PCPACK

PCPACK is a powerful business solution that supports the retention, sharing, management and re-use of knowledge vital to the organisation.

First released in 1994 as a commercially available product, PCPACK has since undergone continual development in response to market demands, technological advances and customer feedback. Major global corporations have benefited from the use of PCPACK. These include Airbus, BAE Systems, British Airways, Corus, GKN, Logica, Motorola, Prudential, QinetiQ, Rolls-Royce, Thales and Unilever.

For a technical overview of PCPACK, please click here.


The Power of PCPACK

The power of PCPACK comes from its versatility, sophistication and ease of use. At its heart is a set of tools that allows knowledge to be captured from expert practitioners, from documents and from other systems. The technology to do this is built upon established practices in AI and Psychology. Graphical interfaces allow this knowledge to be structured quickly and easily so that a formal knowledge base is created.

PCPACK also provides a publishing function so that the knowledge base contents can be automatically displayed as a web site or as more traditional documentation. This knowledge is then instantly available to employees enabling them to have the knowledge they require to achieve high standards of work.


Capturing Knowledge

PCPACK is particularly strong in supporting the acquisition of knowledge from people. Organisations rely totally on the skills and expertise of their employees particularly those that have built-up large amounts of knowledge in specific areas. Capturing this knowledge is not easy since much of the knowledge lies deep inside people’s heads and is difficult to describe, particularly to non-experts. PCPACK helps to capture this knowledge by providing tools that maximise the quality and quantity of the knowledge acquired whilst minimising the time and effort required from experts valuable to the organisation.

Existing documentation is another important source of knowledge, but often requires sorting and restructuring to pick out the relevant pieces of knowledge. PCPACK provides a simple way to do this using a marking tool similar to the way in which you would identify key pieces of information on a document using highlighter pens.


Structuring Knowledge

To be useful, knowledge must be structured. Without structure there are a number of difficulties:

  • It is difficult for users to find the knowledge they require, and to understand the knowledge that is presented
  • Other software systems cannot use the knowledge that has been captured
  • The maintenance, management and re-use of the knowledge becomes almost impossible

To give structure to the knowledge, PCPACK incorporates a number of tools that provide user-friendly graphical interfaces. For example, one tool allows knowledge to be structured hierarchically. Different hierarchies can be produced such as those showing categories and sub-categories of knowledge, those showing how a product is decomposed into sub-assemblies and sub-components, and those showing how processes breakdown into sub-activities and sub-tasks.

Another tool allows diagrams to be created. Almost any format of diagram can be constructed. One example is a conceptual map that shows how pieces of knowledge are related to one another. Another example is a process map that shows how activities are performed using resources, decisions, roles and sub-tasks.

Another tool allows matrices to be created. These present knowledge in a grid-like format that enables the relationships and properties of pieces of knowledge to be presented and defined. A specialised form of grid is a structured web page. PCPACK allows the creation of web pages of knowledge that use a consistent format, thus providing a structure to the text and graphics. Knowledge that is structured using other tools in PCPACK is automatically entered into the correct position on the web page, thus reducing the time involved and maintaining consistency. Hyperlinks are also automatically created, and can be linked to electronic documents outside PCPACK.


Validating Knowledge

It is essential that the knowledge shared around the organisation is as complete, correct, consistent and relevant as possible. To ensure this, the knowledge must be validated with experts. Without a tool like PCPACK, validation can be a lengthy and difficult process for experts, taking them away from their normal activities. Using PCPACK, the expert is presented with knowledge that is quick and easy to check for errors and omissions. This is achieved using the same kinds of graphical presentations that are used to structure the knowledge. As the well-known maxim has it, a picture is worth a thousand words. In the case of PCPACK, a diagram or matrix is worth a thousand words. Additionally, many companies have used these structured representations to present knowledge to multiple experts so that differences of opinion can be resolved and best practices can be established.


Sharing Knowledge

Once knowledge has been captured, structured and validated, it can be shared. Many organisations have intranet systems that provide an ideal means for employees to access the knowledge they require. Without a tool like PCPACK, creating knowledge-rich web sites can be a lengthy and expensive process. With PCPACK, web sites can be created at the click of a button by translating the contents of a knowledge base into the appropriate web formats. What would have taken weeks to produce is achieved in a matter of minutes. The web site is complete, including all search and navigation options. All that is needed is to upload the web site files to an ISP or intranet server.

The visual style and functionality of websites created by PCPACK can be fully customised using templates. Once a template has been created, it can be used repeatedly throughout the organisation when publishing web sites with PCPACK.


Re-using Knowledge

It is in the nature of knowledge that it can, and should, be re-used for different business requirements. One way in which organisations are reaping the benefits of knowledge re-use is to create both web sites and intelligent software systems using the same PCPACK knowledge base. This is achievable since the format of a PCPACK knowledge base uses a technology called XML, which is fully compatible with modern web technologies such as the semantic web. This provides a formal, machine-readable content that can be automatically translated into other formats and used for the automatic creation of software programs.

Organisations such as Airbus and Rolls-Royce are making use of these features of PCPACK to create intelligent software that significantly reduces the design and development time of complex aerospace products.


Summary

If your organisation is serious about retaining, sharing and re-using knowledge, particularly that of valued experts, then PCPACK is ideally suited to your requirements. Without PCPACK, you run the risk of:

  1. Spending excessive time capturing knowledge
  2. Taking valuable experts off-the-job for unacceptable time periods
  3. Creating unstructured knowledge stores that are difficult to search, use and maintain
  4. Skimping on validation so that the captured knowledge may include errors, omissions, inconsistencies and irrelevances
  5. Presenting knowledge in a way that does not exploit modern web technologies and does not allow maximal access and use of the knowledge
  6. Storing the knowledge in a format that is not machine-readable
  7. Using knowledge for only one purpose and not re-using the knowledge in multiple contexts


Further Information

For more information on PCPACK, please view the following:



60-Day Free Evaluation

You can download a fully operational demonstration copy of PCPACK5 which gives you 60 days of free evaluation. The download is available through our sister company, Tacit Connexions. To do this, please click here.


Last modified: 9 December 2008