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Knowledge Management: 4 ways knowledge management tools boost productivity

11 August 2022
  

Knowledge management is an increasingly key focus in business, which makes sense given how knowledge management correlates to productivity and efficiency, and current concerns about looming financial storms. Smart businesses are bracing themselves, and much of their preparation hinges on more effective knowledge management.

However, knowledge management is not just for short- or medium-term impact. Knowledge worker productivity is crucial for organizational innovation and competitiveness, yes, and also for sustainability.

A study recently published by Baltic Journal of Management finds that knowledge creation and utilisation have a positive and statistically significant impact on knowledge worker productivity. This blog explores the idea of knowledge management and how technology can enable it.

In this blog:

Let’s start with understanding knowledge management

Knowledge management "is managing the corporation's knowledge through a systematically and organizationally specified process for acquiring, organizing, sustaining, applying, sharing and renewing both the tacit and explicit knowledge of employees to enhance organizational performance and create value,” according to Davenport & Prusak (2000).

A little more simply put, knowledge management (KM) involves managing the knowledge that creates value for the organization.

At ClearPeople, you often hear us talk about making the right knowledge available to the right people at the right time.

Understanding employee productivity

The concept of employee productivity varies. To some, employee productivity means how much quality work is done in certain time (a day, a week, a year). Peter Drucker defines it as “a balance between all factors of production that will give maximum output with the smallest effort.

The European Productivity Council meanwhile, says: “Productivity is an attitude of mind. It is a mentality of progress, of the constant improvement of that which exists. It is the certainty of being able to do better than yesterday and continuously. It is constant adaptation of the economic and social life to changing conditions. It is the continual effort to apply new techniques and method. It is the faith in human progress.”

At ClearPeople we think of productivity as how effectively organizations, and the people working in them, produce value from individual and collective contributions. We’re always working on ways to enhance employee productivity, including:

  • Automating low value tasks
  • Knowledge management
  • Empowering employees to make more decisions at the local level
  • Employee training
  • Process improvements

The point is that knowledge management and productivity go together.

Why the emphasis on employee productivity?

It makes sense. Happy, healthy employees are productive. Productivity is the basis of a company’s success. A healthy work environment where people can work productively impacts an employee’s sense of purpose and wellbeing and has a spill-on effect for the level of customer service people are motivated to provide.

Improved productivity means increased output for the same amount of work – or less.  And understanding productivity helps you see what may be preventing employees from completing tasks on time.

How knowledge management impacts productivity

Knowledge management involves centralizing the collective intelligence of an organization and making knowledge easily available so that all employees have what they need to do their work.

Here are some ways good knowledge management has a positive impact on productivity:

  • Knowledge management reduces the disruptions in the flow of work. On average, it takes knowledge workers 25 minutes to get back on task after an interruption. When employees can find the information they need through a quick search, they experience fewer disruptions and get more done.
  • KM minimizes repetitive requests to subject matter experts. SMEs often field the same questions from different employees. Enabling people to self-serve or find the answers they need themselves dramatically reduces interruptions.
  • Provides customers with answers faster.

Here are some examples of knowledge management tools or methods that contribute to productivity:

  • People directory or expertise locator - Used to identify and locate the people within your organisation who have expertise in a particular area. The quicker you locate someone to answer your question, the quicker you can get on with your task or answer a client.
  • Cross-training programs – Mentoring, shadowing and other training programs where people watch others work allows employees to gain business knowledge faster.
  • Lessons learned – Often not explicitly captured, lessons learned sessions are an important way of not repeating mistakes and shoring up “how to do it” knowledge.
  • Communities of Practice (CoPs) – CoPs are groups of individuals with shared interests that share and discuss problems and opportunities, best practices and lessons learned.
  • Collaboration tools – Tools like Microsoft Teams allow teams to communicate and collaborate in a shared space. But these tools also store historical conversations, allowing employees to search for previously-discussed information.
Knowledge Productivity Playbook Cover-1

Our Knowledge Productivity Playbook is a comprehensive guide to knowledge management and productivity in a hybrid working world.

DOWNLOAD PLAYBOOK

 

4 ways knowledge management tools increase productivity

Organizations can improve knowledge access, productivity, and the overall employee experience.

1. Make knowledge searchable

There is a reason why search engines such as Google are so popular – they make it simple to find an answer to your question. Most of the time.
Atlas Search is a key knowledge and productivity tool. Atlas enhances Microsoft search in Teams or SharePoint to surface all content for all types of users, even guest users, from a single interface with pre-configured search scopes.

