Every day, your organization is building valuable knowledge and experience. But how well are you capturing and sharing it? As your knowledge and information continues to grow, so does the importance of developing a knowledge sharing strategy. The first step as you begin to execute your strategy is to take inventory of how knowledge is used and stored. A knowledge audit is an incredibly valuable exercise for a number of reasons. Not only will you compile a thorough list of the information your company is storing, but you will be able to better evaluate the “health” of your organization’s knowledge bank.
What Is a Knowledge Audit?
A knowledge audit is the first step in any shift in a knowledge sharing initiative. It requires investigating the information you have and the way you are storing and maintaining that information.
There is often confusion over the difference between a content audit and a knowledge audit. While a content audit is focused on the content your company has created, giving an overview of what exists and what doesn’t, it doesn’t provide context into how content is used. A knowledge audit, however, looks into the strengths and weaknesses of the information and what it is used for. It answers the following questions:
- What are your organization’s knowledge needs?
- What resources does your company have, and how are they managed/stored?
- What are the gaps in your company knowledge?
- How is company information shared throughout your organization?
- What is preventing knowledge from being shared across your company?
Once you start asking these questions, more will pop up — and as you put the pieces together, you’ll start to get a much clearer picture of your current knowledge structure. But then what?
The Benefits of a Knowledge Audit
After you’ve answered all of the above questions, and the inquiries that are sure to follow, use your results to evaluate your current processes and establish new systems that will tackle any shortcomings you found in your knowledge audit.
The benefits of a completed knowledge audit will vary by organization, but the overall results tend to remain fairly constant for everyone.
Understanding if knowledge is effectively managed and used can help you identify what information is needed to support your goals and where improvements should happen. You may, for example, find pockets of untapped knowledge or gaps in information, and you can use these insights to determine where to focus your group’s efforts. A knowledge audit will also help you determine how knowledge flows and is used by your team, allowing you to develop better processes around the sharing of information.
With an in-depth map of your knowledge and communication patterns, you will be able to identify the information and processes you need to develop an effective knowledge sharing strategy and implement initiatives that are directly relevant to your team’s specific knowledge needs.