Whether you’re downsizing to save on costs or struggling as employee turnover rates hover over historic highs, the ability to capture, retain, store, and share knowledge in an enterprise is crucial to long-term success and growth. Even if your company can attract and hire the best of the best amid talent shortages, if you don’t have a plan to retain their unique insight and wisdom every minute after, there is a risk of losing it all if they choose to leave.
You also miss sharing that employee’s knowledge with other team members. Outside thinking should regularly be nurtured for creativity and innovation. Managing the wisdom that flows in and out of your organization with knowledge base software, sharing it with staff and customers, and storing it for future reuse enables that level of innovation to become a reality.
This is where Enterprise Knowledge Management comes in.
What Is Enterprise Knowledge Management?
Enterprise Knowledge Management (EKM) is the process of capturing the information and knowledge within an enterprise and using advanced technology to store it in a central location where it can be easily shared and reused by all members. As a result, EKM empowers staff members and enables productivity through the enterprise’s collective intelligence.
Although knowledge resources can vary from enterprise to enterprise for many reasons, they often include:
- Industry news
- Summaries of responses to clients
- Customer insights
- Competitive intelligence
- Workplace process knowledge, etc.
Enterprise Knowledge Management Parameters
There are three critical components of Enterprise Knowledge Management. They are:
1. Knowledge capture
Knowledge capture is a parameter of EKM that allows your enterprise to capture the expertise and insight of every individual in the company. This includes everything from tacit knowledge (an accumulation of knowledge and skills that can only be attained through experience but is often difficult to put into words) to explicit knowledge (more easily documented knowledge, such as processes and procedures). As a result, the knowledge that was once difficult to preserve is now easily accessed and consumed.
2. Knowledge storage
Before digital knowledge management, storing organizational information was only possible in the mind or written on paper (unreliable). Neither offers the convenience or efficiency of storing enterprise knowledge in a platform supported by highly advanced technology. Knowledge stored in a knowledge management system can be found with a simple search. The knowledge is structured, organized, and indexed in a way that allows you to store the entire enterprise’s information without delaying access to specifics (i.e., organizing marketing material in its own category while creating additional types for sales, IT, customers, etc.).
3. Knowledge sharing
Capturing and storing knowledge is essential to success in any industry, but actually making that knowledge accessible to employees can be a major roadblock. In fact, studies found that Fortune 500 companies alone lose as much as $31 billion each year due to failing to share knowledge. Knowledge sharing in an efficient EKM system makes useful content effortless to find with deep indexing of all content types. This way, every employee is empowered by the insight and resources at their fingertips, maximizing the impact of the shared knowledge in your organization.
Procedures to Adopt in Enterprise Knowledge Management
There are many benefits of a knowledge base. To ensure you’re making the most of your experience and maximizing your benefits with an EKM, here are the best practices to adopt.
Create a process for capturing tacit knowledge
There are several ways you can capture new ideas and expertise to add to your knowledge management platform: social interaction, interviewing employees to capture their experiences and stories, email, virtual idea boxes, and more. Create a process to streamline the flow of information going into your EKM system.
Peer assistance refers to getting employees together in a room at the beginning of a project and sourcing them for collective insight and experience. Leaders start the meeting with clearly defined objectives for the project and leave it to the team members to use their skills and experiences to contribute ideas. These ideas should then be documented and preserved in the company’s knowledge base.
Create an online collaborative workspace
Collaboration is crucial to productivity and efficiency; yet, 86% of workers say there is a lack of collaboration in their workplace that contributes to poor communication and project failures. A collaborative space online helps more people draw on and build from collaborative opportunities with other staff members they may not otherwise share knowledge with.
Create a user-friendly taxonomy
You can have the most valuable information stored in your EKM, but if people can’t easily retrieve, it will serve no real purpose in the organization. A user-friendly taxonomy organizes content logically in your system, ensuring a vast amount of information in one place doesn’t deter individuals in different departments from accessing valuable knowledge as soon as needed.
Although this won’t be necessary in every case, many enterprises have moderation requirements, where content can’t be published until a designated moderator has reviewed it. Customers can turn moderation on or off in the platform, and people can be assigned a specific ‘Moderator’ role and get notified when there is content they need to review and approve.
Why Is Enterprise Knowledge Management Important to Your Business?
The importance of EKM shouldn’t be underestimated. Here’s why.
Boost employee confidence in making decisions
Confident employees contribute more positively to your organization. They’re also more productive and motivated. An EKM gives staff members confidence by matching them with the information they need to not only complete typical tasks but leverage expertise and experience from others to do it more efficiently.
Information is quickly accessible
Likewise, when information is quickly accessible, employees can complete tasks faster without sacrificing quality. As much as one day of work a week (or about 20% of business time) is wasted on employees simply searching for information they need to do their jobs. When that time is no longer wasted, it can be better allocated to more important matters.
Reduce the risk of knowledge loss
Although it will vary from place to place and industry to industry, studies show that most companies will experience at least 18% employee turnover every year. Losing the knowledge you’ve gained from that 18% of your workforce could be detrimental to your organization. Reducing that risk with an enterprise knowledge management system ensures that knowledge stays even when the employee doesn’t.
Simplified communication and collaboration
Poor communication and collaboration are major problems for businesses of all sizes. In order to foster a more creative and innovative work environment, it is essential to provide staff with an easy and effective way to share their expertise, skills, and experience with one another. Without these tools for communication and collaboration, your organization may find itself wasting significant amounts of time just trying to figure out who has the right knowledge or experience to move forward with a particular project or task.
New hire training and onboarding
How well you train and onboard new hires will determine how well they assimilate into your team and how long they will be with a company. A new hire empowered with all the information and resources your current team has will be better able to transition into your specific processes and procedures than one who just has to ‘learn as they go.’ As a result, they’ll find more meaning in their work and have a more positive experience with your company.
Overall, the importance of enterprise knowledge management extends well beyond the benefits it can supply your organization right now. It can capture, store, and share all the knowledge of your current employees, and it can also boost employee confidence, make information more accessible, promote collaboration, simplify communication, and enhance new hire training and onboarding. However, and arguably most importantly, it lays out the foundation for your enterprise’s future success by protecting and organizing all of the expertise that comes and goes through your company so that knowledge becomes a sustainable resource.