Knowledge Management Strategy and Framework
Designing Saudi Arabia’s National Knowledge Hub
Business Issue

The Center for Strategic Development (CSD) was established by Saudi Arabia’s Council of Ministers to be their national center of thought-leadership on socio-economic development. The CSD’s mission is to provide independent and comprehensive advice on socio-economic development. The CSD is organized into three main departments—policy analysis, consulting, and knowledge management (KM).

The CSD’s knowledge management vision was bold. Their internal business plan described KM in this way: “A core component of our future ambition is to have a robust knowledge management capability which serves as both a knowledge sharing platform and an integrated data management center for internal CSD use, and a national-level knowledge management interface and integrated data hub for use by stakeholders across the Kingdom.”

The CSD released a request for proposal in the 2Q2017 to get help in establishing the knowledge management department. The objective of this project was to develop the overall KM strategy and design and to specify the essential “foundational” elements of an enterprise-wide commitment to KM, covering people, technology, organizational processes and protocol, content, and individual skill, attitude, and behavior elements. The project scope included shaping an overall strategic KM architecture and blueprint; articulating the values and behaviors essential to its success; identifying major user groups and requirements; establishing core frameworks and approaches for managing knowledge, as well as the protocols that will guide their use; and identifying essential IT systems and tools to be implemented.

The procurement was competitive. Iknow was awarded the contract over many of the world’s leading strategy consulting firms.


The Knowledge Management Strategy and Framework Project was conducted in eight stages, or work streams, over roughly a 20-week period. The objectives of each work stream were:

  1. Baseline CSD KM Landscape and Capabilities. Gain a comprehensive understanding of the CSD’s current KM capabilities, practices, and processes and develop a “baseline” assessment.
  2. Benchmark Think Tank KM Functions. Identify KM-related benchmarks and industry best practices from recognized “think tanks” and apply them to CSD’s new KM program.
  3. Develop the CSD KM Strategy. Develop a customized KM strategy that is consistent with and supports CSD’s overall mission, vision, and business strategy.
  4. Develop the CSD Knowledge Taxonomy. Create a comprehensive and consistent taxonomy and set of metadata that can be used across both the CSD KM Platform and the National Knowledge Hub.
  5. Design the CSD Knowledge Management and National Knowledge Hub Platform. Identify, collect, and validate the CSD’s internal KM-related business requirements and the National Knowledge Hub’s KM-related business requirements.
  6. Design the CSD KM Governance Model. Develop an information governance framework, processes, and organizational structures to manage the entirety of information assets within the CSD.
  7. Detail the CSD KM Operating Model. Define the internal business processes necessary to support enterprise-wide knowledge management, and define the roles, organization structure, and resources necessary to staff the internal KM function.
  8. Design the 2020 KM Roadmap. Develop, evaluate, and prioritize a portfolio of projects that will continue to grow and expand the KM capabilities within the Center for Strategic Development.

These eight work streams provided a comprehensive KM foundation and roadmap for the CSD.


Iknow produced 40 primary deliverables and categories of deliverables as part of the KM Strategy and Framework Project. Some of the key deliverables are described below.

  • KM Strategy. The KM Strategy work stream identified and defined ten user groups and performed an extensive analysis of business use cases. The National Knowledge Hub will initially focus on four categories of strategic knowledge assets:
    • Deliverables and related outputs from studies and projects related to strategy and socio-economic development that are conducted within the CSD and across all KSA government organizations.
    • External content to support the CSD Research & Policy Department’s policy research portfolio.
    • Profiles of subject matter experts (SMEs) whose specialty areas are of interest to the CSD and other government entities.
    • Consulting and research templates, guidelines, approaches, methodologies, frameworks, and tools, extracted from the collected studies.
  • KM Benchmarking. Iknow conducted a comprehensive benchmarking effort to identify knowledge management-related (KM) benchmarks and industry best practices from recognized think tanks and apply them in the design of the CSD’s new KM program.
  • Knowledge Taxonomy. Iknow used the American Economic Association’s Journal of Economic Literature Classification System for the subject matter taxonomy. Naseej translated the taxonomy into Arabic. Iknow also selected the Maknaz Expanded Thesaurus as the source for synonyms, homonyms, antonyms, and related terms. These terms will be added to the autoclassification tool to enhance the semantic value of the taxonomy.
  • Metadata Schema. Iknow constructed a composite metadata model for the CSD. The metadata model consisted of seven metadata categories and twenty-five metadata elements. Iknow’s metadata schema included definitions of the metadata elements, their data type and format, and other relevant descriptors, such as mandatory or optional, and single or multi-valued. Iknow also developed ten controlled vocabularies that are associated with specific metadata elements. For most of the controlled vocabularies, we prepared the lists of values in both Arabic and English.
  • Technology Solution Recommendations. Iknow collected, validated, and documented the business and technical requirements for the National Knowledge Hub platform. Based on these requirements, Iknow evaluated hundreds of commercial and open source software products. In the end, sixteen named software products were recommended for the Knowledge Hub platform. These products address all of the business and technical requirements that were identified and collected during the earlier work streams.
  • KM Governance Model. Iknow developed recommendations for the Knowledge Hub’s governance model, governance bodies, and responsibilities in the form of a RACI Matrix. Iknow recommended an Interactive KM governance model for the Knowledge Hub. The Interactive KM governance model will support the organization’s learning culture, which is required by CSD to become a thought leader in socio-economic development. Iknow recommended three types of KM governance bodies for the Knowledge Hub: a KM Advisory Committee, a KM Strategy Leadership, and a KM Operational Team. The duties and expectations for each governance body were described.
  • KM Business Process Descriptions. Iknow developed a comprehensive set of “future-state” business processes for the Knowledge Hub. Specifically, Iknow developed thirty-four individual business process descriptions and process maps for the knowledge management-related “future-state” business processes. These “future-state” processes were based on Iknow’s deep experience and expertise in the knowledge management domain.
  • KM Organization Structure and Job Descriptions. Iknow designed four levels of the Knowledge Management Department’s organization structure. Iknow prepared 25 KM-related job descriptions for the new Department. We also created the three-year Knowledge Hub Staffing Plan
  • Three-Year KM Implementation Roadmap. Iknow conducted a Portfolio Prioritization Workshop to propose, discuss, and refine proposed roadmap projects.

The project’s deliverables and recommendations were well received by the Head of the Knowledge Hub, the President of the CSD, and the CSD’s Board of Directors. The Board of Directors approved the funding for the Implementation Phase and work will start in 2019.

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