At its core, Knowledge Management is about understanding what your organisation knows; as a business discipline it’s the act of consciously implementing processes to organise, analyse and manage enterprise knowledge.
The concept of knowledge management (KM) began to be batted around in the early 1990s, and Davenport’s explanation of “knowledge management is the process of capturing, distributing, and effectively using knowledge" is still widely quoted as its definition. For most businesses, KM will require data-mining efforts to capture knowledge, followed by a push process to distribute this knowledge to users who will benefit from it.
It has some overlap with business intelligence, enterprise content management and analytics, but in focusing on organisational knowledge, KM is its own discrete discipline that is becoming of increasing importance as businesses increase their channels and systems of operation and remote working rises.
When implemented effectively it can transform the way an organisation does business, improving clarity, team relationships, efficiency and even aiding your efforts to improve customer experience.
What is Involved in Knowledge Management?
For many businesses that focus much time and attention on KM, there are three core components: Lessons Learned Databases, Expertise Location, and Communities of Practice (CoPs). Breaking down KM in this way is not essential but can help ensure processes are smooth and efficient.
Lessons Learned Databases
A business’s accumulated knowledge may still never be captured in a concrete form, and valuable expertise and insight can be lost – employing a lessons learned database can rectify this. The idea is to ensure that your organisation learns from its past successes and failures.
Expertise Location is fairly self-explanatory – a tool or practice designed to enable organisations and their people to quickly pinpoint the best source of expertise (usually a person) for the particular question, issue or project with which they are engaged.
Communities of Practice (CoPs)
A community of practice is a team of individuals who meet to share information, best practices, threats, issues and opportunities, and discuss the organisational lessons learned – either in-person or virtually. Since so much of an institution’s knowledge resides within its people, it stands to reason that at least one element of KM should be social in nature.
Who Needs Knowledge Management?
Any business or organisation can benefit from processes to streamline, organise and analyse its collective knowledge. KM can be seen as a tool for the “big boys” only, but if this is the case it’s more down to a reluctance by KM tool vendors to target smaller businesses than an indication that they should need knowledge management any less. Your organisation’s knowledge is a powerful commodity that can add a great deal to your competitive edge.
Knowledge Management Systems
For effective KM, businesses may find that they require a dedicated Knowledge Management System. If you are planning to implement a KM system, you will need to focus on finding or building a system that works with your organisation’s plan for KM and, essentially, is user-friendly and appealing enough that employees are keen to use it.
With your organisation’s accumulation of knowledge and information instantly accessible, employees are able to serve customers far more effectively and efficiently, making it a very worthwhile consideration for those businesses aiming to improve their customer experience. For further information on the ideal tools to boost your CX, download our guide to the CX stack.