You’ve got big plans to update your company’s knowledge sharing strategy using technology that will save time and increase your ROI. But your leadership team doesn’t want to make a substantial investment in a new knowledge management platform based on your gut feeling that it will pay off—they want to see evidence.
To make the business case to invest in a new knowledge management platform, you’ll need to start by evaluating your current knowledge sharing efforts to determine their success. Typical knowledge sharing metrics include usage rate of your current technology, ratings of how easy or difficult it is for employees to find the information they need, and overall time spent looking for information.
After you implement a new knowledge management platform, you’ll need to evaluate its success by looking at buy-in, engagement, and performance.
But how on earth do you measure something as intangible as the exchange of knowledge?
The idea of measuring the ROI of knowledge management and knowledge sharing success can seem daunting, but there are concrete metrics you can use to determine how your knowledge sharing strategy is affecting business results. Let’s look at knowledge sharing metrics to track before and after you implement a new knowledge management platform.
Adoption of Your Current Knowledge Sharing System
Before you start evaluating your knowledge sharing efforts as a whole, take note of the current technology you are using to share knowledge internally. This is likely some combination of file sharing, chat, intranet, or maybe even a knowledge management platform.
The most important thing to consider is whether employees are using your current technology to find the information they need. If employees aren’t using the system to the extent that you anticipated, it’s a sign that the system isn’t meeting their needs.
One of the most straightforward metrics you can use to gauge employee buy-in is adoption rate. In other words, what percent of employees are using your technology to enhance their work? Look at the adoption rates for every component of your technology being used to share knowledge, from chat systems like Slack to file sharing platforms like Google Drive.
You can also measure buy-in by conducting employee surveys or interviews. While you may want to ask several open-ended questions to get qualitative feedback, you can also collect quantitative data by having employees rate a series of statements on a 1 to 5 scale. Statements might include:
- I can find the information I need to do my job.
- I feel comfortable sharing knowledge with my colleagues.
- I understand how knowledge sharing can benefit my work.
If the results of your interviews or survey show that employees are uncomfortable using your current technology or feel that your system makes it difficult to find the information they need, it’s time to think about upgrading to a modern knowledge management platform.
Engagement Metrics for Your New Platform
Identifying the gaps in your company’s knowledge sharing efforts will help you make a strong case for adopting a new knowledge management platform. But even after you have buy-in from the C-suite, your metric-tracking adventures are far from over. You still need to use cold, hard data to show the value your platform is adding to your organization.
Start by looking at how team members are engaging with the new platform. Are they using it regularly? What content is most useful to them? Find out how much employees are engaging with the platform—and what they’re engaging with—by looking at metrics such as:
How many platform users have clicked on a specific post? Which pieces of content are getting the most views? And which are getting the fewest? Looking at the content with the greatest and fewest views can help you understand what knowledge is most in demand in your organization and what knowledge is used less frequently or needs to be updated to better meet employees’ needs.
If your knowledge management platform has a social component, which posts are getting the most likes? This will give you a better understanding of content popularity.
What pieces of content are getting the most shares? This could be an indication of the content pieces that employees think will be most useful to their colleagues.
What posts are getting the most comments? And which employees are doing the most commenting?
Number of new posts
How many new posts are employees uploading to your knowledge management platform on a weekly or monthly basis? (While post frequency can be a useful metric for measuring engagement, it’s also important to think of content quality—you shouldn’t be uploading huge volumes of low-quality or repetitive content just to increase the number of posts in your database.)
Don’t just measure engagement in your knowledge management platform once and call it a day. Engagement is dynamic and can change significantly over time (for instance, a team that is adding a lot of content in a newly launched platform may become less active after the first three months once a critical mass of knowledge has been added).
Check your engagement metrics at regular intervals to see a.) which content is getting the most interaction from users and b.) how users are choosing to interact with the content. If you observe that usage is dropping off, investigate the reasons why (this could be another good opportunity for an employee survey) and make the changes necessary to drive continued engagement.
Performance Metrics for Your New Platform
In addition to showing that employees are engaging with your knowledge sharing platform, you should also show that the platform is making positive changes to your company’s processes.
Because knowledge management platforms and user behaviors are complex, performance can be challenging to measure. The best way to measure business results from a knowledge management platform is to look at “before” and “after” metrics.
Before implementing a new knowledge management platform, set goals and get baseline measurements of the metrics that align with those goals. Look at the same metrics again after your knowledge management platform has been active for a predefined amount of time to see what has changed.
For example, let’s say that you set a goal to reduce your average employee onboarding time by one week. Before implementing a knowledge management platform, you record an average onboarding time of twelve weeks. Three months after launching the system, your average onboarding time is down to ten weeks, meaning you’ve exceeded your initial goal.
The performance metrics you choose to track will depend on your organization and the functions you want your knowledge management platform to fulfill. For instance, you might look at the “before” and “after” results for:
- Employee time spent searching for information to perform their job
- Employee time spent on repetitive tasks
- Average time for support team to resolve a customer issue
- Ratings on customer satisfaction surveys (when the knowledge management platform is used for customer support)
- Time spent on new hire training
If you’re a knowledge manager tasked with proving the value of a new knowledge sharing platform, performance metrics will be your best friends. You can use them to help prove the ROI of the platform—and get buy-in from the C-suite when it comes time to expand the system across the organization.
Tracking Metrics for Long-Term Knowledge Sharing Success
Once you’ve determined which knowledge sharing metrics are most important to your business, you should set up a system to continuously track them. Checking in on these metrics at regular intervals will help you answer the following questions:
Is the knowledge management platform continuing to deliver value to the organization?
What’s working well?
Where is there room for improvement?
Use the answers to these questions to keep optimizing your knowledge sharing strategy, and your organization will continue to see the benefits of the platform you’ve put in place.
This blog post was originally published in May 2018. It was updated and expanded in February 2022.