5 Common Knowledge Management Challenges (and Their Solutions)

Victoria Fiorini
4 mins
two coworkers looking at tablet and discussing the challenges of knowledge management

Implementing a knowledge management system is both challenging and rewarding. This type of system allows you to preserve the knowledge of every employee and make it accessible to the other workers in your organization. With that information, employees have a one-stop shop where they can learn best practices, access training materials, and figure out how to troubleshoot common issues.

Sounds great, right?

It’s clear that adopting a knowledge management system offers significant benefits—but there are several obstacles you may face along the way. Fortunately, you can reduce the impact of those hurdles with the right platform and adoption strategy. Below, we outline some of the most common challenges of knowledge management implementation and what you can do to overcome them.

Getting Employee Buy In

Employees are notoriously resistant to change. According to one often-cited McKinsey statistic, 70% of change programs fail  to succeed due, in large part, to employee resistance. As technology advances and companies implement new systems, employees can become overwhelmed and prefer to do things “the old way.”

Plus, habits, in general, are difficult to change. Once employees have a particular way of completing their work, they often don’t want to veer from that process.

Solution:

Research reveals that employees often resist change because they lack awareness of the reason for the change. Prior to and during the implementation of a knowledge management system, it is essential for organizational leaders to build a culture of engagement and knowledge sharing. Employees must understand the benefits of a knowledge management system to fully embrace it. 

Getting Senior Leadership Buy In

A culture of knowledge engagement starts from the top down. However, senior leaders can also be slow to adopt new technology, as it doesn’t always directly fit into their day-to-day responsibilities. Executives tend to focus on big-picture strategy items and may assume that knowledge management doesn’t apply to their roles. And when employees notice that leaders and managers aren’t using the technology, they may follow suit, slowing the overall technology adoption.

Solution:  

To convey the importance of knowledge management—and reduce employee hesitancy—senior leaders should publicly demonstrate their usage of the knowledge management system. Often, it’s most effective to work with a champion on the senior leadership team who is specifically tasked with speaking about the value of knowledge management and conveying the importance of adopting the new system.

Technology Fatigue

As technology advances and employees are constantly asked to learn new systems, they can experience technology fatigue. Many employees find it difficult to focus on their job duties—and complete them efficiently—when they’re continually being asked to update current technology and adopt new tools.

To add to this, employees can be skeptical about using new knowledge management technology if they’ve seen digital transformation efforts fail in the past. After all, why invest time and effort into learning new tools if the company will eventually revert back to the original processes?

Solution:   

Overcoming technology fatigue requires clear communication and a change management strategy. Employees must understand why the company is implementing new technology, why it’s beneficial, and why it will work in the long term. It’s particularly helpful to implement an easy-to-use knowledge management platform, as it will require fewer IT resources and updates, and take less time to learn. 

Making Sure People Can Find the Knowledge They Need

Further into the implementation of your new knowledge management technology, you may face a new challenge: navigating the ever-growing wealth of knowledge within your platform. By design, you want to accumulate that knowledge; however, the more content that’s stored in your platform, the more challenging it can become for employees to quickly find the information they need.

And it’s even worse if your platform uses a folder-based system, like Google Drive or SharePoint. If your workers don’t understand the organizational taxonomy, they will likely struggle to access the right information—and may even end up finding and using outdated resources.

Solution:

To enable knowledge sharing for the long term, your platform must be able to accommodate a vast amount of knowledge. Your platform should be equipped with a powerful search engine that indexes every word in every file—even those spoken within audio and video files.

It’s also helpful to give users multiple routes to find a particular resource. For example, employees may choose to look for information via a keyword search or by using category filters to narrow down the available results until they find what they need. 

Keeping Knowledge Up to Date

One of the most important aspects of maintaining a knowledge management system is ensuring that the information within it is up to date. If time-sensitive content isn’t regularly updated or archived, employees may end up accessing and using outdated resources. And this can be especially harmful if employees share that inaccurate knowledge with customers. Once that happens, employees may lose trust in the system and become hesitant to use it on a regular basis.

Solution

Employees must feel confident that the information within the knowledge management platform is accurate and up to date. To do this, companies should look for knowledge management solutions that allow content to be flagged for review and imported/exported in bulk. It can also be valuable to have a tool that allows content publishers to indicate when time-sensitive content will expire so that they can be notified on this date. This makes it easier to keep content up to date and make sure that employees have access to the right resources. 

Change can be hard—but when it comes to implementing a knowledge management platform, the benefits outweigh the challenges. By choosing the right platform and clearly communicating its benefits, you can successfully preserve organizational knowledge and equip your employees for success.

March 16, 2022

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