knowledge management solutions
Alan Zisman (c) 2006 First published in Business
Business in Vancouver February 21-27,
2006; issue 852
High Tech Office
to access what we already know can be a challenge. A trio of local
companies offer various options for collaboration, compliance and
Yaletown-based Blast Radius is
perhaps better known as what the company's Robert Miller
describes as a "customer experience innovation firm." Over the past
decade, it has helped corporate clients such as Nike, BMW,
Nintendo and Electronic Arts
build marketing campaigns around "high design" websites. Less well
known is a software division that provides tools to help "deliver the
substance that goes beyond the flash," with XMetal, a cross-Canada
product that migrated from Toronto-based SoftQuad to
Ottawa-based Corel before settling in the West Coast.
According to Blast's Michael
XMetal, which is built on XML standards, enables real-time
collaboration between multiple subject matter experts (technical and
legal, for example) to build online documents. Changes are stored
behind the scenes, which helps provide the record-keeping needed for
compliance with ever-stricter regulations, and hides complex data
structures behind user-friendly interfaces.
can be reused in various ways, including online, print, customer
support and marketing, and revised as needed. Companies requiring
multiple language versions of documents benefit because only changed
content needs translation. The result can be much quicker (and cheaper)
production of complex and content-rich documents.
Kitsilano architecture firm
was looking for help with the deluge of paperwork associated with ISO
9001 certification. Finding no software designed for small or mid-sized
firms, the company built its own.
using it internally for a year, Eco-design is making Quality-Works.net,
which it describes as a "unique turnkey professional office mounted on
the Web" available to other architecture and construction-engineering
firms. The Web-based interface can be used across computer platforms
and is described by Eco-design.ca's Brian Palmquist as "feature
Bundling 200 industry-standard
activities and 400 tasks with relevant code information, content from
the Royal Architecture Institute of Canada
and more, it enables builders to look at multiple building projects by
individual floor, building or project and generate work plans complete
with instructions for each task.
documenting the many steps required for a building project, the
software simplifies creation of insurer-required project summaries and
other documents. The software supports multiple users, is customizable
to fit a range of building projects and bundles a large collection of
codes and other documents. A free trial version is available from
www.quality-works.net. Subscription pricing will start soon at $150
While Blast Radius' XMetal and
Eco-design.ca's software rely on Web-based standards, South Granville's
ECL Computing works with Richmond consultants Design
Dogz to help clients build customized knowledge management
solutions based on Microsoft Outlook and Microsoft's Exchange
and Sharepoint server products.
As Design Dogz' Chris Burt
points out, "Everyone already owns them."
As a result, they have helped
organizations such as chartered accountants Manning Elliott
maximize investments already made in software and hardware. According
to ECL's Edward Lee,
because so many business users already use Outlook for e-mail and
calendars, it's a familiar interface, helping to reduce training costs.
As an example, ECL built an inventory for Richmond City that tracked
tools across multiple worksites to ensure that teams had access to
required tools and manuals as needed. Another project helped city
management track WCB claims as employees moved across departments.
a variety of ways, each of these locally based companies is helping
clients get a better handle on the knowledge that's scattered
throughout most organizations.