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Adhering to a set of knowledge management best practices is essential to maintaining an efficient and cost-effective business strategy, but many enterprises fail to implement these practices into their day-to-day operations. Knowledge management is basically a set of practices, policies, tools and technologies that are designed to capture, disseminate, enhance and structure the knowledge within a business or any other type of organization. In order to manage knowledge effectively, an organization must maintain a set of best practices to ensure the right people have access to the right information at the right time at an appropriate cost level. Relevant and accurate knowledge – both explicit and implicit – must be organized, structured and disseminated in a straightforward and timely manner through an effective and accessible system. The ultimate goal is to improve decision-making processes without raising costs or reducing efficiency. And this can only be achieved with a strategic set of best practices, designed for the unique needs and goals of your organization.

Developing a Set of Best Practices that Work for You

Developing a tailored set of knowledge management best practices is the first step to improving the efficiency and cost effectiveness of your organization. Many of the most successful companies work with experienced business consultants in this stage, in order to ensure the most appropriate course of action based on the leading practices of their particular industry. Your organization’s best practices should be designed with a specific corporate culture and leadership structure in mind. With that framework in place, processes and technologies can be implemented to support this structure, ensuring a set of best practices that work for you.

The Five Fundamentals of Knowledge Management

While there are many different methods of structuring your knowledge management systems, experts agree that it is essential to maintain the five fundamentals of strategy, culture, leadership, processes and technology.

Management Strategy – Your organization’s knowledge management strategy should include a prioritized set of goals, with metrics for achieving and measuring those goals that encourage participation across the enterprise, and that align with other business strategies already being maintained. This should include an assessment of what knowledge is needed, what is already available and how to fill the gap.

Corporate Culture – Every organization is different, which is why the culture of your company and the types of goals you are striving for must be considered when developing your knowledge management best practices. This means developing a set of terms, policies and practices that work for your group, including a title for the new program, training programs to ensure adoption, incentives for adopting the program and assessments of participation in the program.

Knowledge Leadership – Since strong leadership is so fundamental to effective knowledge management, it’s important to elect a senior leader at the top to maintain these knowledge management best practices. While it isn’t always necessarily to make this a permanent position, it is essential during the initial planning stages when implementing new knowledge management strategies. The leaders who help put this system in place will truly determine the effectiveness of the new program over the long haul.

Set of Processes – With the right strategies, culture and leadership in place, it is then possible to create a set of processes to make it all happen. These processes should be comprehensive, specific to the needs of the organization and its industry and consistent across all levels. If your organization is adding new content or cycling out old content, it’s important to create processes to do so without affecting the quality and accuracy of information. It’s also important to ensure a consistent system for accessing and distributing information quickly, easily and with tools that tech experts and novices alike can learn without too much downtime.

Technology Tools – Some organizations make the mistake of focusing on the technology of a new knowledge management system first, but this approach is actually quite backwards. Only with the strategies, culture, leadership and processes in place can you effectively implement your new technology tools throughout the organization. Some existing technologies may still be relevant, some may just need to be updated and others may need to be replaced altogether. The new system may include a centralized Customer Relationship Management system, marketing tools, intranet and/or extranet tools, product development tools and more.