Organizations are a direct result of what they know. How they generate, store, distribute and manage the knowledge at their disposal heavily impacts their output.
For example, 68 percent of employees learn and train on the job, and one-quarter or even a half of this percentage being unable to access the necessary knowledge and information required to execute their duties would lead to widespread inefficiency, employee brain drain, inefficiency and overall poor results. This resource shares data that shows employees leave organizations with no knowledge management systems for companies that do.
In today's modern business world, organizational knowledge is a valuable asset that can give companies a competitive edge internally and externally. One way to gain this advantage is through implementing continuous improvement and knowledge management systems.
The question now is, are your employees well-positioned to succeed in their roles? Do you have knowledge management systems, and if so, are they effective?
In this article, we will explore the concept of knowledge management and its benefits within an organization and provide best practices for implementing a successful knowledge management system.
By the end of this article, you should have a better understanding of the value of knowledge management and how it can be used to drive business growth and improve efficiency.
So please sit back, relax and let's dive right into it!
What is knowledge management?
Knowledge management (KM) is connecting people, encouraging collaboration and thought, and aligning technology with business processes to facilitate the development, storage, and sharing of knowledge within an organization.
It involves the creation, sharing, and effective use of expertise to support the goals and objectives of the organization. It is also the process of finding, analyzing and implementing strategies, systems and practices to create, represent, distribute, and enable the adoption of relevant information, insights and experiences.
By providing decision-makers and employees with the necessary information they need, knowledge management can help an organization make informed choices that drive innovation.
There are two ways that knowledge management can occur: internally and externally.
Internal knowledge management
Internal knowledge management is the process of capturing, organizing, and sharing the knowledge and expertise that exists within an organization. This can include things like documenting:
- Corporate wikis.
- Company policies and procedures.
- Best practices.
- The expertise and experience of individual employees.
Internal knowledge management aims to help organizations improve efficiency, retain institutional knowledge and foster a culture of continuous learning and improvement.
This can be accomplished through various tools and strategies, such as creating a knowledge management system, implementing training and development programs, and encouraging employee collaboration and communication.
There are many use cases in which investing in internal knowledge management comes in handy like during:
Employee onboarding sessions
New employees must integrate into existing systems as soon as they come on board to ensure a smooth run.
Using a knowledge management system to document processes and procedures would ensure this is not a problem.
A knowledge management system can help teams to create documentation and resources to help customers see and understand all the possible means of getting value from a new product to adopt new technology.
Providing customer support is another viable use case for internal Knowledge management. Organizations can provide customer support by creating documentation of resources they need and can easily access on their website, allowing them the option of self-service. Or, in scenarios where they have to contact the support team, there’s a hands-on team in place to provide relevant support without wasting time.
External knowledge management
External knowledge management, on the other hand, is the process of collecting, organizing and distributing knowledge and expertise outside of an organization.
This may include:
- Product education.
- Industry trends.
- Market research.
- Competitive intelligence.
- gathering external partners' or customers' expertise and experience.
The goal of external knowledge management is to help organizations and their customers stay up to date with developments in their industry and make informed decisions based on a broad range of information.
This can be accomplished by combining different tools and strategies, such as networking with industry experts, participating in professional associations, conducting market research, and gathering customer feedback.
A use case for external knowledge management is:
Work training sessions
Work training sessions sometimes have employees travel across regions to get knowledge and insights from top industry leaders.
Documenting these events with techniques such as videos, audio recording, process guides, or even transcribing sessions into blog posts or webinars are some ways knowledge management can be done externally.
In company cultures, where attention is given to capturing and storing knowledge shared like this, Employees usually come back packed full of energy and new knowledge to get more work done.
Process of knowledge management
Before effectively understanding how to implement knowledge management successfully, it is vital to know the processes involved. These are broken down into four steps, and understanding each and following it strategically can increase your chances of success.
1. Knowledge acquisition
Knowledge acquisition is the development, creation and improvement of knowledge within an organization through a learning process.
This knowledge may come from different sources, such as internally amongst employees or external individuals that are brought in to share knowledge and expertise on a particular subject. The acquisition process typically involves training employees, encouraging a learning culture and employing new employees solely to provide new knowledge sources.
2. Knowledge storage
Knowledge is a waste if it can not be stored and documented.
This process involves keeping knowledge in a knowledge management system for future use. For knowledge to be valuable, it must be accessible long after its creation.
Keeping knowledge involves organizing and structuring information to be accessible in the most useful format possible. Without this, knowledge becomes disorganized and has no structure, making it difficult or impossible to find in the future when needed.
For example, every person on the team needs to understand the standard of operations of the company as a whole.
Yet, each team or department can have different standards of operation for their day-to-day management. If this information is not structured and adequately organized, we will have a confused workplace and a gap in knowledge acquisition.
3. Knowledge distribution
The mere possession or storing of knowledge is inefficient. What makes learning stick is when it gets to those who need it.
Suppose information is in silos in an organization; in that case, you can be sure to have a situation where one arm of the organization is moving in a separate direction from the other because, remember, everyone would act only based on the knowledge at their disposal.
Knowledge distribution refers to the process by which new information from different sources is shared and eventually can drive the creation of new knowledge, understanding and action.
Once the knowledge has been collected and stored, it is essential to make it available to those who need it. This may involve using knowledge management software to make the knowledge accessible to employees or using newsletters, webinars, and other communication tools to share the information with a broader audience.
