where to start. This was happening for 2 days. First day started reading whatever, struggling to make a structure in my mind. The second day I tried a different approach while seen that the previous one didn't work. Then again feeling frustrated. Third day, finally manage to create a structure in my mind. After all the approaches that I used offer at least a small stone each for getting me into the right direction.

What have I learned? That while I was feeling frustrated and wanted to stop I never gave up. First day was working for 6 hours, second day for 11 hours, third day for 10 hours and wanted to keep working. So even that I couldn't reach an edge all those hours weren't lost. This is not a lesson for the module but lesson in life. If you are working in a company and trying so hard to solve a problem but can not reach to an end, don't give up. Your efforts won't be lost. Whatever you do you learn something out of it. As Thomas Edison said " I didn't fail. I just found ten thousand ways that didn't work." But also while trying to work on something you improve the way you are going to approach a problem the next time.

Dealing with huge chapters as Knowledge and Asset Management, and being able to understand and apply them, then that is a really great achievement for your future employment because "business" is by itself a whole huge chapter!!!!

Good luck with your PMAs and your future jobs!!

May 11, 2012

Outsourcing, outsourcing, outsourcing!

outsourcing1.jpgWhy should a company been concerned about outsourcing?

Outsourcing might be one of the most important and crucial activities a company has to deal with. That is because a company can not do everything by itself, or at least can't do everything perfectly and better that other companies. For that reason outsourcing is really important for organisations who wish to have competitive advantage against their competitors.

Also, outsourcing might be the activity that will give a compatitive advantage to the comapny but also an activity that puts the company into a greater risk.

Quinn in his articles about strategic outsourcing (1999 and 1994) is suggesting that a company should identify 2 or 3 core competencies and all the rest could be outsourced strategically. That means that is should be companies that offer better and more competitive services, companies that are willing to continuously improve etc. Also, if the company chooses providers from any kind of geographical area it should bear in mind the transportation time and costs and whether that is feasible to provide an excellent performance or not.

Also for been protected from the providers to enter the direct market it should build and strengthen its core competencies and then build strategic blocks that will protect the company from the providers and other potential competitors.

How this can be used for the future? For companies who wish to be leaders and want to have be competitive in the market they need to know how to outsource. And the more you outsource the better you become (according to Quinn). Thus for people that already are running their own businesses or wish to build their own businesses "outsourcing" is an important activity that they should bear in mind and take the advantage of.

April 28, 2012

Presentations in KBAM

Managing time in presentation while including so many information is not an easy job to do. While doing the presentations on Friday, two teams didn't manage to finish their presentations within the 20 minutes time given.

As I was discussing this with a classmate from a different team after the end of the presentations and I though it was about practising and communication with the team members. But after from what also Paul said is about what kind of information and slides you choose to include in your presentation. You can choose to present only 3-4 key slides which represent a more holistic view of what you are presenting and you can talk more time on each. Also, since we had the chance to have a portfolio which was summarising our work we could present only the elements we thought were important and leave the less important elements (which anyway were included in the portfolio).

However, my question is: What can we do if we don't have the chance to have a portfolio which summarises everything? How shall we present in order to include all the important information needed to sell our ideas?

Some steps that we've already implemented were: avoiding the theoretical information and concentrate more on the practical ones, use images of maybe some models and describe the practise of those models, and be prepared to provide the details at the end of the presentation while questions will be made.

This is important from all the individuals in a later stage of their lives when the time is limited and short presentations can be made to the potential stakeholders.

So what do you think? Is there anything more that could be done for including everything you want to say in a short presentation?

April 27, 2012

Setting priorities

Asset management is about many things done well!

Asset management includes so many areas that a company should control. One of them, the facilities management, which might be be biggest chapter of asset management contains some aspects that could at some point overlapped. What I've notice is that those areas shouldn't be treated differently. So for example the property management is highly linked with safety management so for example if the company decides not to buy a different building because is too expensive they should consider that the safety standards of the old building and if it doesn't meet those standards, then a new building should be purchased, or the old building should be repaired either if its expensive or not.

And companies should be aware that investment is anavoitable at some point if they want to manage their knowledge and assets. Of course there are many things that could be done in a lower or even in no cost.

So when companies set priorities to different elements and action steps they should bear in mind different factors such as costs, safety, security etc. that might be contradictory at some point and thus they should find the balance between them.

This information was important for me because even when a company is in a crisis and can't spend much for implementing some actions they shouldn't put at risk their employees or customers safety etc.

April 26, 2012

Team work in KBAM

While reviewing and bringing all the parts of the individual work together, I've notice that there was not a lot of work to do in terms of transforming each aspect of the asset or knowledge management in the same form. Also, I've noticed that there were some aspects that contained similar action steps and those actions steps, in the short, mid and long-term, weren't contradictory.

This indicates a good team work from every individual, same direction and thinking, and good participation and commitment or even engagement to the task.

This statement might be kind of contradictory to a previous blong entry that I've posted which was descussing the difficulty facing to bring all the team members at the same direction. While at the starting point the direction and task wasn't clear enough for all the team members and we didn't knew what each had to do when we set individual tasks, at the end when we were combining everything it showed that team members understood the same things and manage to implement their task in the same way and form as everyone else. So I want to thank everyone in my team for their commitment, interest and engagement into the task, and well done to our leader for leading this difficult exercise to a successful implementation!!!

From this experience I've understood how important it is to communicate information and keep in touch with all the team member continuously, for sustaining the same direction.

In future terms this would indicate to me the a seemingly unclear and vague direction for a task, if the communication of information and with every team member is done in a regular and continuous basis, won't be that hard to implement and fulfil the task without additional effort for bringing every element in the same form.