The more intuitive Atlas search experience is accessible directly from users’ digital workspace homepage.

Atlas is a productivity and knowledge hub.

 

Accessing this direct search enables search across all sorts of pre-configured business or information architecture verticals. This works even without typing any keywords as you can just go straight into a search listing page and start refining using a wide range of taxonomy and metadata filters, uncovering information sitting in data silos as well.

Within each search listing Atlas is capable of providing different types of content providing a unified user experience to reach any type of content in a single place.

For guest users, that can’t search at all within Teams, Atlas provides a great experience within the context of each Team they have access to. Atlas enriches each Team with additional features like access to the home page from a Teams tab in the General channel. Providing access from within Teams to the full Atlas Search for guest users, increases productivity and engagement of your extranet users.

It is worth noting all access through Atlas Search is permission trimmed ensuring the same level of compliance as from the native Microsoft search while providing a consistent experience and unleashing your user’s productivity.

2. Make it easy to share knowledge

Democratized knowledge management gives everyone the opportunity to contribute, refine and consume knowledge. Importantly, for the principle of knowledge management to work, the ability to access and share knowledge needs to quick and intuitive, requiring little or no training.

And for your in-house legal and IT teams, this democratization of knowledge needs to happen within a governance framework they know is secure and robust.

Atlas is specifically designed to help users easily contribute and share their knowledge and is full of features that assist one or several aspects of this. Atlas Add It, for example, is a straightforward knowledge and productivity tool that allows people to easily add information to a digital workspace that everyone within the company can access.

Setting up workspaces for a team or department, provisioned with the resources that team needs and set out in the way that suits the team’s work style and needs, is easily done through another knowledge management tool, Atlas ConneX.

3. Account for the different ways people find what they need

While search is the most popular way to find stuff, there are also other ways to help people find what they need. These include:  

  • A well-structured mega-menu
  • Signposting
  • Surfacing relevant content in the context of your work
  • Accessibility across devices

The Atlas In Focus web part allows you to display a variety of personalized content on a page, customized to a role, team, project or other criteria.

4. Make knowledge visual and engaging

Driven organizations are always looking at how to improve employee engagement and spread knowledge. Our work with hundreds of companies has led us to a clear, concise answer: focus on learning.

For too long an organization’s knowledge, if it’s captured at all, is wrapped up in long, tough-to-digest documents heavy on text and light on engagement. We all know a picture paints a thousand words, so why don’t we apply that?

Atlas HoverPoint is a powerful, easy-to-use tool for creating interactive images in Microsoft 365 which makes learning and sharing knowledge so much simpler and more effective.

The HoverPoint tool allows for interactive images where you can hover over elements to get more information:

HoverPoint Process without hover

 

 

Atlas HoverPoint is a powerful knowledge management tool.

 

 

How Atlas provides the best knowledge management tools for productivity

Atlas makes finding and sharing knowledge in Microsoft 365 intuitive, with tools that engage users to capture knowledge, including AI, a centralized knowledge base and a powerful way to find knowledge.

Atlas significantly enhances knowledge management in SharePoint and other Microsoft applications with a more robust search, a true information architecture, taxonomy and term management. Atlas collates information that normally sits in separate silos in Microsoft 365 such as documents, external insights, Teams chat and more.

In summary, Atlas overcomes some of the key knowledge management challenges organizations face:

  • only a small percentage of people contribute to an organization’s knowledge
  • information and knowledge are stuck in silos
  • knowledge is often not captured or converted from unstructured data
  • knowledge is hard to find if you don't know what you are looking for.

Solving these problems and enabling knowledge to be easily contributed, found and distributed across the organization is critical to empowering employees and increasing productivity.

 


Knowledge Management Blog Series

Here are more blogs about knowledge management:


 

Download The Knowledge Productivity Playbook

A comprehensive guide to:

  • Making corporate knowledge more visible
  • Overcoming knowledge management challenges from knowledge capture to sharing and application
  • Creating high performing knowledge teams
  • Measuring success

Knowledge Productivity Playbook

 

Author bio

Jeanne Davies

Jeanne Davies

From journalism to content marketing, I've always enjoyed learning and writing about a diverse range of topics, but the digital world has become particularly interesting to me over the last decade or so. ClearPeople gives me an opportunity to shape my work life and it's fascinating how technology allows me to create great working relationships with colleagues across continents and time zones.

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