4. Knowledge use
Knowledge use is associated with the ability of individuals of an organization to locate, access, and use information and knowledge stored formally or informally.
The way to implement using knowledge is by creating teams with intuitive and problem solvers as leaders, which would rub off on the remaining members.
The next step is implementing organizational processes and procedures that involve using the learned knowledge to solve problems, drive innovation within the organization, and provide support and resources to help them do so.
Benefits of knowledge management
As your company expands, having a dependable knowledge database will become increasingly crucial for running your business, serving your customers, and increasing profits.
Without a system for managing knowledge, your employees will waste time and resources repeatedly learning and relearning processes and assimilating information. This can be costly and inefficient. Additionally, you may lose valuable techniques or information if a knowledgeable employee leaves the company because only they can perform specific actions necessary to sustain operations.
Implementing a knowledge management system can help prevent these issues and ensure that knowledge is available where, when and how it is needed. When an organization can put knowledge to good use. It leads to better employee participation and performance.
Some of the benefits of knowledge management include:
Increased efficiency & productivity
For example, processes that would typically take days and hours to complete because you need information that is out of reach to become easier to maneuver. This also builds a culture where knowledge is valued and properly managed.
Because knowledge management makes knowledge available to everyone on a team, companies can now make better decisions. Employees also suspend lesser time on trial and error. This is because it becomes easier to identify mistakes, learn from them, and stick to what works.
By creating a system where knowledge is not restricted to certain parts of an organization, employees can collaborate and develop new and innovative solutions to problems. This leads to a culture of continuous improvement where employees constantly share ideas and processes to help the organization stay ahead of the competition.
Better customer service
When employees have access to the knowledge and information they need, they are better equipped to provide high-quality customer service. This results in increased customer satisfaction and loyalty.
Better information production & access
A knowledge management system can enable you to create relevant articles, videos, blog posts and other relevant resources for helping employees and customers learn about your product.
This makes it easier for employees and your customers to access the information they need to perform their tasks or carry out an action that saves you time and reduces frustration at any point of experience with your brand.
6 Top knowledge management best practices
Knowledge management best practices can help you stay on top of how you store, distribute and manage information in your organization. However, to succeed, you must implement strategies and best practices continuously.
Here are some best practices for effective knowledge management:
1. Define the purpose of your knowledge management efforts
It is essential to define the purpose of your knowledge management efforts to ensure that they align with your organization's overall goals and focus your efforts on the most critical areas.
This may require you to gain knowledge about employees' core strengths and weaknesses and better understand your customers, the market you are in, products, processes, and competitors.
Doing this early on would help you develop a strategy and approach that works just right for your organization. Also, don't forget to set measurable targets for this project.
2. Create a knowledge-sharing culture
To effectively manage knowledge, it is crucial to create a culture within the organization that promotes knowledge sharing. Encourage employees to share their knowledge and expertise with others in the organization. This may involve providing training and support to employees that show them how to share knowledge and be better team members. Also, connect regularly with stakeholders through meetings, online forums, or other communication channels to follow up on implementation across the organization. Having team leads use an adequately documented process to track progress could prove very helpful in the long run.
3. Use technology to support knowledge management
This McKinsey report shares that by using social technologies, companies can raise the productivity of knowledge workers by 20 to 25 percent.
Many tools and technologies are available to support knowledge management, such as database management software, collaboration and process documentation tools like Scribe.
You can turn any digital process into a step-by-step guide to educate employees and customers. Like this one that shows you how to let your team skip the Zoom waiting room.
You save time and energy that would have been spent manually describing the process and create a repository that can come in handy at another time. You can do this for pretty much any tool you work with.
4. Establish procedures for collecting and storing knowledge
Once the organization's knowledge needs have been identified, and a knowledge management strategy has been developed, the next step is to develop processes for collecting, storing and sharing the knowledge. This may involve creating a central repository of knowledge, such as a knowledge base or database, or using social media and other collaborative tools to facilitate sharing knowledge.
5. Create a rewards system
The bulk of implementing a KM system rests on your employee.
Adopting a rewards system to appreciate high performance could encourage more active participation and adoption amongst the remaining workforce. This innovation is also best for keeping the spirits high and showing your team you appreciate them.
6. Evaluate & continuously improve
Regularly evaluate the effectiveness of your knowledge management efforts and make changes as needed. This may involve revising your processes, updating your tools and technologies, or adjusting your approach.
By following these best practices, your organization can effectively manage its knowledge and information, leading to improved productivity, innovation, and decision-making.
Scribe as a knowledge management tool
Scribe is a free step-by-step guide maker that simplifies and automates knowledge-capturing, so you can build a better knowledge base — faster.
Whether you want to share, store or document:
- Customer training sessions.
- Employee onboarding or training materials.
- Standard operating procedures (SOPs).
... and so much more.
You can use a Scribe to turn it into step-by-step tutorials or create an internal or client-facing process document in minutes.
Here's a Scribe in action.
Scribe requires little to no effort on your end asides from clicking on the extension start and editing the text on the tutorial to appear as you like.
Create your first Scribe and, like Lance and many other Scribe users, see how it works in Action.
In conclusion, introducing knowledge management into your organizational processes can change a lot for good.
You might experience some kickbacks and challenges, especially if you are starting it from the start; however, with consistency and the right strategy in place, you will be able to get it running for your organization.
We hope this article provides you with a great head start.