Explorations of knowledge management in a defence engineering environment
This thesis originates from first hand early experiences of the researcher regarding current processes and practices in operation in BAE SYSTEMS Ltd (now referred to hereafter as `the Company'), and recognises the potential for improvement within the realm of knowledge management. The huge volume of internal and external information overwhelms the majority of organisations and knowledge management provides solutions to enable organisations to be effective, efficient, and competitive. The software agent approach and information retrieval technique indicates great potential for effectively managing information. This research seeks to answer the questions of whether software agents can provide the Company with solutions to the knowledge management issues identified in this inquiry and whether they can also be used elsewhere within the organisation to improve other aspects of the business. The research analysis shows that software agents offer a wide applicability across the Company; can be created with relative ease and can provide benefits by improving the effectiveness and efficiency of processes. Findings also provided valuable insight into human-computer-interface design and usability aspects of software agent applications. The research deals with these questions using action research in order to develop a collaborative change mechanism within the Company and a practical applicability of the research findings in situ. Using a pluralistic methodology the findings provide a combination of the subjective and objective views intermittently within the research cycles thereby giving the researchera more holistic view of this research. Little attention has been paid to integrating software agent technologies into the knowledge management processes.This research proposes a software agent application that incorporates: (1) Co-ordination of software agents for information retrieval to manage information gathering, filtering, and dissemination; (2) To promote effective interpretation of information and more efficient processes;(3) Building accurate search profiles weighted on pre-defined criteria; (4) Integrating and organising a Company resource management knowledge-base; (5) Ensuring that the right information gets to the right personnel at the right time; and (6) So the Company can effectively assign the right experts to the right roles within the Company.