Have you ever heard the term knowledge management? What do you think it means? There’s a lot of myths about knowledge management and its role in an organization. Today, we’re going to dive deep into knowledge management and why you and your organization should care about it. Read on…
Guess what’s the single most valuable asset a startup, company or a big organization possesses? The knowledge of its employees.
Despite the growing importance of tools, systems, software, IP, growth, customers, culture, etc. on the success of a business, employees remain the single biggest asset for any organization.
Employees are hired because of their knowledge, skills, and expertise in a particular field. Company’s aim to use that human capital to benefit their businesses.
Even though knowledge plays a key role in an organization’s success, there’s not much emphasis on the ability to preserve or manage this knowledge of the employees.
Unfortunately, most organizations do not provide these “knowledge workers” with a way to collect, manage and distribute their knowledge with the rest of the organization. This is especially felt after employees leave an organization…
What is knowledge management?
Knowledge management can be defined as the process of creating, managing, and distributing the knowledge and information of an organization. The knowledge shared in turn helps to solve problems and meets the goals of an organization.
American Productivity & Quality Center (APQC) defines knowledge management as a collection of systematic approaches to help information and knowledge flow to and between the right people at the right time (in the right format at the right cost) so they can act more efficiently and effectively to create value for the organization.
The key takeaway from this definition is the use of the word ‘right‘. Only when an employee has the right knowledge available to them at the right time, can they act immediately and provide maximum output towards their work.
Sources of Knowledge in an Organization
Knowledge exists in every corner of an organization. Various sources of knowledge include:
- Database and data warehouses
- Experienced employees & knowledge workers
- Collaborative tools, software, and systems like email, Slack, Trello, Bit.ai, etc.
- Physical and digital files and documents
- and so on.
The goal of knowledge management is to bring together these useful yet fragmented pieces of knowledge together and make it available to all the employees of an organization in a systematic manner.
Knowledge management is not about managing knowledge for knowledge’s sake. The objective of knowledge management is to create systems, techniques, and frameworks to use organizational knowledge to achieve goals and make sure that it aligns with its overall strategy.
Why invest in knowledge management?
To preserve the knowledge of knowledge workers
What happens if your key developer with years of experience decides to work somewhere else or retires? He/she takes the knowledge with them and it becomes an uphill battle.
- Their on the job experience is lost.
- How they viewed, looked at issues, dealt with projects, research they conducted are lost.
- Difficult to replace and find someone who has the experience they brought.
This is why knowledge management plays a crucial role in the organization. Knowledge management allows organizations to document the know-how and experience of senior managers so that the knowledge of the organization does not leave when the employee leaves.
Knowledge management framework is also used to train new hires and get them up to speed with organizational norms more quickly.
Reduce risks and future failures
It is a fact that the majority of the challenges or issue your employees or teams face will not be unique. Chances are that someone, somewhere in your business, has already solved most of the problems you are facing. Therefore, it makes sense to use that knowledge and avoid pitfalls and costly mistakes altogether. By preserving and accurately documenting knowledge, businesses can reduce the risk of similar errors occurring in the future.
Knowledge management comes particularly handy when an organization is going through a merger or acquisition. Since a lot of new employees must be joining forces or past employees leaving, effective knowledge management tactics help preserve the knowledge as well share or distribute it. This allows for a smooth transition or restructuring of the organization.
Re-use of knowledge fuels innovation. When you apply knowledge of people who have been in the field for a long time, you have a whole new, refined approach towards processes and problems. This new perspective gives birth to innovation and encourages a free flow of ideas.
Regardless of the motivation, knowledge management plays a crucial role in the overall success of an organization and is one aspect of business they should take very seriously.
Better decision making
By tapping into the experience of your employees around the globe, you can avoid their mistakes, apply their solutions, and make the right decision the first time. This leads to faster decision making and costs savings. While information overload or geographical boundaries can handicap managers seeking knowledge from other employees, having efficient knowledge management systems in place can facilitate better, more informed decisions.
What is a knowledge management system?
Did you know that Fortune 500 companies lose roughly “$31.5 billion a year by failing to share knowledge”? Yes, let that sink in.
Businesses are leaving gigantic amounts of money on the table by not having the correct processes, procedures or systems in place to create, manage, store and share organizational knowledge with the employees.
In this age of digital transformation, managers have to deal with an ungodly amount of information on a daily basis. A typical managers day is filled with hundreds of emails, group chat messages, media files, cloud documents and much more. This plethora of information and data results in employees feeling overwhelmed and potentially missing out on important information. There has to be a way to better streamline this amount of knowledge, create and share it with fellow employees, and retrieve it as when needed.
