Often when we’re talking to a new client, we get asked for our opinion about what we think is the best knowledge management system. In most cases, we think that the best knowledge management platform is one that is already being used on a regular basis by most staff rather than adding yet another platform and contributing to platform proliferation, a common challenge in today’s digital environment.
While many software vendors will tout their API and integration capabilities, the reality is that API integrations are rarely bi-directional when dealing with flat files such as Word documents, spreadsheets, slide decks, and PDFs. In these cases, information/data gets pushed from one system into another, but then changes rarely get pushed back into the original platform. The result is further fragmentation, continued user frustration, and more work for IT.
Adding a new platform typically means adding another silo of information into the mix — not all staff members have access, it’s not possible to search the new system alongside of other pockets of existing information, and adding a new platform brings with it a new set of information security considerations.
So while many vendors have developed visually appealing, slick interfaces which look fantastic during a demo, adopting a new system for knowledge management rarely solves root knowledge management challenges. Instead, we see organizations spending money on a new system, expensive integrations, migrating data, training, and change management — all of which end up replicating existing knowledge management challenges in another platform.
Before going down this path, make sure you’ve carefully considered what problems you’re trying to solve, defined the requirements for a new platform, and have determined what benefits your organization will gain. Otherwise, a significant investment in technology likely won’t address the underlying knowledge management problems and won’t result in the sought after transformation.