Knowledge is one of your organization’s most valuable assets, and effectively managing that information is vital to your company’s long-term success. As a leader, you know investing in a knowledge management initiative will help your business gain a competitive edge, support a healthy and resilient culture, and promote productivity and efficiency.
However, with a recession looming and senior decision-makers tightening their purse strings, it can be difficult to access the budget you need to fund these efforts. That’s why, at a time when everyone is being asked to do (even) more with less, it’s crucial you prove the value of your department’s investments.
We’re covering a few strategies to help you make a case for your knowledge management budget and keep executive buy-in well into the future.
Make a Case for Consolidating Knowledge Management into One Platform
One of the best ways to start building your case is by assessing how your knowledge management initiative can save the company money by eliminating redundancies and reducing complexities.
For example, when you don’t have a centralized knowledge management platform for your organization, each team or department will develop its own methods of collecting, organizing, and sharing information. In some cases, your company may be paying for multiple systems and software products that all solve the same problem.
Not having a universal solution in place also typically means existing knowledge is spread across disparate systems, reinforcing knowledge silos and leading employees to do the same work over and over. For example, a marketing team might spend hours compiling the same report a sales leader created just days before. Without insight into each other’s systems, there’s no way of knowing which resources already exist.
By consolidating all apps, homegrown solutions, and content repositories into one central knowledge management platform, you can help your organization reduce departmental costs and improve collaboration and efficiency. And all of these outcomes serve to increase the ROI of your initiative.
Collaborate with Other Department Leaders
Another method you can use to secure knowledge management budget is to join forces with other department heads and senior managers. Identify other potential champions for knowledge management and discuss how you may be able to pool resources to fund your initiative. For example, customer support, sales, marketing, and product departments typically share many of the same pain points when accessing data and other essential information. And all of these teams would benefit from cross-departmental knowledge sharing.
Start by chatting with fellow leaders about how your knowledge management effort can solve departmental challenges and help them meet team goals. Once you’ve earned their buy-in, you can identify opportunities for sharing costs. Plus, you can approach senior leadership as a united front, giving your budget request more power.
Demonstrate the ROI of Knowledge Management
Senior executives’ decisions always hinge on one critical consideration: how will an investment affect the company’s bottom line? The best way to earn their buy-in and increase your odds of funding a project is to answer this question up front and be as concise and straightforward as possible.
In addition to listing the various benefits of implementing a knowledge management solution, such as eliminating errors and duplicated work, tie outcomes to specific business objectives. For example, share how knowledge management can improve customer service ratings, shorten onboarding time, and reduce employee turnover. It helps if you can use internal data, but if you don’t have concrete metrics from your organization, supplement with public metrics to estimate potential savings.
If you already have a shortlist of knowledge management technology vendors that you’re considering, see if they have any ROI metrics they can share with you. Bloomfire used platform and customer survey data to uncover insights that can be tied to ROI, including:
- Bloomfire customers see an average ROI of 9:1 (that’s $9 savings for every $1 spent on knowledge management)
- 95% of companies using Bloomfire report their content is more frequently used and better understood than before they adopted this KM platform
- 80% of Bloomfire customers report that each team member saves at least an hour per week on average when searching for information
- 93% of customers report that they have decreased their average onboarding time since implementing Bloomfire
Prepare a Formal Business Case
Finally, take all your learnings, ROI projections, plans, and KPIs, and compile them into a compelling business case.
Here are a few ways to ensure your business case is airtight:
Be specific and practical
Outline precisely what you expect the program to achieve and the timeline for results. Be sure to set realistic expectations about what your knowledge management initiative can and cannot do. While you want to persuade senior executives, you also want to ensure you can deliver on your promises.
Provide a detailed plan
How will you implement your initiative? Who will be involved, and what contributions will each individual or team need to make? Describe the steps you’ll be taking to ensure success.
Ask for what you need to yield results
Underfunded knowledge management can be as ineffective as having no knowledge management strategy at all. “Many organizations spin their wheels for years by starving their KM teams of the funding required to implement their strategies at scale,” says Lauren Trees, Principal Research Lead at APQC, in an article for KMWorld. “In these cases, sharing the benchmarks with your leadership team may help jump-start a conversation about the inputs required to achieve the desired outputs.”
We don’t know what the coming months will look like from an economic perspective, but we know lots of companies are already scaling back expenses. It’s a challenging time to ask for more money. However, equipping your workforce with relevant, accurate, and accessible knowledge is arguably more important than ever and will help your organization weather the storm and grow. Using these strategies, you can increase the likelihood of getting the budget you need for your knowledge management initiative.