Making IT Decisions Good to Great: The Contextual Knowledge Framework Part II

Nancy Frick | November 7, 2016

This is a continuation of a guest post from Nancy Frick, read part 1 here.

Analyzing a set of information and setting context to that information produces Contextual Knowledge. Having contextual knowledge allows all consumers of the information to gain the same knowledge in order to make comprehensive decisions. The challenge with knowledge is figuring out how to recognize, generate, manage and share it.


A typical IT project has artifacts like a business case, roadmap, and a work breakdown structure. This is all good information, but do we really understand where the project gaps are and what to do about them? To make good decisions, each artifact needs to be broken down to its atomic parts and the relationships understood between the atomic information within the artifacts.

To analyze the atomic information, each artifact is instantiated by breaking it down into the following components:


By breaking the artifact down into the above components, a common framework can be created and the process to build knowledge can begin.


The common framework with atomic artifact parts gives the ability to add context to the information in order to generate knowledge. The goal here is to understand what is known and unknown for each topic so that the project team has a vision of what needs to be discussed and what decisions have been made.

Once each artifact is broken down, the following framework dimensions can be set to specific values so the information can be converted into contextual knowledge:



The one constant in the IT project world is change. Technology, decisions and directions are constantly changing throughout the project lifecycle so it becomes important to track the history of options, baselines and impact to understand the path forward. The key to lean knowledge management is having each topic be concerned with its own knowledge and how it is connected to other pieces of knowledge. By breaking up the artifacts, assigning context and having one source of the truth, decisions can be localized to specific issues. The benefit is that each change does not require a full impact analysis to determine next steps and faster decisions can be made.

Wisdom is gained by the collaboration, decisions and knowledge collected throughout the project lifecycle at different times by all team members.


The major focus for gathering Wisdom is to share the knowledge with the appropriate decision makers in a way that they can easily consume it to make good, quick and comprehensive decisions. Decisions are made on contextual knowledge so reporting needs to be targeted to the consumer. For example, a project manager and developer make different decisions and therefore, need different knowledge.

Each consumer will have a separate persona with respect to what they are looking for and how they want to consume the knowledge. The benefit of having one source of the truth for all the knowledge is that reporting can be “just-in-time” for the decision needed.

For example, if I wanted to report all questions across solution artifacts then I would need a Knowledge Framework to pull the following criteria.




We’ve partnered with Nancy Frick, VP of analysis at RMO Technologies to bring you this post. Download the full article, Making IT Decisions Good to Great: The Contextual Knowledge Framework to continue reading.