Modern day economies thrive on knowledge and information, which makes knowledge management one of today’s companies’ most important assets. An effective knowledge management strategy can solve myriad problems in companies and affect many of its day-to-day processes.
A McKinsey Global Institute Report shows that if a knowledge management system is robust, it can reduce the time it takes to find information by up to 35%, as well as raising productivity across an organization by 20-25%.
Definition of knowledge management
The term itself refers to a group’s collective knowledge being organized, captured, and used, as well as the impact of the knowledge being analyzed. When it comes to business, knowledge management can also refer to maintaining an internal wiki or portal where a company keeps specific knowledge that is related to it.
Knowledge management is basically any system that can help people in a company or organization to not only access but share and update (business) information and knowledge.
Knowledge is usually divided into two categories: tacit and explicit.
Tacit knowledge is a type of knowledge that covers what a person knows how to do, but can’t necessarily explain how to do. This knowledge can be skills, experiences, and ideas that aren’t written down anywhere and can’t really be expressed. People usually aren’t aware that they have this knowledge and how valuable it is to others.
Explicit knowledge is also called documented knowledge. It’s the type of information that can easily be expressed and shared, and any information that an organization has documented would be classed as explicit knowledge (like datasheets, research reports, articles, etc.).
Why is knowledge management important?
In any organization, no matter how big or small, knowledge and information is very often undocumented, really hard to find, and often easy to lose.
Employees who have been with a company for a long time and then either quit, retire, or are let go can take huge amounts of knowledge with them, which costs a company a lot of money.
Computer hard drives, external hard drives, and paper records can be lost, damaged, or even destroyed by accident.
Knowledge management is so important because these situations are inevitable.
Beyond this, employees can waste massive amounts of time looking for or even (re)creating knowledge just because knowledge management systems aren’t done right.
Using an effective knowledge management system can:
- Reduce the cost that comes with inefficiency because knowledge becomes readily available, accurate, and accessible.
- Allow remote or distributed teams to access the knowledge they need to.
- Spend less time recreating knowledge that already exists.
- Get information sooner and more easily.
- Make fewer mistakes.
- Standardize processes across the business.
- Help employees make informed decisions.
- Provide customers and employees better service.
- Increase the speed of innovation.
- Increase the speed and effectiveness of onboarding.
How to make knowledge management more effective for your company
In order to be as effective as possible for a company, knowledge management needs to have a few qualities.
- Dynamic – companies aren’t static, so their knowledge management systems shouldn’t be either. The systems should evolve and change regularly and match the company’s growth. The company’s growth should be kept in mind when planning their knowledge management system.
- Current – real-time knowledge is very valuable, and all information should be up-to-date at all times so that business decisions are based on information that’s most accurate. Setting up a content review flow to keep your knowledge up-to-date is the key to ensure engagement for your internal knowledge base.
- Accessible – Knowledge management systems should be easily accessible to all employees as well as easy for them to contribute. Although it should also allow you to set different permissions based on user groups so you can control who can access certain content that might be more sensitive.
- Stored well – there should be a system that shows and categorized knowledge in a single place.
- Support a wide range of integrations – knowledge management systems should work well with existing workplace tools.
- Encourage curiosity – employees should have a safe space to ask and answer questions as well as share knowledge.
- Protect employees’ private data
This might sound like a lot of information, but the right knowledge management tool isn’t difficult to find. Look no further than Kipwise: a knowledge management tool that helps teams build up their company knowledge hub easily. It offers powerful Slack integration, Chrome extension and is integrated with Google Drive, Trello, Airtable and more, so you can save and retrieve team knowledge easily, wherever you need them.
Using its real-time collaborative editor with rich embedding options, your team can edit the same doc at the same time and create visually appealing documentation easily. You can also set designated reviewers for your collections, and Kipwise will remind them to review the content regularly to ensure your knowledge base is always up-to-date and accurate.