Your guide to
knowledge management

Lessonly's powerfully simple training software helps teams learn, practice, and do Better Work.

laptop screen
topic card
sales card

What is Knowledge Management?

An Expert System

The knowledge management definition: the collection of knowledge throughout an organization that is then used to improve that organization’s performance and competitive advantage through sharing, learning, and innovating.

Considered an expert system, companies will often use the combination of knowledge management systems and software to assist in more efficient progress of processes and product. The system is a business’s approach to knowledge management whereas the software is the tool used to assist in that approach.[/vc_column_text]

Knowledge Management Systems and Software

Types of knowledge management systems are often understood as synonyms of knowledge management, but are really just versions of it. The most common types are as follows:

  • Content management system – a focused knowledge management system specified for the use of writers and designers to more simply create, edit, publish, and distribute content. The content management process is a more focused type of knowledge management.
  • Information management system – general term for a knowledge management software used to record and relay messages and processing in an organization
  • Business intelligence system – a system in which large amounts of an organization’s raw data is organized and analyzed to assist in knowledge management.

Knowledge Management in Theory and Practice

Knowledge management, in theory, seems simple. You might think, “Systems and software? I don’t need that! All it takes is good communication and a few file folders!”


In fact, it would be a bit ironic to say that. Knowledge management systems and software exist to more easily communicate, organize, share, and store information. The importance of km processes in practice is much more complicated, but we’ll take is slow and start with the knowledge management cycle.

Knowledge Management Cycle

The knowledge management cycle is broken up into three sections: people, manage, and apply. These sections then consist of two factors. People are essential for the entire process, but particularly for the creation and learning of information. Creation of information begins the cycle, whereas learning the information comes in as the last part of the cycle.

For example, everyone at Lessonly is a creator and learner. Some department will use lessons to create informative information to share with the rest of the company. Then, if someone from another department has an idea, they can suggest it to the department, and the department can then implement it. This is an extremely small example. Most companies do this, but on a significantly larger scale.

Acquiring and organizing information is the management part which require systems and software. The storing and organizing of ease creates room for more refinement of information.

Applying information consists of sharing and learning to the people. As people share and discuss these insights, it leads to further improvements and innovations; the knowledge management cycle begins again with creation.

product screens

Better Work starts here

Take a Look

Knowledge Management Models

Thought the knowledge management cycle seems pretty fluid, there are different approaches to it. Before we get into the models, it’s important to note that there are two types of knowledge: tacit knowledge and explicit knowledge. Tacit knowledge is deeply rooted in experience and trials. Tacit knowledge is not concise or quantitative, but relies on emotions and hunches. Tacit knowledge is helpful in the process of elimination.

Explicit knowledge is knowledge that has been proven over and over in lecture and in numbers. It’s considered scientifically sound. This kind of knowledge is easily shared and considered as extremely accurate. Explicit knowledge is tangible.

Below are a few of our favorite knowledge management models (approaches):

SECI Model – Socialization, externalization, combination, and internalization. This model helps understand the nature of knowledge and relies heavily on the use of tacit knowledge.

  • Socialization rhetorically analyzes and takes into account the knowledge of how the people in a company communicate in a given environment
  • Externalization is taking the tacit knowledge from socialization and relating it to numbers to find and share trends.
  • Combination uses the explicit knowledge to create prototypes. Internalization is the linking of both types of knowledge to innovate.

The Capability Maturity Model – This model is often adopted for the knowledge management process. It consists of levels of understanding:

  • Level 1: Chaos – Processes at this stage are a bit sporadic. They’re undocumented, and results are unpredictable.
  • Level 2: Repetition – Processes on this stage are consistent, yet can be monotonous and resistant to innovation.
  • Level 3: Defined: This level takes all processes and integrates them with each other. It creates fluidity within a department and simultaneously throughout an organization.
  • Level 4: Process Management – Processes at this level collect data from a timeline of processes and trials to then improve upon them.
  • Level 5: Trial – The final level is taking the sound, consistency of tacit and explicit knowledge and developing new ideas with it.

Business Intelligence model – This model is often used in the knowledge management business process, and its data to then find practices and technologies to further its commercial context. Business intelligence process comes into play by:

  • Learning interdepartmental perception and performance.
  • Finding advanced technology to collect data in the most efficient manner
  • Facilitate communication between departments

Johari Window – This model helps us understand what information is available and how we are giving and receiving it. The Johari Window is made up of four quadrants: arena, blind spot, facade, and unknown. Sounds ominous, doesn’t it?

  • Arena – Mutually known information between the public and company. What is mutually known helps with advancements within a company.
  • Blind-spot – What is unknown to a company, but is public knowledge. It just has yet to be discovered.
  • Facade – Inside information. It’s unknown to the public, or to certain facets of a company, but is known by someone and has yet to be shared
  • Unknown – Information that is completely out of a company’s knowledge and control.

