If you want your organization or business to thrive, a knowledge management guide is an excellent place to start.
There are varying definitions of knowledge management, but each focuses on making information easier to find and use. A robust knowledge management system can help your company stimulate innovation, save time, improve collaboration, and increase productivity.
How do you take advantage of knowledge management systems for your business? Take a look at this comprehensive guide to knowledge management in 2022.
What is Knowledge Management?
Knowledge management is the creating, distributing, leveraging, and ~managing the knowledge~ or information of an organization.
Of course, it’s a bit deeper than that. While the term describes the concept of knowledge management, it can also refer to the tools, behaviors, methods, and practices of identifying, capturing, retrieving, and sharing information assets.
Although it might sound simple, knowledge management has many benefits, including improving problem-solving, decision-making, collaboration, innovation, and time management, among others.
Why is Knowledge Management Important?
A few aspects of what knowledge management systems can offer.
A company’s knowledge and information are among its most valuable assets. Making sure that information is easily usable is a step toward creating additional growth and innovation.
According to a McKinsey Global Institute report, a well-built knowledge management framework can reduce the time it takes to search for information by as much as 35%. As a result, productivity can increase between 20% to 25%.
Who Uses Knowledge Management?
Any organization, team, or business can use knowledge management systems — and many already do. From Silicon Valley to Wall Street, many major companies rely on knowledge management to ensure that they store information in a logical, accessible, and safe manner.
Of course, this doesn’t just stop at businesses. Nonprofit organizations and government entities can also use these organizational systems to improve information access.
Individuals might also use knowledge management techniques as a sort of “second brain,” or organizational method to store their ideas, goals, and knowledge. This, of course, allows for a greater level of individual personalization.
Benefits of Knowledge Management
There are several benefits to implementing a knowledge management system in your own business or organization.
Helping Teams Better Align Initiatives & Goals
A knowledge management process will lay out a team’s objectives, tasks, and projects. If set up properly, a good system can eliminate vagueness, increase collaboration, and ensure a team can move toward their goals and collaborate on current endeavors with clarity.
Almanac helps teams stay organized and consistent.
There’s a lot of time that can be saved in the process of capturing, searching for, and retrieving information. By simplifying and streamlining procedures surrounding information, a knowledge management system can increase both an employee’s productivity and effectiveness.
Retain Knowledge Within an Organization
A well-built, secure, and private knowledge management system can ensure that a company’s internal documentation stays safe and accessible for years — if not decades. It can also ensure that information isn’t leaked to third parties.
Enhanced Customer Experience
Though they may not see it, knowledge management can help customers, too. If information is easily accessible by support staff, customers will have a much smoother and faster experience.
Ongoing Growth-Based Knowledge
Knowledge management systems, by their very nature, foster the sharing of ideas. Because of that, it can stimulate innovation and growth. More than that, a knowledge management system can also help draw connections from older information to create new ideas.
The History of Knowledge Management
IBM graphic developed for their knowledge management consultants.
Knowledge management first became an established discipline in the 1990s. According to KMWorld, it sprung out of the management consulting community and was largely driven by the adoption of the Internet and the need for an efficient organizational method.
The Internet was a key factor since it allowed organizations and businesses to make information available to dispersed units of their business, no matter where they were. So was born the intranet: a smaller piece of the Internet accessible only to specific members of an organization.
By applying their project management expertise to these company intranets, the early developers of the discipline were able to foster expertise in the tools, techniques, databases, and best practices needed for the efficient storage and accessibility of information — or, in other words, what eventually became knowledge management.
The information as we know it in this knowledge management guide first went public in 1993 at an Ernst & Young conference. Academic and author Tom Davenport provided a succinct definition of knowledge management: “Knowledge Management is the process of capturing, distributing, and effectively using knowledge.”
After that conference, knowledge management became a product pitched to large enterprises and organizations, and the rest is literally history!
How to Create a Successful Framework for Knowledge Management
When creating this knowledge management guide, we knew building such a system can be as simple or time-consuming as you make it. Of course, larger businesses with more information — or a greater need to store and access information — will likely require more complex knowledge management systems.
With that in mind, there are a few simple steps you can take to help create a good framework for creating a knowledge management system.