April 24, 2012

Outsourcing vs in–house

Today we had our seminar on Outsourcing and the criteria a company should consider before outsourcing any aspect from asset management.

From what have been mentioned and discussed in the class is that outsourcing has to do with:Outsource

  • Company's strategy and core capabilities
  • Cost vs benefits that the contractor will offer
  • The risks underlying under outsourcing (because you partially loose the control of the service you outsource)
  • The reputation that the contractor has and whether a contractor for providing a particular service exists or not
  • The experience the company has with outsourcing
  • The relationships that can be build between the contractor or not
  • etc.

We've also talked about what are the services you could outsource which core competences should not be included. Any other service could be outsourced.

However, what none of the teams mentioned during the presentation of their ideas was that one element that you should take into account before outsourcing is also people. For example if the distribution is made in-house and you want to outsource it then you need to be aware of any potential reaction and resistance from the employees to accept and cooperate with the other company. Also, you need to remove their fear of been the next department to be outsourced etc.

After all it's all about people isn't it?

Any step you make you should consider people. They may not take part for making the decision but they may participate in some parts of the decision and the succesful implementation of the decision. For example you have decided that the distribution will be outsourced but you could ask the opinion of the employees on which company to choose etc.

So it is really important to cinsider people because it may be better for the company but it may fail because of the people.

In future this will help me think better before outsource a service when I manage to build my own company!!!

Knowledge vs asset management

Is quite weird that i never notice that some procedures we were doing in Red bull in Cyprus as part of our job, was under the huge chapter of knowledge and asset management.

Red Bull's agency in Cyprus, while I was working there, was Cosmos trading which is a distribution company. So the Red Bull department was huddling the marketing part and Cosmos trading the distribution.

Now I can realise how important is for a company, or two companies, or even more to have good relations and manage the knowledge and assets into an integrated system.

Basically there are two things that I want to discuss:

First is that Cosmos was responsible of course for the situation of the cars etc, but they were doing the maintenance and control in-house. So employees were responsible for knowing when the cars needed service, oil check etc. However, company was providing the empoyees every month with a sheet where people had to fill. The sheet inlcuded information about the car, km, wheels, water, service info etc and employees had to take the car to a near gas station for making the check (which was for free). Everything then was transfering in a database electronically where the situation of all cars was written. So the managers and people at upper levels knew any potential problems or need for service etc the cars needed, as well as the monthly cost per each car.

As we can see the information was coming from the shop floor people to the managers so they could identify and control better one of their major assets (since they were distribution company), their vehicles. Also, Red Bull's employees were doing the same for their cars and giving the information to Cosmos trading.

The second thing i want to discuss is one of the problems we were facing during work. One of our tasks was to do merchadising to different outlets (kiosks etc.). Basically we were checking the products on the shelf (rows, expiration dat, trays etc.) and we were fixing them. The outlets we were visiting was by area. But there were outlets that had bad relations with Cosmos trading and they were buying Red Bulls from other company (which was bringing from another country). So the problem we were facing was that some customers didn't let us fix the appearance of the products on the shelfs because of the bad relations they had with the distributor company.

As you can see from two different examples that I've mentioned information is managed well at one area and not that well in other area. The examples had both to do with the facilities management (property and contract management) but also knowledge management. So it is not only how you manage your assets (vehicles or contracts) but also how you pass the information across to those they need to know. First example showed a good knowledge and asset management but the second showed a bad both knowledge and asset management. That was because the relationships and contracts with retailers weren't good at some level and that information didn't reach to us which we were visiting those retailers.

I know that at some point a company might not do well with every contractor, but this information had to reach to people they needed it.

So for me is important that the company should know what does well and maintain or improve it and what doesn't do well and minimise or eliminate it.

If i had the knowledge about asset and knowledge management at that particular situation I would suggest a solution to that problem, or a plan on how they could deal with it and share the information. Because i believe that ideas come from every level of the organization and even if my opinion wasn't picked as the solution at least it was going to be considered and enriched from creating a more robust solution that could feet better on the organization's policy.

Situation awareness

AwarenessToday we've had a workshop on situation awareness which I found quite interesting because it gave me a different perspective of human errors and why those happen.

It said that situation awareness starts from the knowledge we already have in our heads, then it described three different errors for making bad situation more likely to occur, and then it described four different factors that affect the level of situation awareness.

The three errors were:

  • Information error: where the correct information is not picked up (observed), the information is not available, are difficult to detect, or there is a memory error
  • Interpretation error: where incorrect conclusions are drawing from information people have due to their incorrect mental model and
  • Anticipation error: where people don't remain sufficiently alert and thinking ahead for considering what might happen.

Mental model is the picture we create in our mind based on the experience we gain and it shows us what it should be.

An incorrect mental model could be appear when there are different situations and they apply the same mental model; when people have been taught a wrong model from people who didn't know; when people refuse to adapt and change etc.

Additional to that, people create kind of confirmation bias where they see what they want to see because its easier to accept and they don't have to take actions.

Then the four factors were:

  • Workload
  • Stress and fatigue
  • Training and experience and
  • Clear goals and objectives

Here the situation awareness comes at every level because is the leaders that can control those factors and not the employees.

So whose responsibility is if an accident happen?

The importance that this knowledge had for me was that it gave me a different view of the occurrence of human errors but also, greater responsibilities for the employees.

In the future this information will give me the ability to care more about people, and investigate more the information people need for preventing an accident to happen; or if the accident happen (which is pretty likely to happen as in all organisations) then investigate more the causes of the accident before blaming.

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  • Hi Fotini Your comments are much appreciated and it seems that the workshop was helpful to you! It i… by Marjorie Walsh on this entry
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