Knowledge Management is crucial for a company’s success. Having a method for employees to access knowledge and information fast, is the key advantage to competing in a global market. In this article, we will learn how Knowledge Management can be used in order to excel and make faster, better decisions within an organization.
Knowledge Management Definition
Knowledge Management (KM) is the way in which companies organize, store, and share information related to their own operational and decision-making processes. Simply put, allowing an individual to discover quick, searchable know-how needed to perform a job. By using KM, an organization can reach its objectives to increase productivity and limit losses from turnover.
It is common for existing institutional knowledge to become disorganized or uncaptured, resulting in lost efficiency as users spend time searching for content or simply using content that is out of date. This creates risk from the cost of training individuals over a long period of time only to lose them. Overall without Knowledge Management, employees within an organization often spend more time seeking out relevant information instead of the outcome-focused task itself.
Knowledge Management System definition
A Knowledge Management System (KMS) is an IT system that harnesses collective knowledge by storing and retrieving information quickly to improve better operational efficiencies. Not only is this effective for employees, but can also support users and customers. This is done through a knowledge base. The centralized place where information is stored and readily accessible. The system facilitates having faster decision-making processes within the company.
Not only does this help current employees, but it brings even more support to the training and onboarding of new hires within the organization. This leads to higher retention and employee satisfaction. Cutting knowledge discovery time allows for being productive. Feeling productive is the top attribute for employees to be happy and also gives you the best results for achieving higher revenue.
The three types of knowledge
In order to understand Knowledge Management and how to implement it, we need to define it further. There are 3 types of knowledge:
- Tacit knowledge is acquiring knowledge through experience, therefore, acquiring intuitive understanding. Examples are languages, leadership skills, and even humor. Out of the three types, tacit knowledge is the hardest to articulate through code.
- Implicit knowledge is also known as “know-how” knowledge. This is the knowledge that exists within processes that is articulately understood as a common rule rather than a skill from intuition. This type of knowledge is more of a common understanding between people.
- Explicit knowledge is captured through documentation. It is considered intellectual capital that is displayed either through guides, manuals, or reports. We can see explicit knowledge being used in case studies, databases, and white papers.
The three processes of Knowledge Management
A successful Knowledge Management System can be coordinated between 3 steps: knowledge creation, storage, and sharing. Let's check how these work below:
- Knowledge creation: this is the stage you identify and document new knowledge that is needed for everyone in the company or a department to know.
- Knowledge storage: formatted to a specific repository, this is where the organizational knowledge is hosted and stored.
- Knowledge sharing: The last stage is the process of communication to spread the knowledge throughout the company. Depending on the company's culture determines how quickly this information is shared and understood.
Common tools for Knowledge Management
There are a number of tools within KMS. These tools support organizations to streamline their information. Let's dive into 5 tools that companies use today:
- Content Management System: an application that supports the management of web content such as media files, audio, and videos.
- Document Management System: This is a place that stores digital document files by supporting PDFs, images, and word docs.
- Intranets: A network within an organization that supports directories and searches for processes and tools. As a private network, it allows for sharing of tools and processes among the organizational stakeholders.
- Wikis: A catalog of information that is shared throughout the organization and can be edited simply. However, simple editing can lead to misinformation, therefore it’s important for workers to update correctly.
- Logic Maps: This is an augmented tool that allows stakeholders to receive answers they add or select as input. The map makes suggestions from the stakeholder's previous statement inputs as a decision-making database.
Knowledge Management strategies
Having Knowledge Management is a must in an organization, but it doesn’t mean forgetting the human side of collaboration to assist. The workplace needs a motivated and productive atmosphere. Here are a few strategies to make sure your management practices are at their fullest.
- Organizing culture: cross-communication with teams within an organizational structure is supported through excellent cultural norms. Companies that encourage and reward knowledge sharing bring trust between teams to excel.
- Forum communities: This applies to building a “learning forum.” The forum is meant to share knowledge and best practices. Community members with specific expertise support questions from other teams seeking answers to do their job.
Current use cases of Knowledge Management
So where has Knowledge Management proved to be effective? Let's take a look at the areas:
- Employee training & onboarding: Knowledge tools allow “learn by doing.” Instead of just giving a new hire a data dump of information right at the start, knowledge tools act as their resource when initiating the first tasks within their role. Allows them to seek the answers they need while handling the task at hand.
- Everyday tasks: Finding the right answers to accomplish a task can be frustrating. Therefore, it is crucial for every employee to have access to the information within the company. The goal is to have information shared so that an employee gets the right answer at the right time increasing the speed of productivity.
- Customer facing KMS: It has been proven, that a customer prefers to seek the answer first before contacting customer support. Having a KMS that is customer-facing increases customer satisfaction to quickly know what product is right for them. Successful customer support practices offer options to get the answers quickly before reaching out to a human.
Top Knowledge Management benefits
Altogether there are 6 benefits for organizations using a Knowledge Management System. These benefits are:
- Discovering skill weaknesses: When documenting knowledge across teams, you can discover gaps. Some teams may not have the necessary skills for which their jobs were intended to perform. Therefore, management will know how to act to add additional resources to fill these gaps.
- Making better, faster decisions: The main point of KMS is to supply knowledge to every department and individual. Therefore, any department can upskill themselves through both new and historical information to make fast decisions for company goals.
- Maintain expert knowledge: The Great resignation has seen an increase of expert individuals leaving their jobs. It is crucial to create a memory bank of knowledge within an organization. Documenting your experts' tacit, explicit, and implicit knowledge helps maintain knowledge lost when an expert leaves the organization.
- Streamlining operations: By allowing employees to access knowledge to do their tasks, it increases productivity and reduces cost. KMS will help retain, and create a purpose for their employees to feel productive and efficient.
- Increasing communication transparency: Transparency brings trust between departments and employees. Trust and transparency is key to aligning every employee around the common goals of the organization.
- Security of data: Often organizations must secure their intellectual property for the purpose of avoiding explicit knowledge from competitors. A KMS allows viewership controls so that channels can be accessed for the right people. Therefore knowledge is shared safely amongst the individuals who need it.