Knowledge management in the company
How can a tool help a service company organize its own knowledge? In this case study we report on how we built a tool for internal knowledge management with gempex.
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As a know-how-driven company, we – like many others – struggle with the topic of knowledge management. Since there was no software on the market that would serve our purposes, I looked for other solutions and came across SIDESTREAM. Not only did I find a super dynamic, bright team that was very familiar with modern tools, but I also found the first solution that we could use quickly. The collaboration was a lot of fun and that's why we will tackle our next projects with SIDESTREAM.
Ralf Gengenbach
Ralf Gengenbach, Managing Director
Every service company focuses 100% on its customers. Accordingly, the focus is always entirely on ongoing projects. What is often neglected in everyday project life is preserving knowledge in a meaningful way and making it accessible for the future.

Skillful knowledge management avoids having to start from scratch on every project. In addition, the know-how is not only stored in the heads of individual employees, but is also available to the entire organization. Ralf Gengenbach, Managing Director of gempex, recognized this problem and developed the toolbox together with SIDESTREAM. It is intended to make the knowledge within gempex more accessible.

Other information management solutions were also tested, but these did not meet the challenge. With the established, Sharepoint-based file system, for example, it was difficult to ensure the context of the documents (project assignment, topic assignment) and quick findability. In addition, documents should, on the one hand, be able to be stored quickly in the tool and, on the other hand, be converted into high-quality templates later. This covers the entire lifecycle of a document.
The solution approach
The knowledge at gempex is available in the form of documents. There are no uniform templates for these documents. The aim is therefore to provide the documents as templates or samples. In order to transfer the knowledge from one project to the company's knowledge database and then to another project, the right abstractions must be formed. Instead of directly developing professional templates, a two-stage process should therefore be introduced in which, after the end of the project, valuable documents created by gempex are first collected, neutralized and tagged before they are converted into templates in a further process.
The implementation
For implementation, it was important to create a usable version as quickly as possible. This meant that internal acceptance and the usefulness of the tool could be validated before time was invested in further development. We ensured that this version is secure and user-friendly from the start, despite the agile iteration. A version that was too slim would have had a negative impact on user acceptance. We also relied on collaborative feature engineering: Gempex knows the subject best, but at the same time we were also able to suggest valuable features based on our experience in software development. An important feature, for example, is a multi-document upload, as many documents are uploaded from the same project and most of the keywords are shared. Sometimes just 1-2 such features are enough to make the application a success.
After an overall analysis of digital potential at gempex, the topic of knowledge management was recognized as a useful potential. The requirements were then worked out together. The first version was then implemented in two sprints. This happened within short iterations with gempex. However, we always kept an eye on getting into production as quickly as possible and letting the users decide what was needed.
Technology Deep Dive
The Toolbox is designed as a modern, container-based web application. For the first version, 6 Docker containers were hosted on the Amazon Web Services (AWS) Cloud in Frankfurt am Main. Hosting in the cloud enables gempex employees to access the toolbox from anywhere. This is very important because consultants often work with clients. Although this would also be possible with the on-site servers at gempex, the effort required to ensure mobile access with the same security standards as AWS would be significantly higher. The toolbox has its own user management system in order to be independent of the rest of the gempex system. In such situations, it is always important to keep the effort for these “hidden” features as low as possible and at the same time not to compromise on safety and comfort. The choice here fell on a combination of Keycloak and Oathkeeper. In addition to the quick integration as separate Docker containers, the existing administrator user interface is a USP of these solutions. Now the toolbox can be operated completely without dedicated IT support, as most problems can be solved via the admin interface. The actual web application was implemented with VueJS and Typescript and refined with Ant Design.
Vue JS
Ant Design
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