Organisations of the 21st century realise that they need to move away from balance sheet accounting systems as the primary tool of management. Intangible assets, such as knowledge, skills and process assets, may be worth much more than their physical assets and require effective management to gain a competitive advantage. Due to the nature of their assignments, management consultancy organisations could benefit even more from leveraging their knowledge, skills and process assets. These firms depend on the expertise of their people, focusing on customer relations, employing multidisciplinary teams of professionals in creatively solving problems in a project management environment. Continuous improvement of their processes and effective reuse of knowledge obtained in previous projects or processes could fast-track solution delivery, reduce costs and consequently increase profits. Many models for process-improvement and knowledge management currently exist, which could be used in leveraging organisational intangible assets. Though the intricate interaction between the domains of process improvement management and knowledge management is clear in current models, a fully-integrated model does not exist. The close-knit relationship between these domains poses the opportunity for integrating improvement models from both domains in synergistically leveraging their improvement results. The aim of this study is to demonstrate the integration possibilities of process improvement and knowledge management in an attempt to improve the practices of both during the same exercise. A content analysis was performed to analyse current improvement models (including performance improvement, knowledge management, process management, maturity and audit models). Maturity models were then selected as a vehicle for integrating the various domains. The selected maturity models were evaluated for comprehensiveness in terms of management consultancy organisations and deficiencies were identified. A blended model was designed (combining and extending current models) and partially validated at a management consultancy organisation. Model validation was enabled by using an appraisal tool (BMAT – Blended Model Appraisal Tool), which was designed and built to incorporate appraisal components from the various maturity models and their required extensions. The results that were obtained from the model validation exercise highlighted organisational problem areas (at the appraised organisation) that would require immediate improvement efforts. The study is concluded by confirming the integration possibilities of process improvement management and knowledge management domains. Further empirical research is proposed for validating the complete blended model.
Dissertation (MEng (Industrial))--University of Pretoria, 2005.