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Q: Knowledge Management Tool needed for small team ( Answered,   6 Comments )
Subject: Knowledge Management Tool needed for small team
Category: Computers > Software
Asked by: sherpaj-ga
List Price: $70.00
Posted: 11 Oct 2002 21:37 PDT
Expires: 10 Nov 2002 20:37 PST
Question ID: 75603
My team is having a problem.:

Some of us know how to use our various software tools better then
others. Sometimes I figure out how to do something cool, but don’t
have the time to gather up my team members and show them (or they are
busy or not around when I am).  These are things that would be very
valuable to them and could save them lots of time in the long run.

What makes this a challenge is that everyone is very busy, mostly busy
taking care of clients.  When we have our meetings, they are already
too packed to add anything like a software demo.  I am too bust to get
a demo together anyway.

The biggest problem is that we can’t find good software/hardware tools
for doing this kind of basic knowledge management.  Not big tools for
large enterprises, but a small Knowledge Management product(s) that is
simple and priced for small groups like our consulting shop.

I suspect such a usefully little utility is out there, and I just need
some help in finding it.

Here is a summary of what we have tried, why it has failed, and what I
have seen or heard of.

What we have tried #1:  The attempt at an Intranet:
We tried setting up a tiny Intranet.  We asked everyone to find one
cool software thing they figured out or learned, and use MS Word and a
screen capture utility to make up a quick cheetsheet.  We would take
these and export them as web pages (from Word), and dump them all into
a folder on our small fileserver.  We figured that eventually we could
tie them together via a Table of contents web page, and that the thing
would be searchable and browseable via a web browser.

Why it failed:
We were all too busy to put together the cheetsheets.  Here is what
happened to me:

I didn’t have the time to write up some text about what I discovered
that day or week.  To do it right, I would need to spend some time
writing, and then would probably also need to include screen shots,
and maybe some URLs inside.   Word can do all this, and I know how to
do it, and even how to save it all out as a web Page, but to produce
such a thing takes time and focus.  If someone dropped by my desk, I
could just sit at my computer and just show it to them in 5 minutes. 
I forced myself to do 1 or 2 and they took a long time.

Also, we ended up with a folder full of Word file on the local server,
but no easy way to browse or search them.  If you happen to be out of
the office, you could connect to the server and search using the find
content part of the Windows search tool, but this was slow, tedious,
and didn’t do you any good if you were at a client’s site and wanted
to connect via a web browser.  It is often at a client’s site that the
info would be the most useful.  The files were not connected enough to
browse using IE, even when you were in our office.

- CONCLUSTION: The knowledge was too time-consuming to capture.  It
was also too awkward to find later.  But if you did find it, it was
easy to recall the knowledge captured.

What we have tried #2:  Sharing Time at the end of meetings

We tried taking 15 minutes at the end of our meetings to go to the
Starbucks next door, grab a quick coffee, and one person would bring a
laptop and do a quick demo.   They have Wi-Fi internet access there,
so we could even demo web based stuff.  We did a few, and they went OK
but in the end the experiment was only a moderate success.

What it failed:
- The person doing the demo didn’t have to prep a presentation, so no
one wanted to present much.
- Only 2-3 people can crowd around a laptop’s small monitor.  Even 2-3
is hard if you are all sitting around a square table or on Starbuck’s
plush chairs.
- Later on, when people could really use the tips they had been shown,
they already forgot how to do them.  There was no video of the event
that they could quickly find and watch that they could reference at
the moment they needed it.
- CONCLUSTION: The knowledge was easy to transmit, but was very hard
to capture.  It was still too awkward to find and recall the knowledge

The Raw Elements of our Knowledge:
In thinking about how to deal with this problem I started to think
about what the raw elements were that we were trying to capture,
transmit, and recall.

The types of knowledge that we had to share were made up of the follow
tangible elements that can, for the most part, all be easily stored on
a computer:
- Verbal background info (sound files)
- URLs (IE Bookmarks)
- Screen shots (JPEGs)
- Step by Step directions (Word file with numbered steps)
- A software example (folder full of files)
- Someone combing the above into a step by step presentation (???)

Knowledge Management Tools that I saw on the web

I looked on the web, and there are many Knowledge Management tools out
there (see listing below).  The problem is that they are geared
towards enterprise-level organizations.  I didn’t have time to look at
each one, but they seemed like they would be too expensive,
complicated, or big in scope for us to use.

