HLA is in the process of building a new knowledge management system that is being branded as the next generation Knowledge Base which supports the knowledge needs of both existing and aspiring humanitarian logistics professionals.

The Knowledge Base is an essential restructuring of the existing HumLog Portal, and as such will continue to be housed on the HLA website. However, it will pull together a considerable amount of relevant resources from within the entire humanitarian logistics space. This is because there are still some gaps in access to knowledge resources. For information sharing, the situation is better already – actors in the community do great work in coordinating the flow of information to ensure awareness and transparency about the situation on the ground, especially during emergencies.

And to ensure that the resources in the Knowledge Base really serve the needs of the professionals, the team behind it are carrying out an assessment to better understand what these needs are. They are well underway with key informant interviews where they collected the views and insights of individuals considered to be experts within the field, and who are already closely involved with the work of the HLA as part of the Advisory Group.

The initial findings show that there are indeed a lot of good public knowledge resources out there, and as such HLA wants to link/connect to and consolidate access to them in one place. The internal knowledge management systems within the big organizations add another dimension. They are great for those who do have access while others out there lack the learning they could gain from that. Therefore, what is lacking currently is an established central source or repository for the entire community, that connects to these resources. At the same time, these experts agree on the sector’s need to actively capture and save knowledge. This stems from the high turnover of humanitarian logisticians, especially in the field.  Therefore, the ability to document and then enhance access to key learning from the past will ensure that relevant knowledge is passed on and stays within the community.

As a next step, the team are launching a sector-wide survey targeted at all humanitarian logistics professionals, and those who aspire to be one, to establish what specific contents they have need of, where and how they access resources, and the type and formats of content that they consider to be useful for their work.

The findings from the engagements with these identified group of experts, as well as the survey, will help establish what needs to be a priority for the Knowledge Base. The Knowledge Base, is intended to be, at the very minimum, a portal that links to the resources that the community of professionals needs to work more effectively as humanitarian logisticians.

The intention, is not only to make it much easier for existing humanitarian professionals to find the resources they need. But rather, the resource aims to go further in building the knowledge base for training new entrants – the next generation of professionals – while maintaining quality standards.

In the meantime, the team is already working on a pilot implementation, that will change and grow with the collected feedback and ultimately transform into the Knowledge Base. It is expected to be live by the end of 2019.

The Knowledge Base is an HLA initiative being led by Lothar Weichert, a Doctoral Researcher and Chair of Logistics Management at the WHU – Otto Beisheim School of Management.  Especially with the pilot, it has received and continues to receive some significant support from the Geneva based Humanitarian Library’s Shelter Cluster.   

HLA therefore invites all humanitarian logistics and supply chain professionals to respond to the survey and provide those critical insights that help shape the Knowledge Base.