A methodological proposal to benefit from team knowledge. An experience in a Mexican SME dedicated to the design of electromechanical devices

Date08 August 2016
Publication Date08 August 2016
AuthorAlonso Perez-Soltero,Humberto Galvez-Leon,Mario Barcelo-Valenzuela,Gerardo Sanchez-Schmitz
SubjectInformation & knowledge management,Knowledge management,Knowledge management systems
A methodological proposal to
benet from team knowledge
An experience in a Mexican SME dedicated
to the design of electromechanical devices
Alonso Perez-Soltero, Humberto Galvez-Leon,
Mario Barcelo-Valenzuela and Gerardo Sanchez-Schmitz
Universidad de Sonora, Hermosillo, Mexico
Purpose – This paper aims to propose a methodology to develop an organizational memory to benet
from team knowledge and to make the design of electromechanical devices processes more efcient.
Design/methodology/approach Different frameworks and methods were analyzed from
literature, obtaining key ideas to be included in the methodology developed and considering other
approaches to apply in team knowledge about design processes. The research was conducted as a case
study in a Mexican small and medium-sized enterprises dedicated to the manufacturing and installation
of electromechanical devices where the methodology was implemented.
Findings – A ve-stage methodology was developed which consisted of preparation, identication,
capture & storage, dissemination & application and nally the evaluation & feedback stage. An
implementation of the described processes was carried out, which was materialized into a technological
tool that represents the organizational memory where knowledge was captured, organized and
Practical implications – This study offers guidelines that can be applied in other organizations
where team knowledge on design processes have not been adequately used for company’s
improvement. The application of this methodology could be a strategy that enabled team knowledge to
store their experience. This knowledge could then be consulted and recovered by the workgroup in an
effective manner to solve new problems.
Originality/value – A methodological proposal to develop an organizational memory about team
knowledge was developed. To evaluate the impact of the methodology implementation, a variety of
indicators were proposed, which were classied as economic, organizational and performance
Keywords Methodology, Electromechanical devices, Engineering design, Organizational memory,
Team knowledge
Paper type Case study
1. Introduction
According to McMahon et al. (2004), knowledge management (KM) has been identied
as a key element for engineering businesses in the twenty-rst century. Economies have
transformed from dependence on materials gathered with little knowledge involved, to
the use of more intellectual content. With this transformation of societies based
primarily on industrialization, to those dependent on exploitation and use of
accumulated knowledge, the so-called productivity of the “knowledge worker” has
become a crucial issue.
The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available on Emerald Insight at:
Received 1 August 2015
Revised 28 December 2015
26 January 2016
Accepted 10 February 2016
VINEJournal of Information and
KnowledgeManagement Systems
Vol.46 No. 3, 2016
©Emerald Group Publishing Limited
DOI 10.1108/VJIKMS-08-2015-0043
It is clear that in these organizations, teamwork and the knowledge workers have is
fundamental and must be shared through a collaboration among them (Davenport and
Grover, 2001;Roworth-Stokes, 2010;Singh and Gupta, 2014), and that they will
contribute to the improvement of the processes and problem solving (DeChurch and
Mesmer-Magnus, 2010). Garcia-Fernandez (2015) mentions at the group level,
knowledge may be encouraged by means of teamwork, through quality circles, periodic
departmental meetings or work teams. Different authors as Das et al. (2010) and Zhang
and Cheng (2015) have analyzed the team knowledge from companies especially in areas
related with engineering design. Fully aware of the impact that information
technologies and team knowledge benets (Reid et al., 2015), there also exist limitations
in its documentation process, so that the generated experiences are not properly
exploited to be reused in new designs (Mezher et al., 2009;Jensen, 2012;Chandrasegaran
et al., 2013).
Research has been conducted, and methodological proposals have been suggested to
capture and document team knowledge on engineering design in areas such as software
development (Henninger, 2000), consulting (Mezher et al., 2009), automotive
manufacturing (Toussaint et al., 2010), construction (Park et al., 2013), just to mention a
few; as well as the development and use of technological tools that facilitate knowledge
sharing among team members (Zhen et al., 2013;Reid et al., 2015). The previous
approaches do not integrate the way through which the designs are documented, the
tacit/explicit knowledge that should accompany the designs and the way to measure the
effectiveness of the design process.
In most countries, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) make up the vast
majority of rms, and account for a substantial share of gross domestic product (GDP)
and the workforce (Lopez-Acevedo and Tinajero-Bravo, 2010). SME’s have staff with
extensive experience and knowledge that was developed through group activities for
specic engineering projects such as device designing. Unfortunately, in the context of
an SME, this knowledge is not documented and therefore is unavailable for new projects
and the same problems are solved repeatedly. The problem is that the team generated
knowledge is not documented nor adequately exploited to favor its reutilization. This
problem takes place on a recurrent basis in the SMEs (Park et al., 2013). In the
engineering design process, it frequently occurs, that at the end of the design stage,
blueprints, diagrams and manuals are the only stored documents to be used for further
reference. Ideas, design hints, suggestions and best practices generated by the technical
staff and that emerge during the design process of the electromechanical devices are not
documented. Frequently, it is necessary to carry out designs similar to the ones
previously stated where a knowledge reference is needed but not available. This
situation signies an unnecessary waste of time when trying to nd a solution to
previously solved problems. This has a major impact in the organizational costs by
increasing the amount of time invested for the projects.
In the Mexican scenario, the trade agreements of recent years and the high impact
SMEs have on job creation opportunities and domestic production, make SMEs the
backbone of the national economy (ProMéxico, 2015). According to information
provided by the National Institute of Statistic and Geography (INEGI by its name in
Spanish), the Economic Census (INEGI, 2011) shows that the micro, small and medium
enterprises (known in Mexico as MiPyME) make up 99.8 per cent of the total of 5,144,056
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