Most companies now understand the value of having reliable knowledge management (KM) software that captures and organizes insights and information. Many don’t realize that there are often better ways to optimize your KM by implementing only the latest and most up-to-date practices into your strategy.
This is where knowledge management best practices can help.
Knowing the most effective and efficient ways to leverage a knowledge management framework in your business ensures you always use your organization’s collective knowledge to its maximum advantage. Here are six knowledge management best practices to get you started.
1. Align Your Company’s Organizational Culture and KM Strategy
Your organizational culture is an important component of how your business operates—and so is your KM strategy. When the two are aligned, your knowledge management is significantly more valuable.
Start by assessing employee skills, existing areas of expertise, and how they regularly communicate and collaborate with others throughout the organization. Define ownership of specific knowledge management strategies early, mapping out each role and communicating with key players to ensure they understand their responsibilities, how to use your KM system, and what overarching organizational goals are at play.
Afterwards, you can support seamless integration into your culture by encouraging knowledge-sharing. Here are a few ideas to help you get started:
- Create a space that supports knowledge sharing (this can be physical spaces for brainstorming and collaboration if you’re in an office, or virtual tools that bring people together to share knowledge if you’re working remotely).
- Offer knowledge-sharing incentives such as shoutouts in company meetings, tangible prizes, performance reviews, and clearly defined professional development opportunities..
- Update your training and onboarding to help transition new hires into your company culture with knowledge-sharing practices like mentorships, job shadowing, and asking new hires for their input.
2. Set Clear Objectives and Goals
You are 42% more likely to achieve your goals if you write them down because it organizes your entire strategy or plan and gets everybody involved on the same page. In knowledge management, defined goals also ensure you’re creating and sharing the information your teams need to be successful.
Begin the process by asking yourself:
- What are your objectives and goals? There are a host of different goals a company can have with its KM software. Two of the biggest categories depend on your audience—i.e., external KM goals are specific to customer solutions, while internal KM goals are specific to employee needs. Goals can also vary within each major category. Externally, you have different buyer journey stages. Internally, you have employees with different responsibilities and varying degrees of expertise.
- Why does KM matter? Consider what KM has to offer you and your team specifically. Benefits of a knowledge base include improved productivity, reduced training time, increased employee engagement, knowledge preservation, consistent communication, empowered remote work, better collaboration, and more. What does that mean to your business? How can it help?
- What needs to shift to make it happen (if you’re implementing a KM strategy for the first time)? Consider the shift in practices and processes your staff will need to implement a KM strategy into their day-to-day work life. Look for ways to make it as easy and efficient as possible by assessing how you can improve their experience (i.e., training, accessible resources, open communication, etc.).
- Why are you doing this as an org? Consider why it’s essential for your entire organization to retain collective knowledge and insight within the company. This should tie back to specific business goals.
3. Make Knowledge Sharing Easier
Knowledge sharing (KS) is an integral part of knowledge management. After all, what’s the point of gathering all of this incredible talent and information within the company if you’re not sharing it with other team members? In fact, employees prefer when you do, with at least 63% saying they prefer working for organizations that preserve unique knowledge.
Here are some helpful tips for making it as easy as possible for employees to document and share their knowledge:
- Reuse/repurpose content team members already created to avoid making them answer questions they’ve answered several times
- Make templates available for common content types
- Allow employees to document their knowledge in the format that makes the most sense to them (e.g., recording a screen share video rather than writing a step-by-step text document)
4. Conduct Regular Knowledge Audits
Regular knowledge audits are a common knowledge management practice to map out the knowledge available across your organization, where it is stored, how it is used, what is current or needs to be updated, and what is missing. Knowledge audits are also a structured way to assess gaps and optimize knowledge assets to make them as valuable as possible to the organization.
Although specific steps can vary from company to company, you’ll want to make sure you’re covering these five areas:
- Set your objectives—includes developing your KM strategy, identifying your wants and needs in a KM platform, and determining where to focus your efforts.
- Build your audit team—these are the cross-functional team members who will be responsible for carrying out your knowledge audit and any next steps.
- Create an inventory of the organizational knowledge that already exists—examine all types of existing knowledge (i.e., explicit, tacit, and implicit) from different sources like surveys, questionnaires, shared drives, your company intranet, and more.
- Review how knowledge is being transferred—determine how your employees currently access information, share information with each other, and who is sharing knowledge.
- Identify challenges and knowledge gaps—beyond the obvious gaps that will emerge, identify duplication issues, organize similar knowledge assets that are located in different places, and make siloed knowledge more accessible (does anyone have knowledge that others don’t have access to?).
5. Designate a Knowledge Management Champion
A knowledge management champion is a person within an organization who acts as a leader in developing, implementing, and maintaining effective knowledge management practices. A knowledge management champion will typically have the necessary skills, experience, and visibility to drive buy-in for a knowledge management project. They should also understand how to identify, capture, and store information in a way that is easily accessible to all.
Here are just a few ways knowledge champions can get involved:
- Communicating goals to team members
- Participating in the launch of a new KM platform
- Staying active on the platform, beginning with the first post welcoming staff to the platform and detailing the objectives
6. Implement Knowledge Management Tools
Knowledge management techniques include incorporating tools and technologies that enable organizations to create efficiencies in knowledge-sharing environments and achieve integration into knowledge-based organizational structures. Knowledge bases can easily manage any company’s information if pursued in the following manner.
A knowledge base is a library of expert-created content organized and stored within an online database for employees to access and share throughout the organization. Its core functions vary by product , but industry leaders like Bloomfire promote features such as:
- AI-powered search (the ability to index and search across a wide range of file types, including words spoken in videos
- Q&A engine (a component of the knowledge base that lets team members publish questions, crowdsource answers, and make everything searchable)
- Fully configurable homepage (admins can use drag-and-drop widgets to control exactly what appears on their homepage without any coding) and content feeds
As the saying goes, an abundance of information can make it difficult to find the right information at the right time. With access to reliable software and knowledge management best practices, that won’t be a problem for you and your team.