Knowledge management systems are an investment. But when implemented correctly and applied with the mindset of continuous engagement and improvement, a knowledge management system is well worth investing in.
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Irrespective of your business size and sector, a knowledge management system will benefit you by improving communication across your organization. But where do you start when implementing a knowledge management system? Here are 5 lessons we’ve learned.
Knowledge management (KM) is a key cornerstone of the modern workplace, especially as remote and hybrid workplaces are now the norm. Not only does knowledge management help to facilitate quality decision-making, but it also amplifies productivity and efficiency, and empowers employees to enhance their skills without the overheads associated with costly training.
But when it comes to creating and building an effective knowledge management system, many organizations struggle, especially when it comes to developing clear objectives, clearly defining roles and responsibilities, and creating standard operating procedures.
Knowledge management is the process of creating, organizing, sharing, storing, and using organizational knowledge to help improve company-wide performance.
People tend to think KM is about collecting and storing data; but knowledge management involves actively connecting resources, ideas and people to create meaningful solutions. The goal of KM is to improve the efficiency of an organization's collective intelligence.
So, why should organizations invest in a knowledge management system? Here are just 6 benefits that can enhance both the employee experience and the aims of an organization itself:
By having a comprehensive knowledge management system in place, employees can quickly and easily access the organizational knowledge needed to hit the ground running; this saves time, resources and makes for smoother onboarding experiences.
Knowledge management systems offer insights into trends and data that are otherwise obscured; enabling organizations to make more informed decisions on a regular basis and make decisions with greater certainty and security, minimizing risk.
Having a comprehensive knowledge management system in place allows organizations to quickly answer customer questions, provide timely support and resolve problems faster.
Knowledge management supports the business’ ability to provide holistic responses to complex, multi-layered queries. Whereas traditionally ‘first time response’ metrics created a single question-single response mindset, the customer relationship today is based on the drive to provide a complete response – which in turn increases customer retention.
This helps to improve the overall customer experience and helps businesses build a solid and reliable reputation with their clientele.
With access to the right and, importantly, up-to-date information, employees can quickly and easily get up to speed on their role, as well as the roles of other employees and other departments. This knowledge building helps to improve performance, which in turn allows organizations to achieve more with less resources. Motivated employees confident that they are providing accurate and consistent information will engage better with your customers.
A comprehensive knowledge management system also allows employees to upskill with ease, making them better equipped to take on more senior roles and responsibilities in the future. Not only does this result in an enhanced employee experience, but it also saves money on new hires - the average cost of filling a vacancy in the UK is £6,125, and the cost of an unmotivated/ disillusioned hire is greater both in terms of the financial and emotional impact on current employees.
Collaboration is key to any functional workplace, especially as the rise of remote work continues.
Knowledge management systems enable team members to quickly find the information they need to collaborate effectively and complete tasks faster; this increases efficiency within an organization and helps reduce costs associated with lost productivity.
Enabling channels that employees can use to collaborate and communicate on knowledge improves not only the quality of the content, but also how and how often it is used. So knowledge management also reduces the need to invest additionally in consultants and trainers to interpret and explain your own knowledge back to your employees.
We have learned 5 particular lessons about implementing knowledge management systems:
Just like starting any other project, you need to create a plan for implementing your knowledge management system.
Think about the business problems you want to solve by putting together a list of short and long-term goals. You must know what you are trying to accomplish so you can then measure the success of your knowledge management system.
Clearly state when, who and how to implement the knowledge management system.
Implementing anything new can be challenging. Encouraging employees to adapt to something new is important for the success of your project. Consider setting up a change management team. Share the different objectives and benefits of your KM system relevant to each department and collect feedback from everyone.
To make your knowledge management system a success, you need people to use it. Engaging employees with the system is key; encourage them to contribute to knowledge and train them on how to use the system through training sessions and training videos.
As you’ve set out the goals and objectives in the beginning of your knowledge management project, you now need to know how effective the knowledge management system is.
Make sure you have a clear picture of the ‘before' situation to compare with the ‘after’ implementation stage. Keep in mind that seeing results will take some time but that monitoring performance will help you improve your knowledge management implementation step by step. Some things may work well for your organization and some won’t; there may be gaps or your vision may change. Continuous monitoring is important to keep your knowledge management system effective.
Here are some other points we'd recommend considering when implementing your KM system:
A successful knowledge management system starts with planning and strategizing; figure out what the end goal is and identify what needs to be done to achieve it.
This means outlining the strategy, objectives, goals and KPIs that need to be met, as well as mapping out the technologies and processes required for implementation.
You need to invest in the right software for your knowledge management system. The software should be accessible and intuitive so that all employees can find the information they’re looking for quickly, irrespective if they want to navigate to what they need or search for it.
This means the knowledge management software must support different user journeys that always get users the same, correct, result quickly. The software also needs to be scalable and secure so that as your operations grow so does your system’s capacity to store, manage and retire knowledge.
Once your KM system is up and running, the content within the system needs to be regularly updated so that it's always relevant to company operations.
This means making sure all documents, policies, processes and procedures are reviewed on a regular basis by an appointed person or team. Assigning a knowledge management role to one person in each department can be an efficient way to do this, and monthly updates should be a key pillar of their duties.
Aligned with regular reviews of the quality and accuracy of the content is the continual monitoring of how content is found and being used. If content isn’t being used, is it still relevant, does it make sense to invest in it or assign resources elsewhere? If content that is critical to the business isn’t being found, how can you make it more visible?
The quality of content determines how helpful it is to those who need it. Quality content depends on several aspects:
To encourage employees to contribute to the knowledge management system, it’s important for organizations to provide rewards or recognition for their contribution. This could be something as simple as a bonus or additional leave days. This will act as an incentive for employees to share their knowledge with the organization and help to build an effective KM system that incentivizes curiosity, knowledge sharing and a culture of collaboration.
Download our popular Knowledge Management eBook. A comprehensive guide to knowledge from creation to application.
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The key takeaway we have gained – and the one we hope to leave with you – is that the right knowledge management system can make all the difference to organizational growth and productivity.
Learn more in our Knowledge Management eBook; a comprehensive guide to knowledge from creation to application. Fill in the form below to download.
A comprehensive guide to knowledge from creation to application.
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