For the common good

In contrast to the Social Security Administration, getting a buy-in for knowledge management at the General Services Administration's Federal Technology Service (FTS) was not a problem. When they recently set up a new sales office, officials realized there was no way they could develop a corporate sales organization without using knowledge management.

"We had about 1,000 people who, in some way, had to coordinate their activities with customers around the country," said Mary Whitley, assistant commissioner for sales at FTS. "We needed to know what [sales] opportunities were out there for us, and the only way of doing that was to apply a customer relationship management [CRM] process."

Although there was plenty of experience in private industry about how to apply CRM, what wasn't available was a way of automatically retrieving relevant data from GSA databases that could be used in the process. The sales office recently began a 65-user pilot project that employs tools from Siebel Systems Inc. Unisys Corp. is implementing the toolset, and integrating data from the GSA data warehouse.

It's the use of the data warehouse that Whitley believes could provide a lesson for knowledge management projects at other agencies.

"One of the major complaints about using knowledge management is by people who say they are asked to put a large amount of information into the process and get nothing back from it as a result," she said. "If we can prove that the data in a data warehouse can be reconfigured to the individual benefit of various users, that could be a big advantage."

About the Author

Brian Robinson is a freelance writer based in Portland, Ore.

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