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Knowledge Management in Organizations

Knowledge management systems may not be a household term in every organization, but that doesn’t mean they are any less important to the efficiency, organization, and competitive edge of businesses. But what is knowledge management and why is it important? We’re so glad you asked.

What is Knowledge Management in Organizations?

Simply put, the knowledge management definition is any system that helps people in an organization share, access, and update business knowledge and information in order to increase the workforce’s overall knowledge and productivity.

The primary goal of knowledge management is to improve efficiency and productivity while retaining essential information within the company. By grabbing your most valuable asset—employee expertise and knowledge—by the horns, you can maximize efficiency and empower employees to improve their decision-making abilities. It also helps set yourself up to be more productive and cost-efficient. Having access to the right knowledge at the right time through the magical world of a robust knowledge management system will produce accurate decision-making and stimulate collaboration and innovation.

Knowledge Management Comes in Various Forms

There are many components of knowledge management, and regardless of your organization’s industry, size, or knowledge strategy, there are certain processes and types that you should consider. These include:

Document Management: These systems act as centralized digital filing cabinets for company documents and allow organizations to store, share, and control access to company docs on the cloud. They make retrieving documents easy, support regulatory compliance, and pump up workflow.

Content Management Systems: Similar to document management systems, they also store audio, video, and other media types in addition to documents. They allow teams and individuals to publish, update, and access information on a company intranet.

Cross-Training Programs: Mentoring, shadowing, and other training programs allow employees to gain business knowledge by actually watching others work.

Social Networking: Social networking allows people to connect with each other, join groups, contribute info, and discuss issues they are interested in. As it influences knowledge, management systems can apply social networking to identify and transfer knowledge.

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Importance of Knowledge Management

The entire approach of knowledge management systems hinges on the ability to enable employees to have access to various solutions, sources of information, and documented facts. That, right there, outlines the importance of different types of knowledge management. Let’s break it down a bit more…

Three reasons why knowledge management is important

According to Forbes, Fortune 500 companies lose roughly $31.5 billion a year by failing to share knowledge. Knowledge management tools allow you to organize your information, make sure all of your employees are on the same page, and ensure everyone is using the latest practices with the very best information.

  1. Knowledge management captures important work knowledge from people who may be retiring or leaving the company. Building a legacy of knowledge is about preserving everything your company has already done. This includes values, missions, and principles, but also operational and strategic challenges you’ve conquered.
  2. It helps new hires and teammates find answers to frequently asked questions and important information they may need while on the job. This increases productivity for your employees and prevents wasted time looking for information they need, whether on the network, in folders, on the cloud, or even with other team members.
  3. It empowers and enables teammates by giving them access to the knowledge they need to succeed. Having knowledge and experience readily available allows employees to master whatever topic or area they’re active in. This information becomes ingrained in their minds after using it so often, which, in turn, provides a sense of ownership.

The important takeaway here? It’s time to give your team fast, accurate answers to their questions right in their moment of need.

Benefits of Knowledge Management

Knowledge management systems offer something to benefit almost every type of business, from tech companies to retailers. If you have more than one employee or you collaborate with employees outside of your business, you can benefit from using knowledge management software. Some of our most helpful benefits of knowledge management in an organization include:

  • Faster, better decision-making: If an organization wants to make better decisions, having access to information is essential. Knowledge management solutions can help the decision-making process by providing accurate and comprehensive information in a matter of minutes.
  • Improved employee onboarding and training: Rather than repeat the mistakes of the past, the trainers can adjust the process to address the limitations of prior training.
  • Increased productivity and efficiency: This is the true secret sauce of knowledge management. Every business is made up of countless processes that both leaders and their people execute every day. But if you notice that one employee tends to consistently deliver better work or receive higher customer feedback, it may be a good opportunity to have them share techniques and processes with the rest of the team. So you see—the right knowledge management system ensures that everyone has the information they need to perform their jobs as darn well as possible.

Knowledge Management Process

Developing a knowledge management process within your business requires an initial assessment of your existing business processes so team members can integrate knowledge management strategies where they make the most sense. Pairing the right steps or actions with appropriate business processes gives people in your organization access to the knowledge they need to make important decisions, boost efficiency, communicate with their team or clients, train employees effectively, add their own expertise, and more.

Acquire

To acquire knowledge via knowledge assets is one of the ways to generate knowledge. Didja follow that? Collecting and acquiring knowledge is an essential part of the knowledge management process. Think about it—if incorrect data is collected, the resulting knowledge will also not be accurate. Consequently, the decisions made based on the data would also be inaccurate because they are derived from insignificant knowledge.

Create and store

Knowledge creation and sharing relate to describing, classifying, categorizing, and indexing information so it can be easily retrieved, navigated, reused, and shared among employees, teams, and other key users. Whew. Therefore, the right knowledge management system can help you sort and segment knowledge so information is readily accessible by the people who need it most.

Distribute and share

Knowledge sharing within your organization means making knowledge available to those who actively seek it, as well as directly communicating appropriate knowledge to those who could potentially benefit from it (and benefit your business). Team leaders should regularly encourage, and possibly incentivize, knowledge sharing.

Apply and use

The application step happens when an individual or team can take captured knowledge and apply it to enhance efficiency, improve business operations, complete a strategic task, and communicate more effectively with team members or customers. For example, a documented lesson learned from one rep’s complex customer interaction may help the process for a teammate in a similar situation. See how that works?

Analyze usage and start the process over again based on findings

The analytical part of this process is an effective path for capturing the learnings gained from knowledge management initiatives. It involves reviewing a project after it is complete to explore what happened. From there, you can decide what parts of the process to keep and what to change next time.

A strong knowledge management process provides knowledge through an organized process for creating, sustaining, and renewing to create value. These processes constantly require the development of new skills and further improvement of existing potential.

Knowledge Management Tools and Techniques

Don’t be intimidated by the knowledge process. Sure, it is no small feat to implement, but organizations can make the process easier by using knowledge management tools.

What is a knowledge management tool and how does it help?

Knowledge management tools are systems designed to help with the sharing of information within an organization, both internally and externally. They help by serving as facilitators to ensure information flows are captured and managed to maximize value in your business. Tools like knowledge bases and customer relationship management systems help ensure all parties have access to the critical information they need to perform to their potential.

With the right types of knowledge management systems and tools, you can help your employees deliver more with less and enhance the capabilities of your business.

Manage your Organization’s Knowledge with Lessonly

If you’re looking for a partner to help manage your team’s internal knowledge, Lessonly Knowledge could be for you. Our system makes it easy for teams to get fast, accurate answers to common questions, right in their moment of need. With Knowledge, you can blend with Slack or download a simple-to-use browser extension that connects information across more than 16 common work apps like Google Drive, Confluence, Dropbox, and more. This automatically reduces repeat questions, clarifies best practices, and equips teammates to find answers quickly—all within their normal workflow. Schedule a demo with our team today!