Knowledge and information evaluation practice - an exploratory study in a construction firm

There are a number of challenges associated with managing knowledge and information in construction organizations delivering major capital assets. These include the ever-increasing volumes of information, losing people because of retirement or competitors, the continuously changing nature of information, lack of methods on eliciting useful knowledge, development of new information technologies and changes in management and innovation practices. Existing tools and methodologies for valuing intangible assets in fields such as engineering, project management and financial, accounting, do not address fully the issues associated with the valuation of information and knowledge. Information is rarely recorded in a way that a document can be valued, when either produced or subsequently retrieved and re-used. In addition, there is a wealth of tacit personal knowledge which, if codified into documentary information, may prove to be very valuable to operators of the finished asset or future designers. This paper addresses the problem of information overload and identifies the differences between data, information and knowledge. An exploratory study was conducted with a leading construction consultant examining three perspectives (business, project management and document management) by structured interviews and specifically how to value information in practical terms. Major challenges in information management are identified. An through-life Information Evaluation methodology (IEM) is presented to reduce information overload and to make the information more valuable in the future.