You don’t need to be a corporation with tens of thousands of employees to be susceptible to information overload. On average, companies with less than 500 people use more than 200 business apps to run their daily operations.
But having more tools and processes can be a double-edged sword. Poor knowledge management systems can negate all the progress you see with your digital transformation efforts. Without a clear framework for capturing information and educating team members with relevant resources, you lose time—and ultimately, ROI.
So, what exactly is the importance of knowledge management to your organization? Keep reading to find out.
TL;DR: The importance of knowledge management
- Knowledge management is the process of organizing and sharing collective knowledge within an organization. It involves maintaining information in an easily accessible place.
- Effective knowledge management saves time and improves productivity by providing relevant information and resources to employees.
- It helps prioritize unique value-adds, reduces siloes within teams, and enables faster decision-making.
- Implementing knowledge management requires clear goals, standardization, efficient knowledge distribution, and keeping knowledge up-to-date.
- The knowledge management process involves identifying needs, capturing, organizing, storing, sharing, and continuously improving knowledge.
- Knowledge management systems (KMS) like document management systems, intranets, and wikis aid in this process.
What is the importance of knowledge management in modern workplaces?
Knowledge management is the process of creating, sharing, using, and managing the knowledge and information of an organization.
An organized approach to storing and categorizing important information allows value to be shared throughout your organization's hierarchy, whether it's new hires, seasoned employees, investors or executives.
Think about all the websites, apps, and software platforms you use daily. Email, Slack, Google Docs, Notion—we mean all of it.
Imagine how many hours an organization could lose if they had to:
- Hold live training sessions and Zoom meetings to teach employees about hundreds of digital processes.
- Answer the same process-related questions repeatedly via company communication channels.
- Recreate missing documentation that answers those process-related questions.
A 2023 Anatomy of Work report by Asana uncovered that workers who use more than 16 business apps could save close to 10 hours a week by having better processes. It’s safe to say that you can’t have better processes without maximizing the value of knowledge management.
Here are more benefits of implementing knowledge management:
1. More time to prioritize unique value-adds
You can create knowledge management systems that feed employees important information at the right time and places so they can overcome friction quickly and independently. This frees up their bandwidth to define and execute strategic work instead of looking for information or cleaning up files.
2. Fewer siloes within teams & between functions
Knowledge management can help your projects move along quickly so they can reach decision-makers quickly for approvals and execution.
Having your most important documentation ready to go at your fingertips is critical to meeting business milestones, whether meeting revenue targets or finally deploying a new project in the works.
3. Stronger & faster decision-making
Unsurprisingly, fewer siloes and easy access to critical information lead to more informed decisions.
Knowledge management empowers employees with accurate and relevant resources that they can use to build affinity and expertise at their jobs. Not only does this build confidence and leadership, but it also allows employees to prioritize outcomes rather than processes.
4. Consistent quality of work
A study by Deloitte discovered that 75 percent of surveyed organizations believe that creating and preserving knowledge can contribute to success over the next 12 to 18 months. Your workforce will evolve—and in today’s talent market, it can evolve fairly quickly—but a lot of your existing knowledge will remain relevant. Shared knowledge from subject matter experts ensures you pass on successful resources and training material to new employees. It also gives your organization a strong foundation to improve on existing knowledge instead of starting from scratch.
P.S. We have everything you need to get started—like this free, customizable knowledge management plan template you can duplicate and use immediately!
Don’t worry, there are more templates where that came from! Check out Scribe's gallery of free, customizable templates.
What does knowledge management look like in action?
Knowledge management for your business will depend on your specific needs and goals.
Here are some examples of how knowledge management can be used:
- Knowledge management is important for manufacturing companies to capture and share best practices for manufacturing processes, which could help reduce defects and improve quality.
- Companies can use knowledge management to document software development processes, helping to reduce the time and cost of developing new software.
- Consulting firms can use knowledge management to capture and share consultants' expertise, improving the quality of their services.
- Businesses can use knowledge management to create a customer-facing knowledge base to educate users about their products or services.
- Standard operating procedures (SOPs) are important for all businesses to define processes for each department or guides to help employees save time when learning new things.
