Through the knowledge lens

KM adventures in project-land


Advances in Project Management Series


By Judy Payne, Eileen J. Roden, Steve Simister

United Kingdom



Knowledge management (KM) is a holistic, cross-functional approach focused on ways organisations create and use knowledge to improve outcomes (Association for Project Management 2019; BSI 2018). KM has been around as a discipline and organisational practice since the early 1990s but is still a relatively new concept in project environments. Although KM is widely practised in project work, managers don’t always recognise the knowledge aspects of their work and tend to treat KM as a series of discrete activities rather than as a way of making project work produce better outcomes in different contexts. What is labelled ‘KM’ is often not KM at all – and the real KM is hidden.

Does this matter? We think it does. KM adds value and can contribute significantly to project, programme and portfolio success – and project management is missing out on it. KM experience and thinking from beyond the project management world can change this, but only if managers recognise the knowledge and KM aspects of their work.

The ideas in this article are based on a new book Managing knowledge in project environments (Payne, Roden and Simister, 2019), which looks at project work through a knowledge lens and explores how knowledge contributes to success. The book argues that actively considering and managing the knowledge aspects of project work leads to better organisational outcomes – and provides a framework for understanding and improving KM in different organisational contexts. The article briefly introduces the framework of KM principles, KM context and KM scope; then applies the knowledge lens to take a deeper look at the interplay between three of the context factors: strategic KM purpose, project delivery method and project type.

  1. KM principles, the KM context and KM scope

1.1     KM principles

Seven KM principles capture the why of managing knowledge: the fundamentals of KM that apply to KM the world over – not just to KM in project environments. The principles and underlying fundamentals are summarised in Table 1 and covered in more detail in Managing knowledge in project environments (Payne, Roden and Simister, 2019).



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Editor’s note: The Advances in Project Management series includes articles by authors of program and project management books published by Routledge worldwide. Information about Routledge project management books can be found here.

How to cite this paper: Payne, J.; Roden, E.J.; Simister, S. (2019). Through the knowledge lens: KM adventures in project-land, PM World Journal, Vol. VIII, Issue IX, October. Available online at https://pmworldlibrary.net/wp-content/uploads/2019/10/pmwj86-Oct2019-Payne-Roden-Simister-through-the-knowledge-lens.pdf



About the Authors

Dr Judy Payne

United Kingdom




Dr Judy Payne works as an independent consultant, practitioner, reluctant academic and educator specialising in knowledge management, collaborative working and learning. Her work is positioned firmly on the boundaries between academia and practice. Not the most comfortable place to be, but there’s such a huge gap between the two that there’s a lot of bridging to be done. Judy chairs the BSI Knowledge Management Standards Committee and is a member of the ISO working group that developed the Knowledge Management standard published in 2018. She co-founded and co-chairs the APM Knowledge SIG. She contributed new knowledge management sections to APM Bok7, the sixth edition of the Project Management Institute’s PMBOK® Guide and the Axelos P3O® Manual – and is the author of articles published in journals including KM Review, Organisations and People, Strategic HR Review, Assets, Project, and HR Magazine. With Vanessa Randle, Judy also produces short whiteboard animation videos including a series of ‘Courageous Conversations’ published by APM.


Eileen J Roden

United Kingdom




Eileen Roden is an experienced PMO and PPM Consultant.  She works with individuals and organisations, often at Executive level, to improve their delivery capability.  She works across a wide range of industry sectors including transport, finance, pharmaceuticals, defence, utilities and the public sector.  As Lead Author of P3O® Best Management Practice, Eileen is a recognised expert in the implementation and development of PMOs and influencer in the development of the PMO profession.  Her work includes the establishment of the leading PMO training organisation – PMO Learning, building on the success of the sister companies of PMO Flashmob and the PMO Conference. Her passion for all things PMO is underpinned by 17 years practitioner experience, 14 years consultancy and training experience along with a range of academic and professional qualifications.



Dr Steve Simister

United Kingdom




Dr Steve Simister is a consultant and university lecturer in project, programme and portfolio management. His specialism is in assisting clients to scope and define project requirements within a strategic business need framework.  He has experience of most business sectors and has been involved in all stages of project lifecycles.

Steve is deputy chair of MS2 the BSI committee for project management.  He has contributed to various ISO standards on project management include g ISO:21500.

He is a Chartered Project Professional with APM and co-founded the APM Knowledge SIG.