People Go - Knowledge Stays

Sharing is Daring (Review of eRoom and Intraspect)

Google Directory - Reference  Knowledge Management  Software

Collaboration and Knowledge management - Virtual office and
conferencing Tools

Knowledge Management Just-in-Time

How Ray Ozzie Got His Groove Back
Adobe DesignTeam

Knowledge Base software from NovaSolutions

Net-It Central (Intranet Publishing Solution for Collaboration of



The solution that we need:

We need a small Knowledge Management product(s) that is simple and
scaled to a group our size.  Here are some of the requirements that I
suspect such a usefully little utility would need to have:

- Have a 4 to 8 seat licensee (or pricing plan), not be geared for
100+ users.
- Be a hosted service (like an email provider, or other ISP), or an
easy to install program that runs on a simple small office server.  
We do not have a fancy high end server and related IT skills to
configure one or secure such a beast from hackers.
- Be simple to use (i.e. somewhat intuitive).   We don’t have time to
go take a class or learn a significant new software package.
- Not require lots of typing (i.e.  writing more then 1 or 2
paragraphs).  Maybe there is a tool that can capture spoken audio.
- Not require lots of preplanning
- Built in search function
- Ability to search and recall from a PDA or on-line (via a web

Most vendors seem to think that Knowledge Management tools are just
for the Enterprise.   I think that even small group have need to share
things like: best practices, tips, raw knowledge.

Subject: Re: Knowledge Management Tool needed for small team
Answered By: arimathea-ga on 31 Oct 2002 07:16 PST

Thanks for contacting Google Answers!

I think I have just the right tool for your needs.  It is free,
available on multiple operating systems, highly flexible, web-based,
and can with a little effort support your voice capture needs.

First, I want to emphasize that the comments other researchers have
provided are excellent and right on point.  Groove, Lotus Notes, and
some Windows-based products serve your need very well.

Internally at my company, we use a tool called Wiki for knowledge
management.  It is gaining a lot of use throughout the web, in many
corporations, and some variants can be adapted easily to many
different needs.

Essentially, Wiki is a straight-text based system, but most variants
support attaching files, change control, and threaded commentary. 
Authentication and strong encryption can be deployed to protect your
data.  The data is stored in straight text files and can be accessed
by any web browser.  By recording your meetings or discussions and
attaching the files to a Wiki topic with a simple description or
commentary, you can capture your voice needs.  You can also attach
word documents or any other form.  It allows you to have a database
while, not hierarchical, is full-text searchable and very extensible
(look and feel can be highly customized).

Some information on Wiki can be found at:

  TWiki - by Peter Thoeny and company

  C2 Wiki - the original Wiki

  Different Wiki variants:

There are also some tools out there to visualize this type of data.

I have used these tools at several groups - especially software dev
houses - with amazing results.  It takes very little effort to learn
and since all your editing is done with a web browser the learning
curve is very shallow.  Just a few quick syntax pointers and you'll be

For reference, let me talk briefly about the other tools the other
researchers have come up with:

Lotus Notes is a pretty complex system, but highly flexible.  It is
designed to be a single source for your information but still remain
flexible enough to program specifically to your needs.  Think of it as
a "heavy" document management database.  It also supports threaded
discussions, e-mail conversations, and things of that nature.  It is
not that easy to get external data into automatically, though, which
makes it a little limited in smaller knowledge organizations.  It also
has some cost associated with it.

Groove is desktop collaboration software that is designed to draw
several disparate sources of information into one desktop.  It has
specific impact to widely geographically disparate, varied workforces
who have a need to collaborate easily and simply.  Each project can
have its own space, where information is collected.  It is fairly easy
to use, but is still in its infancy.

The Windows tools below are all fairly good.  Without knowing more
about your type of information in addition to what you have said
(specifically, your "working style"), it is hard to judge whether
these tools will be valuable for you.  I would also advise you check
out The Brain (, Inspiration
(, and Mindjet's offerings
(  These are all tools used in many corporate
knowledge management initiatives.

Also consider something like a "networked" version of sticky notes,
there are several out there.

Good luck in your search.  Knowledge management is becoming
increasingly important in today's economy and making an investment in
some of this effort will probably save your organization a lot of

I hope I have provided what you looked for, if not drop a request for
clarification and i'll provide more.


Search methodology:

I have done a lot of work in this area, previously using Google to
conduct many of my searches.  Terms used (in various combinations):

knowledge management tracking free-form text voice "attached files"
"attach files"
Subject: Re: Knowledge Management Tool needed for small team
From: cubist-ga on 13 Oct 2002 00:57 PDT
I don't know if this will help you out, but you didn't mention the
most important Knowledge Management Tool: Lotus Notes. I use it a lot
in my workplace, and it suits our needs. It is simple, has integrated
mail and calendars. You can easily edit a database and put links in
there to any kind of file, even remote.
I know that the original founder of Notes has left Lotus, he
developped a similar web-based application with the same
functionalities. Maybe you better search that one, I saw it at tucows,
but don't remember it's name.
I hope this helps you out,
Subject: Re: Knowledge Management Tool needed for small team
From: bikerman-ga on 13 Oct 2002 05:40 PDT

After more than two hours of research, I'm afraid I don't have
anything that I can be sure will meet your needs, so I'm posting
this as a comment.  Perhaps someone else can provide a more
positive solution.  If you like one of my suggestions, I'll re-post
this as an answer--if no-one else has provided an answer.

