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History Books and Finding Needles In Haystacks

If you’ve been following my Twitter feed, you’re probably wondering why I’ve made references to needles and haystacks lately, and more recently, history books. Twitter only gives you 140 characters and what I’ve been working on is a little hard to describe succinctly. However, these metaphors are pretty good descriptions of what I’m doing.

So what is it? It’s cleanup work on the knowledge base for Nokia‘s Security Appliance Business, where I work. This part of Nokia is in the process of being sold to Check Point Software. Once the deal closes, integrating the two knowledge bases will be one of many things that will have to happen.

My role in this? As the guy who manages the content in the knowledge base, and has been deeply involved with the various iterations of the system, I’m in a rather unique position to ensure the migration goes smoothly. I know the content and system better than anyone else in our business unit. I’m not doing the actual migration, but I’m working with the folks that are.

Right now, I am on a mission to make the data cleaner. Specifically, I am trying to ensure our data is properly tagged and published so it can be exported. Poor design decisions along with inconsistent application of appropriate knowledge management practices has created the situation the data is in today.

Last week, I looked through a significant chunk of the articles. Unfortunately, it was an exceedingly manual process–a bit like finding needles in haystacks. I spent too many waking hours on this task, but given the uncertain timeline we have to work with, there is no choice but to get it done as quickly as possible.

The next project is going through some older articles imported from a previous knowledge management system that are active in our current system. The articles are at least 3 years old, likely older. For a variety of reasons, if that content is to be saved, it will need to be copied into new articles. Fortunately, the number of affected articles is an order of magnitude less than the chunk I just went through. Unfortunately, the time commitment on each article is a bit higher than what I just went through.

This seems like a lot of grunt work. The reality is that it would take me longer to train someone how to do it than to just do it myself. It needs to be done. And, quite honestly, I don’t mind doing it. It is one thing I can do to ensure this transition between Nokia and Check Point goes smoothly.

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