Knowledge Management FAQ
- What is knowledge management?
- What are some symptoms of a knowledge management problem?
- What technologies or systems do you recommend for knowledge management?
- What's the best knowledge management platform?
- Where should we target our knowledge management efforts?
- How do we get started with improving our organization's approach to knowledge management?
What is knowledge management?
We define knowledge management as the ways an organization creates, captures, secures, describes, shares, and re-uses knowledge and information.
It’s about connecting people to the information and knowledge they need to be successful -- while also making sure knowledge assets are appropriately protected, available, and accessible to the right people.
Successful organizational approaches to knowledge management impact people, processes, technology, organizational culture, and governance.
What are some symptoms of a knowledge management problem?
A knowledge management problem can manifest itself in a bunch of different ways, but some common symptoms include:
- Staff are frustrated because they’re wasting lots of time “hunting” or looking for information
- Wasted organizational time and resources due to “reinventing the wheel” and “duplicating efforts across silos”
- An organizational culture that encourages “information hoarding”
- Loss of valuable data, information, and knowledge when a critical staff member retires or leaves the organization
- Information, data, and knowledge are leaking out of the organization due to weak security practices
Fortunately, all of these challenges can be addressed with a robust knowledge management strategy and implementation plan. But confirming a knowledge management diagnosis is only the first step!
What technologies or systems do you recommend for knowledge management?
In most cases and for most organizations, we recommend using technology already in place and in widespread use within the organization -- information and knowledge management should be part of everyday processes, workflows, and tasks, not a siloed set of activities. We’re not fans of standalone knowledge management systems. (Plus, most organizations already have too many platforms -- a knowledge management pain point in itself!)
What does this mean? For many of our clients, that means using Office 365, Salesforce, or Google. For Microsoft shops, Office 365 includes a whole suite of tools that can work quite well for managing information and knowledge. When properly configured, secured, and rolled out, SharePoint, OneDrive, and Delve are extremely powerful tools. The problem is that most organizations aren’t using them to their full potential.
Another popular option is Salesforce, but only when it is already widely in use. Salesforce itself has many knowledge sharing capacities, plus a robust knowledge base and the ability to create communities for groups of external stakeholders such as members, collaboration partners, clients, or customers. Like Office 365, Salesforce is only as good as how it has been configured, secured, and deployed, and how widespread uptake is within the organization.
But more than anything, it comes down to your strategy and goals. What is your organization trying to accomplish? What problems are you trying to solve?
There’s no one-size-fits-all solution, so it’s critical to align your knowledge management needs with other organizational priorities and realities.
What's the best knowledge management platform?
We’re big advocates of using what you have for knowledge management efforts and integrating data, information, and knowledge management practices into the systems already in use at your organization. Quite simply, we don’t believe standalone knowledge management systems work for most organizations.
Where should we target knowledge management efforts?
For knowledge management to be most effective, efforts should be targeted to hit all levels within an organization -- personal knowledge management; department, project, or team-based knowledge management; organization-wide; and, as appropriate, outside of the organization to touch key stakeholders such as members, partners, customers, clients, or Board members.
How do we get started with improving our organization's approach to knowledge management?
For our clients, we begin with a discovery and assessment process to fully flesh-out what’s working and what’s not within an organization’s data, information, and knowledge management environment -- everything related to how data, information, and knowledge are captured, secured, stored, shared, and re-used. We look at gaps, pain points, and risks within the current environment as well as strengths to build upon.
Once we’ve fully assessed the current environment, we work closely with our clients to develop a knowledge management strategy to establish a vision for the future. After a strategy has been defined, we can determine a course of action and prioritize and sequence tactics that align with the strategy.
It’s critically important that a knowledge management strategy drives tactics, technology, and implementation, not the other way around. An implementation roadmap should connect the dots between strategy and tactics.
Once the implementation roadmap in place, it’s time for implementation. We’re fans of iterative, agile approaches that allow for testing, learning, and fine-tuning along the way.