When developing a new KM program, we strongly recommend kicking off the process by first taking stock of the current environment. Knowledge Management (KM) assessments are designed to do just that: they are a way to get a complete picture of the current state of KM practices within an organization, department, or team.
What is a Knowledge Management Assessment?
A Knowledge Management (KM) assessment is the process of capturing the current state of KM within an organization or department. The assessment process should be designed to solicit input from a representative group of staff and other key stakeholders to identify:
- What’s working and what’s not
- Pinpoint where knowledge flow bottlenecks are occurring
- Good practices for knowledge capture and knowledge sharing which can be built upon
- Potential early adopters or champions for KM
- How technology is/is not being used to support knowledge sharing
- Elements of the organizational culture and structure which present barriers to effective knowledge management
- Elements of the organizational culture and structure which support and encourage knowledge management
Findings from KM Assessments can sometimes be surprising – what was assumed to be a technology problem is often tied to organizational culture, day-to-day practices, or how cross-functional teams work together. Undergoing a KM Assessment can be extremely beneficial in helping groups develop a shared understanding of and common vocabulary to describe what’s working and what’s not.
KM assessments act as a springboard upon which future efforts are built, so it is beneficial to pull back and conduct an in-depth analysis of the current environment before trying to envision what the future might look like. Since we want to be certain that a new KM strategy addresses the right issues, it’s important to have a solid foundation upon which to start.
Developing a KM Program
For organizations striving to improve in any of these areas, we recommend the following process:
Undertake a full assessment of the current KM environment.
Develop a vision for the future, with goals and objectives for KM.
Establish a plan for how to get from the current state to the future state via tactics and an implementation roadmap.
Begin to implement new tactics, initiatives, activities, and ways of working together to integrate good KM practices into the fabric of the organization or department.
Review, assess, and refine KM tactics and the course of action as needed.