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What is Knowledge Management?

Knowledge management is the process of gathering, organizing, analyzing, and distributing knowledge across an organization to make information accessible to employees and improve organizational performance. This ITIL process focuses on getting information across to the right people at the right time in the right format to help them complete the tasks they need to do.

You can’t get things done without knowledge. People rely on learned information to know what steps to take, how to perform them and determine if they’ve succeeded in completing the task at hand. Organizations have a wealth of information within reach, it’s a waste to not leverage them for the business’ advantage. And with something new always being discovered in IT, gathering and distributing this knowledge across the enterprise is worthwhile.

What are the Types of Knowledge?

Not all knowledge is the same. They come in varying forms and types. Here are some of the main ones that you may come across through knowledge management. Understanding the different types of knowledge can simplify the organization and maintenance of this information.

1. Tacit

One of the more difficult types of knowledge to teach or transfer is tacit knowledge. This knowledge is built and gathered from practice and personal experience, honing one’s expertise on a topic. How this knowledge is gained would differ from one person to the next and can be difficult to explain in a straightforward way. Examples of this include effective leadership, innovative thinking, and business acumen.

2. Implicit

Sometimes confused with tacit knowledge, implicit knowledge is the ‘know-how’ of a specific scenario and lives within processes and routines. This is when you apply explicit knowledge to a certain situation. Through trial and error, as well as repetition, a person can gain implicit knowledge of how best to complete a task. Similar to tacit knowledge, this can be challenging to document and share with others. Examples of this include project management or incident resolution.

3. Explicit

This is probably the most well-known and straightforward type of knowledge. It’s often recorded in various types of documentation, whether that’s in the form of guides, reports, videos, or FAQs. Capturing this knowledge is crucial for knowledge transfer across the people of your organization.

What is the Knowledge Management Process?

The knowledge management process typically involves four key steps.

1. Gathering

This is the act of pulling together information from different sources and involves data entry, identifying existing knowledge, and scanning for new content.

2. Storage and Categorization

After gathering various pieces of information, organizations determine how they’re stored and categorized.

3. Distribution

The next step is sharing the stored knowledge and ensuring it’s easily accessible to those who need it.

4. Usage

The last step is where the fruits of managing this knowledge are reaped, by applying this acquired knowledge to solve a problem or complete a task.

What are the Benefits of Knowledge Management?

Organizations know they can do more with knowledge. Why? It offers a plethora of benefits for the business and its people. With a good knowledge management strategy, they can make the most of the information they have and become more efficient at growing their knowledge base.

1. Better Accessibility to Information

With an effective knowledge management process, everyone can have easier access to information without jumping through hoops to get there. A self-service knowledge base, for example, enables people to find the information they need. Not only does this empowers them to find solutions to their problems, but also lessens the burden on service desk teams.

2. Provides a Single Source of Truth

Good knowledge management enables you to create a one-stop shop for information. This not only makes it easier for employees to know where to go but minimizes the risk of outdated or duplicated information. Updating the information becomes simpler too as no rummaging around different databases to replace inaccurate content.

3. Saves Time Relearning Known Information

How frustrating is it when you encounter a problem you’ve seen before, but can’t remember how to solve it or can’t find instructions on how to? That’s too often the case when you don’t have a good knowledge management strategy in place. But with one, users can refer back to the knowledge base to see if other people have come across similar issues. This can definitely contribute to more effective problem management and change management.

4. Increases Operational Efficiencies

With time for searching for information in random places cut down, workers can then focus on more high-impact activities and increase operational efficiencies. This gives way to faster decision-making and better task executions, increasing overall productivity for everyone.

5. Reduces Mistakes

Well-cared-for knowledge management means information is continuously audited and updated, thus reducing mistakes caused by wrong or old information. People can easily spot inaccuracies and work together to smooth out various processes, minimizing the chances of making the same mistakes.

Why Knowledge Management isn’t Working for Some Organizations?

Despite these multiple benefits, some organizations seem to struggle with getting to grips with knowledge management. So, what’s going wrong?

1. Information Not Being Updated

Today’s news is tomorrow’s history. Information changes so rapidly that keeping your knowledge base can be a challenge. And when people are dealing with tight deadlines or other urgent tasks, keeping the information fresh and relevant can be deprioritized and left forgotten.

2. Knowledge Ownership Not Clearly Established

Not knowing who has ownership of sharing information and keeping them updated can lead to ineffective knowledge management. People can get confused about whom to follow up with for additional questions or clarification on information they come across.

3. Motivation Waning

Your knowledge management process may have initially been met with enthusiasm, but this alone is not enough to sustain it. A massive cultural change in how you manage information can meet some resistance and it’s so easy for people to revert to the way things are shortly after the excitement cools off.

What are the Best Practices for Knowledge Management?

So, what can organizations do to increase the chance of successful knowledge management?

1. Establish Project Objectives

Knowledge encompasses so much information, tackling it without a focused approach is a futile attempt. It’s important to identify what are your objectives, both short-term and long-term, and from there, plan out the different processes and steps needed to achieve them.

2. Plan Enterprise-wide Rollout

When carrying out a knowledge management plan, it’s important to think holistically. This doesn’t just impact one particular department, but your organization as a whole. How will you get different departments on board? Are they experiencing information gaps, and what are they? How do you communicate your objectives across the board and align goals? These questions won’t answer themselves, so…

3. Involve Employees Early On

Employees can provide valuable insights into these questions and feedback regarding the implementation plans. Additionally, your knowledge management strategy will probably involve reshaping the way people share and exchange knowledge, so helping them through the transition with the right ‘champions’ is paramount.

4. Determine Knowledge Ownership

You can simultaneously motivate employees and direct other users to the right person by establishing knowledge ownership. The knowledge owner can feel recognized for the valuable information they share and motivate them to continue exchanging knowledge. In addition, other users can benefit from knowing whom to get in touch with should they want a better understanding of the information they’ve been provided.

5. Choose the Right Tool to Gather Knowledge in One Place

What technology are your people using? What’s working and what isn’t, and why? Picking the wrong technology can cause your well-thought-out plans to go up in flames. But a good knowledge management process can be made great with the right tool in your arsenal.

Create an Effective Knowledge Management Strategy with IFS assyst

Knowledge is forever evolving, and new information is continuously discovered. So, it’s crucial that your knowledge management process is also fluid. IFS assyst is helping organizations get a better grasp of their knowledge and maximize their business capabilities.

Want to know more? Take a chance to discover how we can assyst your knowledge management process. Contact us today for a chat!

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