Forget the walls, disparate offices;

intranets bring everyone together
The “information highway” only tells part of the story on how individuals and businesses are using the Internet and intranets to become more efficient.
Knowledge management takes the information highway to the next level. It involves taking the information available on the ‘net and within data bases and using it to advance individual and company-wide knowledge.
SPS Productions, an animation and Web design company based in the Technology Innovation Center on the Milwaukee County Grounds in Wauwatosa, is an example of how knowledge management tools can work for small companies.
When SPS Productions started out four years ago in the Technology Innovation Center, the entire staff was located in one small office. Sharing information and checking schedules was a matter of leaning over a desk.
As its staff expanded to seven people and the company moved from one office to six adjacent rooms, it became apparent that tracking everyone down for meetings was no longer the most efficient method.
Multiple rooms and the “business-card book” are what prompted the company to investigate an office intranet using Lotus Notes, says co-owner Randy Berdan.
“We used to have this business-card book where we kept all of our clients’ cards,” Berdan says. “So every time you had to make a call, you’d have to walk over and look it up.”
That method worked well in the one-room office at first. But then people would take cards out and fail to return them.
“That’s what really made us look into using Lotus Notes,” Berdan says.
Anyone within SPS can check the schedules of the other employees to plan meetings.
Berdan notes that since SPS only has seven employees scheduling is relatively easy. But SPS clients such as theBrady company, with multiple locations and multiple conference room sites, utilize the program for maximum efficiency.
It eliminates memos which inquire about the three best times and dates to meet and the constant telephone tag that often precedes office meetings, Berdan says.
SPS has taken Lotus Notes to another level as well. The old business-card book has been converted into an electronic data base giving everyone on staff the ability to look up client phone numbers and faxes instantly. In addition, the system has fax headers for each company and tracks fax correspondence. It can also limit access to documents or portions of documents depending on who is doing the correspondence search.
As with many efficiency systems, SPS’s is only as good as the information people share. If employees are resistant to diligently entering information in their calendars, scheduling meetings using Lotus Notes becomes ineffective, Berdan notes.

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