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Effective Knowledge Management in Agile Project Teams

SECOND EDITION

Impact and Enablers

Paweł Paterek,

AGH University of Science and Technology

Cracow, Poland

 


Abstract

Nowadays, rapid response capacity of organization is a very important in business due to the strong market competition. Large-sized enterprises are providing advanced business services and products to their customers through complex, innovative and unique projects and programs. One of the key challenges in the project and program management is the right knowledge management. The appropriate selection and effective application of the most valuable knowledge is the essential concern in project management.

The main goal of this article is to present the impact of knowledge management on Agile project teams. The article identifies also key enablers for effective knowledge management processes in Agile project teams.

Empirical research studies were conducted in large ICT and IT organizations based on triangulation of research methods: a questionnaire survey, own observations and observations of other Agile project team members’ and interviews with Agile experts’.

Primarily, effective application of knowledge management solutions in Agile project teams is important for collaboration of project teams; moreover it is important to the whole level of an organization. The research results showed four key effectiveness enablers of the knowledge management processes: a learning organization, an organizational strategy, an organizational structure and an organizational culture, with the latter indicated as the key success factor of Agile project teams and Agile organizations deployment.

Key words: project management, knowledge management, process enablers, agile, organizational culture.

JEL code: D83, M14, O22.

Introduction

Contemporary organizations are delivering increasingly complex and advanced products and services to their stakeholders and customers. Complexity, communication and operation scalability are driving them towards project- and task-oriented enterprises. Following this approach, several project management methods were developed in the last few years. A number of Agile project management methods has attracted attention very recently (Medinilla, 2012; Goodpasture, 2015; Maximini, 2015) as they work towards increasing effectiveness and speed up delivery of customer products and services.

On the other hand, a strong market competition has raised a lot of challenges to the effective knowledge management in the large-scale organizations. Digitization and pervasive Internet access highly increased the volume of data, information and knowledge shared within organization and within its business environment to the unconceivable order of magnitude, causing an increased impact of the effective knowledge management on large-scale project organizations (Mueller, 2015; Santos et al., 2015; Wyrozębski, 2014). The just-in-time and fast application of the most valuable knowledge in customer products and services is a key competence of the large project organizations needed in order to gain a competitive advantage.

The main goal of this article is to present the impact of knowledge management to the Agile project teams. The article also indentifies the key enablers for the effective knowledge management processes in the Agile project teams. The empirical research results have revealed a significant impact and importance of the knowledge management to the Agile project teams, to the collaboration between project teams and to the whole organization and its stakeholders as well. The research results showed four key effectiveness enablers of the knowledge management processes: a learning organization, an organizational strategy, an organizational structure and an organizational culture. The author’s empirical research results are confirmed by and complemented with a review of the existing literature in the field presented in this paper. The aim of this paper is not to focus on improvements and enhancements in these four key identified enablement areas; still some interesting examples of practical solutions may be found in the unpublished author’s MBA thesis (Paterek, 2014).

The empirical research study was conducted in large ICT and IT organizations with triangulation of the research methods applied: a questionnaire survey, own observations and observations of other Agile project team members and interviews with Agile experts. The sampling frame limited only to large ICT and IT organizations is potentially one of the key limitations of this research. Another limitation may be the number of responses; nevertheless, it was mitigated by the number of valuable observations and expert’s interviews. At the same time, these limitations indicate some potential directions for the future research in the field.

The structure of the paper is as follows: the first part discusses the research results; the second part contains conclusions, proposals and recommendations. The first main part is also divided to subchapters; with chapter one presenting a review of the existing literature, chapter two – the methodology approach, chapter three – the research results and finally, chapter four discusses the research results.

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Editor’s note: Second Editions are previously published papers that have continued relevance in today’s project management world, or which were originally published in conference proceedings or in a language other than English. Original publication acknowledged; authors retain copyright. This paper was originally presented at the 5th Scientific Conference on Project Management in the Baltic States, University of Latvia, April 2016. It is republished here with the permission of the author and conference organizers.

 



About the Author

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Pawel Paterek

Cracow, Poland

 

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Pawel Paterek has been working in the telecommunications industry, especially in TETRA public safety communication solutions, for over 11 years. He holds a bachelor’s and master’s degree in telecommunications engineering. He has also completed postgraduate studies in: IT project management, human resources development and finally MBA program. He is currently a PhD student with a specialization in management sciences. The areas of his scientific interests are: project management, knowledge management, Agile, organizational culture and quality assurance. He has been working as a Project Manager for over 7 years in the telecommunication software quality assurance projects, both with using waterfall and Agile methodologies. He is the author of several scientific publications.

Pawel can be contacted at [email protected].