It’s estimated that organizations spend anywhere from 3 percent to 7 percent of their revenue on technology. If technology is not implemented correctly or if you don’t adequately prepare your employees for change, it can be a huge drain on your company. It can cost you millions of dollars as a direct result of loss of productivity, and that’s not to mention the technology spend itself. If the expensive new toy that your employees need sits unused, nothing will change; employees will still complain that they don’t have the tools necessary to be successful.
The truth is that this happens more than you might realize, and knowledge management platforms are no exception. Organizations invest in knowledge management platforms so that employees, whether it’s across an entire organization or within departments, can find and share the information they need to do their jobs. Successfully implementing a knowledge management solution requires a great deal of preparation, patience, and a willingness to learn.
That’s why we’ve put together 11 tips to help you implement your knowledge management platform. Before you know it, your employees will be sharing and collaborating like you’ve never seen before.
1. Define Your Goals and Objectives
The first step with any technology implementation is to define your goals and objectives. While this might seem obvious, this is probably one of the biggest reasons why implementations fail. When you define your goals and objectives, you need to take into consideration each group who will be affected. Meet with each of the department heads and other company leaders to discuss and clearly define the goals and objectives for your knowledge management solution.
2. Identify and Articulate Your Motives
Second to defining your goals and objectives is transparency. Once your goals and objectives are established, communicate this information back to the team so no one is left in the dark. Everyone should understand the purpose of the change and how it can benefit them.
Don’t be afraid to address some of the knowledge management problems your organization faces right off the bat. Explain the productivity and monetary losses that happen when your customer success team can’t find the information they need to service customer requests, when your sales team takes too long to onboard new reps, and what happens when marketing notices a lack of consistent branding.
3. Develop a Change Management Strategy
Even though you’ve established your goals and objectives, it’s imperative to understand that change doesn’t happen overnight. This is why it’s important to recognize and develop a strategy and tactics for continuous change management.
We recommend providing updates on engagement metrics and other KPIs during department or company meetings. And don’t stop after your implementation– make sure and keep the platform top of mind post-launch by mentioning it frequently and reminding others of the benefits. These not-so-subtle hints will make the transition more comfortable for your employees and can have a huge impact on their overall engagement and success of the program.
4. Identify and Recruit Internal Champions
Employees will most likely use your knowledge management platform if they see their peers having success with it. This is why it’s important to identify one or multiple members of your organization to be your internal champions. These individuals are driven, upbeat, and eager to drive organizational change. Your internal champions will play an important role in generating excitement around the launch of your knowledge management platform and also have a role in the soft launch (we will discuss this more in a little bit).
5. Inventory and Organize Your Knowledge Assets
Even if your knowledge management platform has AI-driven search, establishing a knowledge hierarchy can help new users browse and discover new content and can aid in curation down the road. Take the time and really think about a knowledge structure that makes sense for your organization. Gather feedback from team leaders and then work with your knowledge management platform provider to learn how other customers have structured their information and why it works for them.
6. Hold a Soft Launch
The best way to work through all of the potential kinks in your knowledge structure is to gather the internal champions you previously identified and hold a soft launch. Start off your soft launch with a quick training surrounding best practices on how to use the platform. This is also a good time to reiterate the goals and objectives. It’s recommended you let your internal champions use the platform for about two weeks as a test period.
7. Listen and Be Proactive to Feedback
After the soft launch period is over, meet with your internal champions and gather as much feedback as possible. Ask them to relay the good, the bad, and the ugly. Remember, these individuals will most likely be using the platform on a daily basis, and all feedback is warranted.
Strategize ways to fix the issues that might have come up during the soft launch, to ensure a successful rollout to the rest of the company. When everything is all said and done, thank your internal champions for the participation of your soft launch with a gift or lunch to show your appreciation.
8. Link Knowledge to Your Employees
When an employee has a question, there is often a chain of people they have to go through to find the knowledge expert. To reduce the amount of time it takes your employees to find the knowledge expert, consider setting up a knowledge directory as a bookmarked post within your platform. This directory identifies your subject matter experts (SMEs) in various areas, saving your employees time when it comes to searching for the knowledge they need to do their jobs.
9. Leadership Involvement
Right from the get-go, your organization’s executive team should play a visible role in your knowledge management platform launch effort. Your leadership team should articulate the goals and objectives, play a role in the soft launch, and be active on the platform. Consider having your executive make the first post in your platform, welcoming everyone and outlining the goals. We’ve even had customers’ executives post selfie videos, which is a sure-fire way to drive engagement.
Active participation from the leadership team will show how serious they are about creating change, and this will be a direct reflection of how seriously your employees will take this change.
10. Conduct a Contest
Who doesn’t love a little friendly competition? To get your team excited about the new knowledge management platform, hold a contest to help get your employees to really dive in and get the lay of the land. The prize? Lunch with leadership, a cool new tech gadget, paid time off, or whatever is appropriate for your organization.
11. Continuous Training
Don’t let the hype of your new knowledge management platform die. Hold regular training meetings for your employees so they can stay on top best practices, as well as any important product updates or changes. This is one of the best ways to keep employees engaged and sharing company knowledge effectively.
Change in the workplace, no matter if it’s big or small, is never easy. However, if you follow these steps when implementing your knowledge management solution, the investment you made will pay off. Happy knowledge sharing!
This post was originally published on May 13, 2015, and has been refurbished to reflect current best practices.