What is the Focus?
There are two general categories of knowledge management systems, broken down by the focus of the information being captured, stored, and accessed. They are internal knowledge management and external knowledge management.
Internal knowledge management is a way of managing information relevant to an organization’s employees and their job performance. Frequently, it focuses on learning from past experience and research to improve efficiency.
In addition, internal knowledge management systems can also include standard company documentation such as operating procedures, policy documents, and employee onboarding documents.
External knowledge management refers to the opposite: knowledge management for third parties or outside individuals to access. This can include but isn’t limited to customer support documents that can help answer a question that a consumer might have.
Who Are the Involved Parties?
Once you figure out whether you want to build an internal or external knowledge management system, you’ll need to ask yourself who will be involved in the system.
For example, a specific department within your organization’s architecture can create and maintain an internal knowledge management system. Others may or may not have the ability to contribute to the system, so in this case you need to determine whose responsibility it is to maintain.
You’ll also need to divvy up information based on this access. Company standard operating procedures might be accessible by any employee, but more sensitive knowledge should probably be compartmentalized.
When it comes to external knowledge management, it’s usually a simpler process because they are often accessible to anyone.
Tools & Technology
Knowledge management systems can be hand-built, but it’s much more efficient — and arguably better — to go with a solution that’s already on the market. So the first step in your company’s knowledge management lifecycle is to pick a platform.
Almanac can help in facilitating your knowledge management system by allowing you to easily create the necessary documentation to do so. At its heart, Almanac has a powerful and speedy document editor with features version control, bidirectional mentions, real-time collaboration, and more.
One of Almanac’s many management features that make your work (and life!) easier.
Knowledge management isn’t Almanac’s only functionality either. The app comes with a full suite of tools for simplifying feedback and approvals, project management, easy searches, and others.
What are Challenges in Knowledge Management?
Knowledge management can be a surefire way to increase your organization’s productivity and growth. However, there are some challenges that go along with attempting to implement such a system.
Some of the challenges of knowledge management include:
- Identifying ways of efficiently capturing information
- Getting past the learning curve and set-up time
- Making the information easier to search for and find
- Motivating team members to contribute to the system or share knowledge from it
- Aligning goals across the company
- Integrating a knowledge management process into your existing procedures.
You can alleviate many of these problems by being clear about your goals, defining the scope of your system, creating a culture of sharing information, and using a robust tool to create your framework.
How to Implement Knowledge Management Systems
Implementing a knowledge management process in your own business or organization really comes down to this: identify some of the problem areas you have and apply a knowledge management framework to alleviate them.
To implement a proper framework, you should establish your objectives, prepare for change within your organization, and then define your processes at a high level.
As we’ve discussed earlier, you’ll also need a good platform to create your system. Almanac is the best choice for that. Once you have the tool to do so, you can assess your current knowledge management framework (or lack thereof) and build a roadmap to guide the switch.
And at the end of the day, this knowledge management guide is merely a jumping-off point to get you started on the right track. You’ll learn some of the intricacies and challenges unique to your own organization’s information as you do it.
Knowledge Management Best Practices
Before you implement a knowledge management process, you’ll need to identify the best practices. Here are the best practices to get the most out of the platforms.
Here are just a few.
- Identify your problem areas. Figuring out your challenges can help you tailor your system appropriately.
- Measure what you can. Analytics are important to ensure that a knowledge management framework is increasing efficiency.
- Don’t just store your information — use it. Knowledge management isn’t just archival. You should make the knowledge as easy to exploit as possible.
- Make it user-friendly. The point of knowledge management is to make information accessibility easier. To that end, make your system as easy to navigate and read as possible.
Try Almanac for Your Knowledge Management Needs
If you’re ready to kickstart your company’s or organization’s transformation, then you should highly consider Almanac.
Using Almanac will help you create a comprehensive knowledge management framework for your organization. Plus, it conveniently packs a suite of other features that can make communicating and collaborating much easier.
Beyond features for storing, organizing, and ensuring accessibility of information, Almanac has plenty of other uses. The platform can also be used for project and task management, team communication, and more.
Learn more about Almanac, including its suite of features and pricing today.