Based on your question, I focused my search on Application Service
Providers (ASPs) who provide group-ware and collaboration
solutions.  There are a number of such providers, and most have
reasonable prices for the number of users you have.  However, I'm
not sure that the services they provide are quite what you're
looking for.

Here's a list of online collaboration applications:

You might check into the following providers:

IntraLinks, Secure Collaboration on the Web


Free Conversant
These folks have paid hosting options as well.  This appears to be
more developer-centric, but it might be worth looking into.

Becoming Conversant: A site for Conversant newbies to meet and learn.

I hope you find something remotely helpful here, and I'm sorry I
couldn't find a definitive solution.

Subject: Re: Knowledge Management Tool needed for small team
From: bobby_d-ga on 13 Oct 2002 05:55 PDT
You may find this free software useful:

IntelaDex Knowledge Management for Office 2000 1.2

From the developer: "Manage virtually any information or electronic
documents with ease. IntelaDex is a fully user-configurable knowledge
management solution. Its three primary strengths are ease of use,
flexibility and its patent pending intuitive knowledge search engine.
Configure IntelaDex to track any type of digital information: Document
Management, Contact Management (CRM), Collection Management, Incident
Tracking, Project Management, Investigations, Image and Multimedia
Cataloging, etc. Download and create Application Templates for
exchange with others. Handles over 100,000 objects with over 2 million
attributes. Send bulk emails. Scheduler, Task Manager. Exchange
information with other applications."

or maybe this:

True-Knowledge 3.1 (Free 30 day trial, $85 full version)

"True-Knowledge is a powerful personal and workgroup information
database manager that tracks and manages your formatted notes, tips,
tricks, source code or other text-based information. Intuitive and
powerful, the easy and familiar Windows™ interface (similar to
Microsoft Outlook & TechNet) supports project organization,
collaboration, custom folders, extensive searching, article editor, MS
Word compatibility, WYSIWYG preview and print layout, HTML Help
publisher, SAP note support, import and export utilities, and database
replication and synchronization. "

There are lots of others - check out, and search
"knowledge" (or, with the marvels of technology, you could click on
this link:

I am always wary when answering questions that have high money amounts
in fear that I won't answer them adequately for that price.  I know
this isn't answer quality, but if you are satisfied with one of these
products, please tell me, and I will post it as an answer - and that
goes for the other researchers who have commented also.

Thanks, and good luck,

Subject: Re: Knowledge Management Tool needed for small team
From: rac-ga on 18 Oct 2002 21:51 PDT
   Based on your explanation why the projects you introduced failed my
conclusion was the problem you face is managerial and not technical.
Any knowledge management system however simple it is, Needs some one
to first capture the data.
If people are not willing to spend some time on this aspect whatever
powerful KMS solution will not help you.

The following are the actions done in one of the software company I
The people are encouraged to put what ever they learned in the company
(developed using Lotus Notes) with a search strings and title.
This was related to their job confirmation, promotion etc. The more
quality docs they put the more weightage was given during their job

All the members in the company are encouraged to read the docs in the
intranet regularly and rate about any new docs published. That is give
points to the author. They can propose any new better solution they

The points will be accumulated and awards(not a big one but Generaly
gift cheques) given to the author based on points earned.

This worked well and over the period of time it become normal practice
that  everyone records about they learned as part of day to day

Try to implement a similar methodology customised to your company and
implement it.

Hope it helps.
Subject: Re: Knowledge Management Tool needed for small team
From: bio-ga on 30 Oct 2002 04:16 PST
cubista-ga commented:

> I know that the original founder of Notes has left Lotus, he
> developped a similar web-based application with the same
> functionalities.

He is Ray Ozzie, and his product ( is listed in
the URLs found by the question owner. I would also strongly suggest
using Lotus Notes for such a task. It may not be *that* intuitive in
the beginning, but once you get used to it, you won't look anywhere
Subject: Re: Knowledge Management Tool needed for small team
From: sherpaj-ga on 31 Oct 2002 20:21 PST
Thanks much to arimathea-ga and all the commenters that spent time and
brain cells on my question.  Let me digest all your feedback and I’ll
post a response.  Much appreciated.

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