INFORMATION & KNOWLEDGE MANAGEMENT STEP 1: Developing an Information & Knowledge Management System
A project Information & Knowledge Management (I&KM) system is an integral component of project management, particularly within the context of climate change where the context is constantly evolving, and there may be necessary trade-offs between different objectives. The project I&KM system includes, but is not limited to, the monitoring and evaluation (M&E) system. Generally, I&KM for CBA projects should apply the same principles and practices as for development projects. The following sections highlight issues that are unique to CBA and/or that are particularly important in the context of CBA projects.
I&KM Step 1.1: Analyse information and knowledge needs
In order to be effective in managing information as a resource, the I&KM system must meet the information needs of all stakeholders. This includes donors, but the system should not focus solely on donor requirements, as is often the case. Therefore, the I&KM system should be developed based on analysis of the information & knowledge needs of donors, the project team, partner organisations, target populations and other institutions, including governmental and non-governmental organisations in the project area as well as the broader adaptation and development community.
I&KM Step 1.2: Design a system for information & knowledge management
Information & knowledge management are critical components of project design. In order to be effective, I&KM systems should be as simple as possible while meeting the information & knowledge needs of all stakeholders. I&KM is a constant effort and must not be driven by donor requirements, but by project needs to improve impact and learn from the experiences. Monitoring & evaluation is a major component (see I&KM Step 2), but I&KM is broader than this.
The I&KM system must clearly define what data will be collected and by what methods. It must outline how data will be analysed to generate the information needed by different stakeholders. The cost, effort and time spent in collecting and analysing data must be balanced against the relevance and importance of the information that can be generated from analysing the data. To maximize the usefulness of information, project I&KM systems should be linked to a broader programme or country-level information framework where possible.
One of the most important elements of a good I&KM system is a clear and simple protocol for storing information, whether electronically or in hard copy. All members of the project team need to know where information is stored, how they can retrieve it, and how to use it effectively.
Because CBA is a relatively new area, it is critical that the I&KM system put in place mechanisms to facilitate the conversion of information to knowledge. “Knowledge is richer and broader than data and information. It is a fluid mix of experiences, values, contextual information, and insight that provides a framework to evaluate and incorporate new experiences and learning”. 1 This involves creating explicit opportunities for reflection and learning among the project team, partners and other stakeholders. These opportunities should allow for discussion of any changes to the context, evaluation of lessons learned from project implementation, and adaptation of the project approach where necessary (see Implementation Step 4).
In addition to building knowledge within the project team and stakeholders, the I&KM system must set out clear protocols for documenting and disseminating project knowledge (see I&KM Step 3). This should incorporate measures to share knowledge across projects, programs and externally, both within the project country and internationally where appropriate.
It is important that the information system is periodically reviewed and adjusted as necessary to ensure that it is meeting the needs of all stakeholders.
I&KM Step 1.3: Develop capacity for information & knowledge management
In order for it to be effective, information and knowledge management must be the responsibility of all project staff, including partners. For this to work, the project team must understand the value of information and knowledge, and must be clear on their roles and responsibilities for managing this valuable resource. I&KM must be viewed as a fundamental part of each team members’ job description, not an “extra.”
Capacity development for effective information & knowledge management is an integral strategy for project success. This means that project teams must have access to relevant technical expertise, guidelines, training and technologies to fulfil their roles and responsibilities in this area. As well, project teams must be provided with opportunities and flexibility to use information to make decisions, build knowledge and improve CBA project results.
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1 CARE, 2004. Project Management Information Systems: Guidelines for Planning, Implementing and Managing a DME Project Information System.