Benefits of Knowledge Management

You might still be asking, What is knowledge management and why is it important? Let’s hone in on that. The benefits of knowledge management are various. In short, knowledge management assists in efficiency of progress and communication within a company. In long, several factors come into play. The benefits of knowledge management in business are as follows:

  • Employees have easy access to information — Whether it’s corporate knowledge management or company-wide knowledge management, sharing information with employees is pertinent for progress. With access to information, employees become more open to implementing new ideas — some of which could be their own.
  • Previously recorded efforts can be reused, repurposed, or expanded upon. With new employees filing in and roles changing, processes, efforts, and accomplishments can be forgotten. To have those things recorded, a team can see where gaps and opportunities exist.
  • Information can be easily shared and learned (at Lessonly, we use our own software for knowledge management!). Learning is pertinent for creation. In order for the knowledge management cycle to be efficient, on-going training must happen for improved creations.
  • As information accumulates, recognized patterns and successes reduce costs from new efforts. Simply, when you learn what works and what doesn’t, you reduce costs on what doesn’t.
  • Improves products and productivity. Time saved is money saved. With new information and insights, less time is spent organizing and more time is spent doing.
  • Creates reference material for the repetition of the business information process.

Knowing the benefits of knowledge management will help anyone in a KM role with direction.

Lessonly as a Knowledge Management Software

Knowledge management tools are aplenty, but we’re partial to using our own software for internal knowledge management. Lessonly main purpose is for employee learning — the last facet of the km cycle, but we have found that our product is multi-purposed for recording, storing, and developing new processes.

Lessonly allows for a vast collection and storage of knowledge management, but in a way that allows for personal organization. With Lessonly, lessons can be created from any creator (assigned by administrators) and then shared company-wide or at an acute level.

The Lessonly interface is intuitive to teachers and learners. Lessonly lessons have clear labeling and automatic saving. A collection of lessons can be turned into a course and learner progress can be tracked with completion, quizzing, and question features.

Tracking becomes a major part of progress in knowledge management. If you know who is informed and who isn’t, those who are struggling can be paid more attention to. Lessonly gets teams up-to-date with knowledge management, and it keeps them there.

The Lessonly staff uses its own software to keep the company informed of what other departments are working on as well as what’s going on in the industry. We create these lessons on a weekly basis and we call them “Industry Updates.” That is just a small example of a way in which our staff stays informed company-wide.

Clients find Lessonly to be much easier than the construction, organizing, storing, and resurfacing than a knowledge management pdf or a knowledge sharing powerpoint (kms ppt)  presentation.

To make knowledge management even more efficient, is mobile friendly. Whether it’s on tablet or smartphone, learners can keep up and access information wherever they have internet access at whatever time they need.

Of All the Examples of Knowledge Management, This One is the Most Important

Knowledge management is used in a wide variety of industries for business intelligence content management, and information management process — with the military being the most popular example. The up-and-coming industry is knowledge management in healthcare industry.

What has dwindled: Healthcare knowledge management issues. Advances and successes in knowledge management for healthcare has created advances and successes in healthcare.

Surprisingly, the healthcare industry was of the last industries to adopt strategies for a knowledge base system or knowledge transfer process, but that has dramatically changed in the last few years. Knowledge management efforts have since assisted in the controlling and innovating use of data. That means more lives are being saved with health knowledge management!

Knowledge Management Purpose and Product

Knowledge management in purpose is intended to increase the knowledge base of every employee within a company so that every person is on the same page who needs to be. With a level, controlled, knowledge management approach, companies can worry less about keeping people informed and assume efforts toward innovation.

Having a staff member or small team completely dedicated to knowledge management will help strengthen the ties within a company. And not just ties in an objective sense (product and processes) but in a subjective one too. With people behind strong knowledge management programs, culture and communication thrive in business.

In regards to knowledge management product, the information collected over a period of time on a product can help innovate it. Information can be collected internally by a staff member and externally by clients. A knowledge management specialist on staff is helpful for picking up internal tidbits other employees say that may not seem important now, but can be of use later — which is the whole point!

At the end of the day — and quarter — knowledge management exists for product improvement. What starts with people, ends with product. Think of it like a wash cycle: People, product, repeat.

Just like learning is necessary knowledge management is necessary for an organization to flourish. The collection of data and insights over time allows companies to stay ahead of industry trends and, a lot of the time, create their own.

Helpful Knowledge Management Articles from Around the World

For a fun ending to this informative content, we offer case studies and closer looks of knowledge management from around the world. Below are the countries and pronunciations of “knowledge management systems” and some helpful articles hyperlinked:

Spain – gestion del conocimiento – Seimens case study
France – système de gestion des connaissances – Lafarge Group case study
Sweden – kunskapshanteringssystemet – A Volvo IT case study
Germany – Wissensmanagement-System – Failure of Knowledge Management Systems in the Financial Services Industry from University of Bamberg
Kenya – maudhui mfumo wa usimamizi (Swahili) – Institutionalization of Knowledge Management in Manufacturing Enterprises from KCA University.