Experience Sharing: Building a KM Portal using Open Source


2016-12-10 15:00 to 18:30


"Rm BC309, HK Polytechnic University, Hunghom, Kowloon"

In knowledge management, the portal plays a crucial part in an organization.  It is a platform of ownership, a partner for knowledge workers, sense of belongings, and the soul of a knowledge organization.  It's also a 24x7 digital water cooler.  But, its cost and implementation is also the barrier.  The speaker broke through this barrier by building the portal in a D-I-Y mode using open source at zero cost.  He will share with us his KM journey from the absolute ground starting a year ago.

A portal is an important tools in many aspects of life in the internet age.  There are always an expectation that anything can be found on the web, with easy access serving 24x7 hours.  Same apply to business, like the intranet for internal use, like the organization website for external customers.  Some apply to other parts of life, like what the speaker has done for the Association of KM Practitioners..

In knowledge management, the portal plays a crucial part as a tools for many different aspects in an organization.  In the MScKM course, ISE5603 is a standalone subject on KM portal.  The portal gives you a natural opportunity to tap into the 4 core aspects of KM - people, process, technology & content.  As a matter of fact, even though we understand technology is not the most important part of KM, KM practitioners realize that it is also handicap for KM without a proper system in place.  Even though there are a lot of online systems & tools available, they normally serve only a single part of the overall requirements, or some of them are too expensive.  Nothing is ideal.  Furthermore, it is very common that organizations paying a lot of money for the systems, they normally use only 20-30% of the system functions in reality, disregard the many dissatisfactions on these systems.

The speaker KF Cheng is a KM practitioner, a graduate of the MScKM with the background of engineering and IT.  Being the leader of the MScKM community, he tried building a system for the association using open source.  Started in early 2015, with the fundamental belief of his background and knowledge, and with his non-compromising passion, he started his practical journey to build the website.  Without any background knowledge of the open source system, he started by learning how to construct a website, gone through the too many possibilities and obstacles, and at the same time building the website for the association.

KF started with Joomla.  It took him almost 1/2 year to complete the website for KMP on a part-time basis, and completed around Jun/Jul 2015.  Joomla is an open-source CMS system which was not bad, but it didn't satisfy him.  At the end of 2015, he started to build another version using Drupal.  Drupal is a much more flexible open-source CMS system, because it allows more details or granularities to be configured.  However, the higher flexibility of Drupal also brings higher complications and a much steeper learning curve.  This time, it took much more time on a full-time basis for KF to learn, and complete the project to a very different expectation.  In fact, starting from July 2016, KF already started to build another newer version of the KMP website to fit the operational need of the portal.

KF has spent a few years on different open-source CMS technologies.  For him, the journey integrating technology to real life is not an easy one.  But the many pull-down and re-built attempts is an excellent experience in his KM journey to find and balance out between technology and human needs.  KF believes smaller organizations who do not want to spend millions of dollars on a portal, can possibly consider these systems based on open-source.  As a matter of fact, the KMP portal is a proven project that this is possible.  The KMP site serves both as an external website as well as an internal collaboration portal.  During the architect and construction of the portal, many KM elements have been considered and put in place.  To name a few using the KMP portal as an example, the portal features some key features which is essential for KM applications:

  • Sub-sites under the original mother site.  The KMP portal makes sub-sites available for individual committees and communities who can have their own customized sub-sites to fulfill individual's specific need in operations, content and activities, and most importantly under their own management.  That's equivalent to different departments in a business organization.
  • Rich customizable content-types to fit business and operational needs in a realistic, user-friendly and sensible manner.  This helps to line up proper business process, unify simple and preferable workflow across the entire organization, and facilitate collaboration even from remote.
  • Build up organization-owned knowledge-base using wiki and different content-types.  Search necessary operational knowledge at the finger-tips.

Who Should Attend

This event is one of the talk in the UNCONFERENCE DAY, organized by Prof. Tsui of KMIRC, Hong Kong Polytechnic University.  All MScKM Members, students and graduates of MScKM, MILESAA members are welcomed.  This talk is suitable for people who are interested:

  • to know more about open-source technology
  • to understand the feasibility and practicability of building web-based systems using open-source
  • to find out how far and how practical an open-source project can go
  • to build an intranet, a KM portal, or a department portal.



This will be one of the talks in the UNCONFERENCE day, which consists of a series of sharing by other speakers.  This particular talk is estimated to start around 17:00, but the Unconference day will start at 15:00.

Target Participants:

  • MScKM students & graduate
  • KMP members

The speaker will cover the following:

  1. Role of technology in KM
  2. Why open-source, the OSIP strategy
  3. Introduction of open-source, different choices
  4. Demonstration: The KMP platform - a live example
  5. Speaker's journey and learning
  6. A projection of KM implementation in organizations

Note:  This is not a technical talk.


Unconference is organized by Prof. Tsui of KMIRC in the Hong Kong Polytechnic University.  There are other talks by other speakers in the same occasion.  Members interested in this talk can arrive earlier and participate in the talks by other speakers.  Below are the information of the Unconference Day:

Date 10 December 2016 (Saturday)
Time 15:00 - 18:30
Venue Room BC309, Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hunghom, Kowloon
Background This is a sharing practice among the KM graduates and students in the PolyU

Sharings in the Unconference Day:

Speaker Topic
Prof. Eric Tsui Managing knowledge in the age of digitalisation
Andreas Sher An alternative view of knowledge
KF Cheng Experience Sharing: Journey of Building a KM Portal using Open Source
Daniel Ng TBA
Dr. Eric Cheng institutionalizing SECI model in school for improving planning capacity?
Huawei TBA

It is common for some of the speakers and participants to finish off with a dinner together but this is optional.



KF Cheng

Founder, Leader of Prov Exec Committee, KMP

KF has a very strong technical background regardless of his business experience.  Prior to his graduation in MScKM back in 2012, he studied Electronic Engineering, Computing Studies, Telecommunication Technology and e-Commerce.  His early career was related to computers, electronics and software development.

KF has many hands-on experience in building web systems using open source technologies.  He built the website for the 2012 graduation dinner, the initial website of KMP2P, and the following different revised websites for KMP2P, and KMP now, all based on open-source platforms.  He had tried different technologies including the Google Sites, WordPress, Joomla and most recently Drupal.  He just revised with a new version of the KMP platform.

KF highly promotes his concept of OSIP - Open Source Integration Platform, which means building of application platforms using open-source technology, and integrate with appropriate web services and resources available in the market.  Since end of 2015, he started proving his OSIP concept with the KMP platform.

In his consultancy experience in 2015, he realized the challenges of organizations trying to catch up and upgrade with software systems in order to fulfill their business operations.  It was not only the million-dollar costs, but also the time, the migration of data, the time-consuming testing, the lengthy adaptation process, and the IT team resources are all the obstacles that were the most serious burdens.  Yet even after the implementation process which can easily last for 2 years, the technology already becomes out-dated, and business departments become reluctant to use.  He describes this situation as shooting a moving object.  In the fast-moving technology situation of today, it is difficult to win the game.  Because of this, according to KF, the OSIP becomes a more viable solution to be considered.

According to KF, his target is to build a KM portal using his OSIP philosophy.  His latest version of the KMP platform is a solid evidence of his success.  In this event, KF will share his concept, and the real hands-on experience he has gained on this subject, and the real-life experience of this KM journey.

Other Speakers of Unconference

Not available here


UNCONFERENCE is organized by Prof. Tsui of KMIRC, Hong Kong Polytechnic University.  KF Cheng and Andreas Sher are coordinating this from the KMP side.