A revolution in the sharing of knowledge…

Transforming e-Knowledge
TABLE OF CONTENTS     Infrastructures, Processes, Capabilities, and Cultures   © SCUP 2003
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Value on Investment (VOI) — A New Benchmark (continued)



Chapter 5

Infrastructures, Processes, Capabilities, and Cultures

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Process reinvention and innovation are the most widely applied component of VOI. Enterprises have been using new enterprise application infrastructures and solutions to change what they are doing and how they are doing it. To achieve such reinvention, however, enterprises must get past memories of past experiences of business process reengineering.

Limitation of Business Process Reengineering. The knowledge management literature is awash with analyses of the failures of the round of business process reengineering (BPR) in the 1990s, which was supported by first-generation knowledge management tools and philosophies. Early BPR focused on productivity gain (efficiency), treated knowledge as a “thing,” failed to recognize the richness of employees’ tacit insight and underestimated the importance of the social elements of knowledge ecology. BPR failed to take a systemic perspective. The personnel reductions and reallocations of energies made by first-generation BPR helped enterprises trim costs, but many enterprise processes suffered.

Today’s approach to process reinvention begins by taking a systemic perspective and understanding the importance of all elements of the knowledge ecology. Moreover, the focus is on not just enhancing productivity, but on changing the dynamics of enterprise processes through collaboration and innovation. Experience has shown that process reinvention can yield a wide range of advances, ranging from the incremental to the transformative.

Incremental Business Process Reinvention. The emergence of early examples of the next generation of enterprise application infrastructures and solutions provides many opportunities for process reinvention. Technology-driven process reinvention is enabling colleges and universities to refashion their processes, policies, organizational structures, and relationships with stakeholders of all kinds.


For example, in the 1990s, the University of Delaware used technology-enabled process reinvention to create its ground-breaking “student one-stop shopping” facility and to reshape the dynamics of its relationship with students. This process of continuous reinvention has continued through today, using portal technology and Web services.

Even today, many enterprises have made process reinvention a fundamental element of their selection and implementation of ERP. They have discovered that process reinvention and measurement of the resulting changes in performance continue throughout the entire ERP project life cycle process. Some early successes in process reinvention are possible during the planning, acquisition and deployment phases. However, experience has shown that the full potential of incremental process reinvention will only be achieved after the enterprise has experienced the best practice processes embedded in mature ERP products. The full benefits of process reinvention will come through continuous improvement during the experience and improvement phases. Measurable improvements can be realized during the first two years of the process and can continue at significant levels for seven or eight years — or even more.

The University of Minnesota has used the development of its portal as a vehicle for reinventing its ERP-based processes. In the process, it has reshaped its relationships with students, faculty, and staff. Minnesota used portal-based e-business to simplify the ways in which users “experienced” the University’s core processes and services. Focusing initially on essential core services (admissions, registration, communication, and the like) the University has progressively extended its reinvention to include other academic and administrative products, services, and functions. These innovations have changed the dynamics of how users engage university products, services, and knowledge, enabling individuals to “self-serve” more of their needs for knowledge and services.


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  Knowledge often walks out the door during downsizing.

Thomas Davenport
and Laurence Prusak.