The National Academies

NCHRP 23-17 [Pending]

Assessing and Measuring the Business Value of Knowledge Management

  Project Data
Funds: $550,000
Contract Time: 24 months
Staff Responsibility: David M. Jared



About 40% of the workforce in most state departments of transportation (DOTs) will be eligible for retirement within a few years, taking with them significant institutional knowledge. Collaboration and interdisciplinary work are also increasing the need for effective, efficient, and timely knowledge transfer. State DOTs and other transportation agencies can benefit from knowledge management (KM) techniques and practices to help identify, capture, and transfer institutional knowledge and support continuous learning.


State DOTs use metrics to measure and monitor the effectiveness of activities conducted by their organizations, including KM. According to NCHRP Report 813: A Guide to Agency-Wide Knowledge Management for State Departments of Transportation, “knowledge management” is a general term for techniques used to preserve and enhance the knowledge of an organization’s employees and effectively employ that knowledge as an asset. KM comprises the set of principles and practices an organization can use to identify, capture, organize, preserve, disseminate, and apply critical knowledge in pursuit of the organization’s strategic mission. The goal of KM is to enhance organizational effectiveness and efficiency by facilitating mobilization and productive employment of this knowledge. KM includes people, processes, technology, and content (i.e., data and information). KM also includes tangible and intangible benefits, e.g., increased productivity, reduced costs, institutional knowledge retention and transfer, organizational resilience and agility, and employee job satisfaction.


Many state DOTs implement elements of KM using strategies such as workforce and succession planning, learning communities, networking, knowledge sharing, and information technology. Federal agencies and the private sector have experience with KM, and many have established methods and metrics for managing their KM programs. While state DOTs are making progress with integrating KM practices into many of their business practices, they generally lack experience with measuring the effects of these new activities and understanding what obstacles exist to successful deployment, e.g., cultural factors and unfamiliarity with KM benefits. Research is needed to identify useful quantitative and qualitative approaches for assessing and measuring KM.




The objective of this research is to create a guidebook that will help state DOTs:


1. Develop KM assessment and measurement methods relevant to state DOT business practices;


2. Improve agency leadership understanding of KM connections to other organizational practices;


3. Identify options for placement of KM programs within organizational structures; and


4. Foster internal partnerships that support knowledge retention, sharing, and development in state DOTs.


Accomplishment of the project objective will require at least the following tasks.




Task descriptions are intended to provide a framework for conducting the research. The NCHRP is seeking the insights of proposers on how best to achieve the research objective. Proposers are expected to describe research plans that can realistically be accomplished within the constraints of available funds and contract time. Proposals must present the proposers’ current thinking in sufficient detail to demonstrate their understanding of the issues and the soundness of their approach to meeting the research objective.


Task 1. Explore the methods for KM assessment and measurement used in the public and private sectors through literature review and interviews with KM professionals.


Task 1a. Review literature and research in progress. Both domestic and international resources shall be consulted and include resources (1) within and external to the transportation sector; (2) from the public and private sectors; and (3) that are broader than KM, e.g., organizational assessment and measurement methods/tools and their application to KM.


Task 1b. Identify stakeholders to be engaged in Task 2 and develop a stakeholder engagement plan. Stakeholder engagement will serve at least three purposes: (1) elicit information that adds to the body of knowledge about KM; (2) identify preferences for the content of KM assessment/measurement guidelines; and (3) identify opportunities and barriers for accelerating the implementation of KM in state DOTs, including, but not limited to, cultural factors impacting cross-organizational partnerships and knowledge behaviors, and opportunities and strategies to foster and enable desired behaviors.


The rationale for stakeholder selection shall be provided along with an interview guide describing the objectives of the interview and the questions to support the objectives. Stakeholders should include, but not be limited to, representatives from public and private organizations within and outside the transportation sector, KM stakeholders and partners, the AASHTO Committee on Knowledge Management (CKM), and the TRB Standing Committee on Information and Knowledge Management (IKM).


Submit Technical Memorandum 1 covering the findings of Tasks 1a and 1b. Present findings to NCHRP at an online meeting. NCHRP approval of Technical Memorandum 1 is required before proceeding with subsequent tasks.


Task 2. Engage stakeholders and develop a draft guidebook outline.


Task 2a. Engage stakeholders pursuant to the approved interview guide developed in Task 1b. Summarize the findings of the stakeholder engagement. Submit Technical Memorandum 2 summarizing the results of Task 2a.


Task 2b. Develop a draft guidebook outline. The outline shall include, at minimum, consideration of the following:


·         Definition of terms

·         Institutional processes illustrated by graphics and templates

·         Business value measures

·         Employee incentives for knowledge sharing

·         Matrix of personnel required for KM assessment and measurement

·         Tools and technologies for assessment and measurement

·         Identifiable steps to implement assessment and measurement

·         Risks associated with implementing KM systems

·         Emerging KM tools and processes


Submit Technical Memorandum 3 summarizing the results of Task 2b for NCHRP review. NCHRP approval of Technical Memorandum 3 is required before proceeding with subsequent tasks.


Task 3. Submit the interim report. An interim report shall be submitted summarizing the findings of Tasks 1 and 2 and include the draft guidebook outline. Present findings to NCHRP at an in-person interim meeting held at the TRB offices in Washington, D.C.  The meeting will be hosted by NCHRP, which will also be responsible for the cost of panel member travel to the meeting. NCHRP approval of the interim report is required before proceeding with subsequent tasks.


Task 4. Develop a draft guidebook and convene a focus group webinar.


Task 4a. Develop a draft guidebook. The guidebook should be targeted at multiple audiences, e.g., executives, practitioners, and KM champions, with the use of visualizations and other methods to enhance usability and guide the incorporation of KM into organizational practices.


Task 4b. Convene a stakeholder focus group webinar. The goal of the webinar is to collect feedback and validate the draft guidebook. Key stakeholders for the focus group shall be made up of knowledge managers and organizational decision-makers within the transportation sector. Incorporate stakeholder feedback into the draft guidebook as appropriate.


Task 4c. Develop outreach materials, an implementation plan, and a slide summary, based on the findings from Task 4b.


Submit Technical Memorandum 4 covering the findings of Task 4. Present findings to NCHRP at an online meeting. NCHRP approval is required before proceeding with Task 5.


Task 5. Submit the final report and remaining project deliverables. Final deliverables include (1) the guidebook; (2) outreach materials; (3) a conduct of research report describing how the research was conducted; (4) an implementation plan; and (5) presentation slides summarizing the research and its results.


Proposals were received in response to the RFP.  The project panel will meet to select a contractor to perform the work.

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