This is where a knowledge management system comes in. A knowledge management system helps provide a central repository for all information, data, and knowledge, thereby facilitating easy storage and retrieval. A Knowledge management systems refer to any kind of tool, software or IT system that:
- Stores and retrieves knowledge
- Streamlines flow of information in an organization
- Improves collaboration
- Locates knowledge sources
- Captures and uses knowledge for better decision making
Knowledge management systems help employees and executives cut through the noise, share information, and improve their decision-making.
What users need to look for in a knowledge management tool
A knowledge management tool must act as a central repository for key organization knowledge and assets. It should facilitate the process of information storage and retrieval. At the same time, it should be easy and intuitive enough for anyone in the organization to use and benefit from.
Make sure that your team’s knowledge management tool has these key features in order for it to be effective and useful:
A good knowledge management tool must allow real-time collaboration. This will give knowledge workers the opportunity to work together simultaneously, brainstorm ideas, innovate and solve problems with their collective experience and knowledge.
A knowledge management tool should make the process of documentation and content creation, as easy and robust as possible. It’s important that you can share knowledge that isn’t already created but also be able to share current and ongoing knowledge as well. Collaborative documents are a great way to share this collective knowledge. Make sure that the documents allow co-editing and are flexible enough to include various types of digital content.
Since a knowledge management tool is used to create, manage and store knowledge of the entire organization at a single place, it’s imperative for it to have a powerful search feature to locate content quickly. Knowledge is only useful when the right information is made available at the right time. You want to reduce the amount of time your team spends looking for a particular file or document.
Your knowledge management tool must have the ability to add tags, titles & descriptions to every piece of digital content. Smart filtering helps to facilitate a more accurate search. Your team needs to be able to categorize and add details to make information easier to search, find and work with.
Knowledge can take any form, from your documents, files, presentations, PDFs, Excel sheets, SlideShares, YouTube videos, web links, images, logos, GIFs, audio files or even social media content. It’s important for your team to have all this information in one place. Having a content library allows you to store all of your organization’s media assets at one location, making it easy for employees to store and access key information quickly. Make sure the knowledge management tool has features like “restricted access” or content control so that only people with access can view and share those digital assets.
An effective knowledge management system must be able to support a large number of users and huge databases. It should be flexible enough to grow with your growing team and support a large number of new hires and subsequently, more content.
A knowledge management system must support effective user management. You should be able to manage user roles and permission levels that work for your organizational structure. Features like password protection, document tracking, file access restrictions, etc. are important to keep vital organizational data safe and secure.
The goal of knowledge management is to allow sharing of knowledge and information amongst team members across various departments for effective decision making and collaboration. A knowledge management tool should facilitate this process by breaking down organizational silos and allow smooth flow of cross-departmental information sharing.
What knowledge management tool will make your team knowledge flow?
- Multiple people can simultaneously collaborate on a Bit smart document in real-time. It’s a wonderful way to manage projects, create client facing material, brainstorm, share meeting agendas, create proposals, and most importantly, share knowledge! And thanks to it’s smart editor, Bit makes the process of documentation and content creation quick and easy.
- Bit has a Content Library that automatically saves the images, files and digital content you add to your documents so that you can access and reuse them easily.
- Smart workspaces are created around projects, teams, departments, and clients to keep your documents, data and information organized. Workspaces make it easy to collaborate and ensure that the right team members have access to the right documents at the right time. They are fluid so your information can move through your organization’s workflows.
- Bit documents also support smart search, which allows anyone to search and find any files, images, documents etc quickly and easily across all of their workspaces. With the ability to effectively label content, users can search their digital assets using keyword, titles, descriptions, or tags. They can even search files based on its source. (i.e., YouTube).
- Bit allows users to manage permissions and information access that suits your organizational needs. It supports features like document tracking, password protection, file access restrictions etc that help keep your important company information safe.
Bit provides a common workplace for knowledge workers and experienced executives to collaborate with employees, share their knowledge, brainstorm ideas, store digital assets, and innovate together. The best part is that this knowledge is safely secured in your workspaces and can be shared (or kept private) with anyone in your organization!
Actively managing knowledge and using a knowledge management system like Bit can help organizations increase their chances of success. Bit helps preserve key knowledge for everyone to access, facilitating better decision-making, reducing the chances of error, stimulating innovation and encouraging a culture of constant learning.
The knowledge of your employees is the most vital part of your organization, one which should be preserved and shared across the organization. Only then, the people will be able to work as a cohesive group and tackle problems quickly and easily. A knowledge management tool lets you do just that and more. In this day and age of smartphones, software and artificial intelligence, your employee’s knowledge is one of the few things which is irreplaceable. Handle it wisely!
So what do you think about knowledge management systems? Are you using one currently? Let’s have a chat below!