The amount of knowledge that is transmitted to and by the typical manager in a mid-to-large-sized business each and every day can be downright overwhelming. Emails, documents, memos, collaborative communications and other forms of information continue streaming in and out at an increasingly rapid rate. The rate of information growth is often so fast, in fact, that managers and senior staff members could never possibly read, retain and keep all the data at their disposal organized. This is why businesses need to have a comprehensive Knowledge Management system in place. Knowledge Management (KM) is basically a set of behaviors, processes and technologies that are designed for managing information more efficiently to improve learning, decision-making, innovation and other keys to business success.
Businesses can enjoy many new advantages when they adopt a strategic KM model that promotes knowledge communities and applications that support knowledge management. Just consider the following top eight benefits of Knowledge Management, and imagine how this kind of system could improve and streamline your business operations:
1. Information and Content Governance
A KM focus is on community outcomes, and the knowledge needed to meet those outcomes. When planned and implemented effectively, Knowledge Management efforts serve to improve information governance and content governance. As a result, organizations can avoid content “sprawl,” in which data grows faster than it can be managed, resulting in disorganized, disconnected, inefficient and sometimes even unusable sources of knowledge (fileshares, SharePoint, databases, etc.).
2. Increased Focus on Outcomes
Successful Knowledge Management efforts are focused on ideal outcomes that help key teams meet critical business objectives. Before implementing a KM system, organizations are encouraged to identify critical objectives based on multiple roles or personas. These typically include individual outcomes, department-level outcomes and corporate outcomes. This enables the organization to place a laser focus on work processes, information management methods and knowledge capture procedures that drive those outcomes.
3. Improvements to Workforce Behaviors
The best Knowledge Management systems do much more than focus on technology solutions as the be-all and end-all; KM systems also focus on improving behavioral changes within the organization. This kind of holistic, comprehensive effort provides infinite opportunities to improve people’s collaborations with one another, and to improve their interactions with work-related documents and information.
4. Putting Business Needs First
The needs of the business are always the first focus of a strategic Knowledge Management system. When implementing a new KM system, the needs and goals of the community of users are the first to be identified. This leaves the business free to figure out which technology-enabling solutions will support those needs and goals, rather than allowing the technology solutions to determine the outcomes.
5. More Explicit Knowledge
Much knowledge within an organization implied or tacit knowledge, essentially what people know rather than what is searchable or resusablewhich is not always easy for users to grasp or make use of in an efficient and consistent way. With an effective KM model in place, organizations are better prepared to capture critical project, team and departmental knowledge through more explicit mediums such as success stories and user stories. This shift from implicit to explicit knowledge ultimately makes key data resources more discoverable and reusable.
6. Specified Team Roles
Knowledge Management efforts also typically encourage more specific types of roles for key teams, which ultimately serves to advance knowledge management. These include such critical roles as Knowledge Manager, Community or Team Administrator, Power Users and others. When everyone knows what their role is within the organization and its Knowledge Management system, they can focus more keenly on their tasks and responsibilities with efficient access to the information they need to be successful.
7. Top-Down Support Structures
Knowledge Management efforts not only encourage top-down support, but this kind of support is absolutely necessary to make the Knowledge Management system work. With a top-down support structure, managers at all levels lead by example, participate in various Knowledge Management communities and strive to keep teams organized in such a way that best meets the business’ ideal outcomes.
8. Optimized Technology Investments
Last but not least, your organization can look forward to optimized technology investments after implementing a comprehensive KM strategy. Knowledge Management efforts optimize investments in technology by avoiding the old adage that “technology is the solution.” This kind of attitude only serves to allow technology to determine business outcomes. In a more efficient system, technology resources will be configured as tools to enable the business to meet its very specific set of outcomes, rather than determining them altogether.