Last year, I wrote a column entitled, “Do You Have a Chief Knowledge Officer?” (webcpa.com/article.cfm?articleid=14079) aimed at encouraging smaller accounting firms to think about applying knowledge management concepts in their firm operations. One example I gave was an accounting firm that had different individuals responsible for certain subject matter and practice areas so they could inform other firm members by e-mail alerts of important developments.
CPA2Biz, the distribution arm of AICPA, just released the next generation version of its Web site (cpa2biz.com), which showed me another facet of knowledge management. What I recommend is that one person in the firm spend some time on the redesigned site and identify what tools, many of them new, are particularly useful, and publicize the information within the firm. This information can be kept on file on the firm’s Intranet, or simply in an e-mail archive.
Three tools that I found useful are:
1. A left-navigation area that allows you to search by topic, job area, and product type, and then further refine your search.
2. A compare tool where you can compare up to four products you found, side-by-side.
3. My favorite is, when available, to see the table of contents of a publication. I looked at the one for Compensation as a Strategic Asset, a new AICPA softcover (Product# 090493) and quickly saw the wide scope of the publication, which tells me that the book would be very useful for a firm overhauling its compensation system.
There are other nice features and I understand user reviews will be added in the not too-distant future. The same technique can be applied to the other major publishers of material for accountants.
With the turnover in staff and fact that we all are very busy, it makes sense not to reinvent the wheel and utilize fully what technology offers just by tapping into the firm’s developed knowledge base. It will save time and increase the chance of finding the desired material.
A similar approach can be applied to software applications used by the firm. Those firms that have a suite of products from one vendor are able to do it the easiest. That is why so many of these firms are sending individuals to user conferences given by suite providers.
Knowledge management takes many forms, and though the larger firms were to first to grasp its importance, there is no reason why smaller firms can’t develop their unique form of knowledge management that can be incorporated formally into a number of their operations.
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