How Project Managers Can Benefit from Knowledge Management Systems

Project Managers Have to Learn to Deal with Uncertainties and Risks

Project Management is the art and science of balancing competing interests, prioritizing the resources and their deployment, and is also situational in nature meaning that project managers often have to respond to evolving situations and circumstances.

This means that uncertainty and unpredictability are the norms rather than the exception since each day brings with it new surprises and new events and incidents that can test the mettle of the project managers.

For instance, a key resource might quit suddenly or fall sick and at the same time, the client might change the requirements or undergo a leadership change which means that there are new aspects that are brought to the table.

Further, the scope might change, or there might be a change in the technologies being used or the emergence of a new technology that can alter the scope and the direction of the project. Thus, project managers have to be prepared to deal with situations as they arise and learn to manage uncertainty and unpredictability.

Indeed, the day in the life of a project manager is riddled with so many uncertainties that they must be prepared to deal with such risks on a macro as well as micro basis.

Using Data Driven Approaches Combined with Gut Feel for Better Risk Management

A good way to deal with uncertainties is to draw up a risk management plan wherein the project manager lists the risks that can be anticipated to the best of his or her abilities. This risk management plan would have to focus on a quantitative and qualitative enumeration of risks and potential risks and have a contingency plan to tackle such risks.

Apart from this, the project manager can also use advanced technological tools such as Big Data and Artificial Intelligence to map the future challenges in ways that can anticipate much of the risks as far as possible.

Having said that, it is theoretically as well as practically impossible to quantify all risks and this is where the project manager must use his or her Gut Feel to get a “hang” of the situation and proceed accordingly.

This means that adequate planning and thought to accompany such planning must go into making the risk management plan. As the saying goes, In God We Trust and the Rest Have to Bring Data, project managers must use data from past projects as much as possible to identify and plan for future risks.

Indeed, this is where organizational capabilities and capacities in terms of using knowledge and learning from past experience come into play wherein the insights and the data from past projects can be used to prepare and anticipate future risks as much as possible.

How Project Managers Benefit from Knowledge Management Systems

Talking about knowledge from past projects, it is indeed the case that organizations that have good Knowledge Management Systems can help and chip in making the project managers make the transition from newbie approaches to a more balanced and thoughtful and experienced way of project management.

For instance, organizations such as 3M, Toyota, and Infosys have a very decent Knowledge Management System in place wherein they use past knowledge and historical data to prepare templates that Project Managers can use.

Indeed, these days, most reputed organizations have a well planned KM system in place that can be used by the Project Managers to deal with uncertainties and exigencies.

In our experience, multinationals such as Citigroup and Indian firms such as Infosys have data stores that contain templates as well as elaborate risk management and mitigation plans to ensure that new projects have all the necessary information and knowledge in place to help the project managers in dealing with uncertainties.

Personal Sharing and Learning

Having said that, it is also the case that no matter how good the KM system those organizations have, project managers must meet up with other project managers to share learning and insights so that the Human Element and the Human Factor in decision making complements and supplements the needed knowledge that Project Managers gain from KM systems.

Indeed, the best method to follow when dealing with uncertainties is to ensure that other project managers are “in the loop” as far as sharing of knowledge and insights are concerned. Thus, even the best of the breed of project managers must learn from the mistakes and successes of other project managers so that they do not repeat the mistakes and emulate the successes.

Quality Frameworks Such as SEI CMM can Help Organizational Evolution

Talking about learning and repeatability, it is also the case that quality methodologies such as SEI-CMM (Software Engineering Institute – Capability Maturity Model) have defined processes in place to ensure that organizations achieve excellence in their Project Management Processes.

For instance, the Five Levels of the SEI CMM model have well-defined processes so that organizations build capacities and capabilities and then repeat the successes and avoid the failures, and then learn from each iteration so that newer iterations are better than the previous ones.

Thus, the SEI-CMM Model is widely used by services sector firms to achieve a level of excellence where all types of risks are anticipated or at least planned or even have comprehensive risk mitigation plans in place.


Lastly, project management is as much about the science of data driven learning as it is about the art of managing through personal capabilities. Thus, the best project managers are those who combine quantitative data driven approaches with the qualitative aspect of human and personality elements to manage their projects. To conclude, both objective, as well as subjective factors, must be taken into account for superlative project management.

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Project Management