Types of knowledge management
There are many different types of knowledge management, but they can be broadly categorized into four types of knowledge management:
1. Explicit knowledge management. Explicit knowledge is knowledge that is documented in some way and is easy to store, share and retrieve.
2. Implicit knowledge management. Implicit knowledge comes from an individual's skills, experiences, and intuition. It's often difficult to capture and share, but it can be valuable in helping to solve complex problems or make creative decisions.
3. Tacit knowledge management. Tacit knowledge is a combination of explicit and implicit knowledge. It's often gained through experience and specific to a particular context or situation—the "know-how" or "best practices" that aren't always easy to articulate or share.
4. Procedural knowledge management. Procedural knowledge focuses on the step-by-step instructions and processes required to perform specific tasks. It includes knowledge found in standard operating procedures (SOPs) and training programs.
In addition to these four types of knowledge management, there are also several other approaches to KM, such as:
- Personal knowledge management (PKM): Managing your own knowledge and information.
- Organizational knowledge management (OKM): Managing the knowledge and information of an organization.
- Community knowledge management (CKM): Managing the knowledge and information of a community.
Knowledge management process
The knowledge management process is a set of steps organizations can follow to create, capture, organize, store, share, and use knowledge and information effectively.
1. Identify and assess your knowledge needs. The first step is understanding what knowledge is important to your company and how it's currently being used. You can then assess your current knowledge management practices to identify gaps or improvement areas.
2. Capture and organize knowledge. Once you've identified your knowledge needs, you can begin to capture and organize knowledge. This can be done through a variety of methods, such as:
- Documenting knowledge: This involves capturing knowledge in a structured format, such as in manuals, procedures or guidelines.
- Creating knowledge repositories or central locations where knowledge is stored and organized.
- Encouraging knowledge sharing: Creating a culture of knowledge sharing within your organization.
3. Store and manage knowledge. Once knowledge has been captured, it needs to be stored and managed to make it easy to find and use. This involves using appropriate knowledge management software and developing policies and procedures for managing the knowledge base.
4. Share and use your knowledge. Knowledge is only valuable if it is shared and used. Encourage knowledge sharing by creating a culture of collaboration, providing incentives for knowledge sharing, and using technology and knowledge sharing systems to make it easy for employees to share knowledge.
5. Evaluate and improve. The knowledge management process is an ongoing one. Regularly evaluate knowledge management practices to identify areas for improvement.
Knowledge management systems
A knowledge management system (KMS) is a software application that helps organizations create, capture, organize, store, share, and use their knowledge and information.
Knowledge management system examples include:
- Document management systems (DMS).
- Content management systems (CMS).
- External and internal knowledge bases.
- Learning management systems (LMS).
- Communication and collaboration software.
- Data warehouses.
Challenges to implementing knowledge management
Although knowledge sharing is important and has many benefits, it can have little to no effect if it isn’t approached with an effective knowledge management framework.
Here are a few tips and best practices for overcoming these four common challenges of knowledge management:
1. Unclear goals & strategy
In the book “Good Strategy Bad Strategy: The Difference and Why It Matters,” author Richard Rumel describes strategy as a concept comprising three principles: A diagnosis, guiding policy and coherent action.
When creating your corporate knowledge management strategy, kick off your plans by:
- Identifying your team’s biggest challenges in retaining and applying knowledge.
- Building tactics around a north star that keeps your team’s goals and values in line.
- Creating convenient and user-friendly avenues for your team to apply these strategies for knowledge management in their day-to-day work.
2. Lack of standardization
When collective knowledge is shared across different departments and team members, guiding principles are necessary to ensure all information is kept for others. This means creating standardized guidelines for documenting, formatting, sharing and updating content. You can approach standardization by:
- Knowing all your stakeholders: Identify who you’re creating knowledge for, how they’ll apply that knowledge in their day-to-day responsibilities, and what channels would be the most convenient for them to access it.
- Creating a point of accountability: Identify the person or people overseeing the execution of your knowledge management process. This individual or team will be responsible for maintaining the quality of content coming into knowledge management systems and pointing out opportunities to update content or upgrade workflows.
