(Full apologies to any actual redheaded step children in my VAST reading audience)
Both have great promise to better the performance of organizations. Both have been hyped to certain degrees by their proponents. Both have, to certain degrees and by certain people, been accused of being all hype and of “failing” to deliver any value.
I think one other thing they both share is the problem of organizations reading about them, getting fired up about them, doing some ‘research’ on software (since as all Executives know Software will solve any problem), installing software and then being disappointed that their organizations are not suddenly transformed into the case study they read in CIO magazine.
Obviously this is not just an Exec problem, it is a pretty wide spread human problem. People see lots of problems being “solved” with software so they get the idea that software is what actually solved the problem. In some cases like in database systems making it easier to find information this is mostly true but the general misconception stands: Software fixes problems.
This is what, I feel, is to blame for things like KM and certain PM initiatives ‘failing’. Too many people feel that it is the job of software to Manage their Ks and their P’s. They feel that spending $100,000 on software will fix any problem. The reality is much more difficult. The reality is about changing the way people think about their jobs and the way that what they know defines their value to the company and it’s about how they manage and organize their work and the work of those on their teams.
KM and PM initiatives fail because the people involved have not yet decided that KM and PM are good for them. Something about the sharing of knowledge and changing the way projects, resources and work are managed makes them uncomfortable and they do they natural thing: they resist. They find things wrong with the system. They don't use it. They poke holes in it and try to kill it. The whole range of defense mechanisms come into play. The most common is to just not use it. It is not an active hatred that kills the new system or process but a slow passive death from starvation.
Anyway: PM and KM “systems” are about people being comfortable with changing the way they do things.