- Investing in digital tools and automation: Identify the platforms and processes you can use to save time by digitizing manual work into streamlined workflows. For example, teams use knowledge sharing tools like Scribe to automatically compile screenshots and screen recordings into complete step-by-step tutorials for knowledge bases, training courses, and onboarding programs.
3. Knowledge distribution
Over half of workers surveyed by Deloitte say that knowledge management is about the process of sharing knowledge. Many organizations find distribution challenging, especially if each department uses its technology stacks.
The knowledge you create should be flexible and easy to locate. You can use platforms like Zendesk or Guru to build dynamic and user-friendly knowledge bases visible in your organization’s core systems.
On top of that, knowledge sharing Chrome extensions like Scribe allow you to integrate knowledge content within disparate tools through URL links and smart embeds. These tools also have native integrations, making it easy to scale distribution without complex technical know-how.
4. Keeping knowledge up-to-date
In a survey of 1000 employees, 83 percent had to recreate a document because they couldn’t access it. If your business is fast-paced or revolves around products that update frequently, your documented knowledge will quickly become irrelevant unless maintained. But even with a knowledge base, tackling versioning issues can be troublesome.
Modern workplaces use documentation tools powered by automation and intelligence to remove the tediousness of manual updates. With cloud-based knowledge management software, you can publish your updates in real time wherever your knowledge is published.
Automate knowledge management with Scribe
We believe that every company—whether big or small, technical or non-technical—should have access to tools that can save them time building a knowledge management engine. With Scribe, a click of a button is all it takes to turn your computer screen into a ready-to-share tutorial in seconds.
Scribe automatically transforms your knowledge into documentation. Simply turn on the extension or desktop app while using the product. Scribe documents your process for you—auto-generating step-by-step guides in seconds.
Scribe user Jerrod Lew shares how easy it is to use Scribe's generative AI features to create SOPs, how-to guides and more.
Scribe's powerful suite of features helps you:
- Automate knowledge creation and simplify how documents are shared and maintained, saving time, effort and money.
- With its user-friendly and intuitive user interface, anyone on your team can quickly and easily create SOPs, step-by-step guides, process documentation and more with one click.
- Create detailed, visual step-by-step guides with clear screenshots, screen recordings, and visible cursor tracking for each step.
- Add callouts like tips and alerts to provide more context to workflow steps.
- Use Scribe's GPT-4 technology to build and customize documents with more text, images, hyperlinks, and embedded videos from Loom and YouTube.
- Scribe integrates with thousands of tools, from project management platforms, to collaboration platforms like Confluence, to training software and knowledge bases, so your team can share knowledge anywhere.
- Keep documents up-to-date with automatic universal updates. Your edits in Scribe are saved and automatically reflected in all URLs and embeds.
Your final product will look like this (peep how this only took 55 seconds to make 👀)
What are the 4 C's of knowledge management?
The 4 C's of knowledge management are:
- Capture: Identify and collect knowledge from various sources.
- Create: Transform captured information into meaningful and usable knowledge.
- Codify: Convert knowledge into a format easily stored, retrieved and shared.
- Collaborate: Share information, ideas, and experiences among individuals and teams to foster a culture of sharing and learning, and to leverage collective intelligence.
What are the 5 P's of knowledge management?
The 5 P's of knowledge management provide a framework for understanding and implementing effective knowledge management practices.
- People: The creators, users and custodians of institutional knowledge.
- Processes: Methods and procedures used to capture, store, and disseminate knowledge. This includes documenting best practices, creating knowledge repositories, and implementing knowledge sharing and transfer workflows.
- Platforms: Technology, tools and systems used to support knowledge management activities.
- Policies: Guidelines and rules that govern knowledge management within an organization.
- Performance: Tracking, measuring and evaluating knowledge management initiatives to assess effectiveness and identify areas for improvement.
Wrapping up: the importance of knowledge management
The importance of knowledge management is that it helps organizations enhance performance, foster innovation and achieve goals. Organizations can use it to empower employees, improve decision-making, and streamline processes—all highlighting the importance of knowledge management.
Simplify the process by letting Scribe do the work for you. Create valuable knowledge assets in a matter of minutes, then easily edit them as your processes evolve. Sign up with Scribe for free today and get started!