Knowledge Management can play a vital role in your business as it improves your organization’s efficiency and keeps knowledge in your business. It also relates to the learning and training that takes place in organizations or involves customers.
Its makeup includes various components such as creation, sharing, structuring as well as auditing knowledge. Such aspects are crucial if you want to make the most of your organization’s collective knowledge.
Knowledge within a business is something that is often taken for granted and not realised by the value it adds and its major role in its success.
Definition of knowledge management: The process of managing knowledge and information within a business by documenting, utilising, and sharing knowledge and experience of employees.
This is a continuous process of improvement.
Knowledge management is about harnessing the knowledge that exists, intellectual assets within a company, that enables it to perform everyday processes, procedures.
Transferring, sharing knowledge to the person that needs it at the correct time.
Think about knowledge like a water supply or electricity supply: when someone needs it, they just plug into the power or turn on the tap and its there. Knowledge needs to be managed and documented so it's always available to everyone in the team.
There are three types of knowledge that you need to understand so you can develop a knowledge sharing and knowledge management strategy for your business. All business knowledge and skills are valuable to business.
Understanding the different types of knowledge
Explicit Knowledge: Knowledge is easy to document and write down so can be easily shared.
Example: Data is processed, organised, documented, structured, then analysed, and stored the result is explicit knowledge. Company data, research, are all examples of business explicit knowledge.
Implicit Knowledge: Skills that can be taught so easily transferable between jobs.
Example: How to best perform a task? Can be decided through conversation, ideas, suggestions, team considering a range of solutions and options to the best way to complete a task or a process. It is a team thought process to come up with the best course of action moving forward.
Tacit Knowledge: Knowledge that has been gained over time like skills, ideas and from experience that can be more difficult to document.
As tacit knowledge is developed through experience and can be hard to document to make it easily shared.
Example: After many years of experience you know that a certain step is not needed or best performed in a different way. Think of DIY and learning how to hammer a nail, although the process of learning is explicit knowledge, the experience of knowing the issues that many arise, the best nails to use or the perfect hammer for the job will enable you to perform with speed and confidence which is tacit knowledge.
Documenting Knowledge can be difficult as different members of the team will carry out business processes in different ways but not always the best way. This can offer a great opportunity to gain insight and agree on best practices.
Key Knowledge Management Process Steps:
Identifying Knowledge: People who hold key information on how elements within the business work and business processes that are core to business operations. All this knowledge is critical for business strategy and operations.
Acquisition and Capturing Knowledge: Collecting knowledge to share with everyone.
Knowledge capture is the process where you need to convert tacit to explicit knowledge.
People are not always aware of what knowledge they hold that benefits the business.
Evaluating, Reviewing and Documenting: Evaluate knowledge relevance, accuracy, and applicability processes.
Organise your knowledge repository and decide how this information will be documented.
Identifies your main business processes, procedures, policies and who has the most knowledge of how that process runs.
Business process mapping can help include main processes and sub-processes. When documenting processes remember to include relevant policies, procedures, best practices, compliance information, tools and relevant training information.
Storage and Retrieving: Decide on the best way that everyone can get easy access to this critical information.
Distribution, Use and Easy Sharing: Documented knowledge and processes must be simple and easy to use. user focused information.
This information should be a single source of truth within the business so must be easily accessed.
Evolving New Knowledge: New knowledge is always is being discovered, every day, continuously developing all the time so you need to harness and document and share.
Maintaining and Analysis: It is an ever evolving cycle, additional knowledge needs to be added, processes need to be changed and amended.
Analysing how everything is working or not!
The benefits of knowledge management and retaining knowledge within a business.
Bus factor: All businesses need to be prepared for the bus factor. Sounds a bit morbid but what would happen if a critical person working in the business is hit by a bus? How will affect business?
Single Source of Truth: Guide or how-to manual for the business so everyone can refer to the same information which is collated from a vast amount of knowledge.
A training manual that can be passed on quickly can help new teams members to hit the ground running as they have a guide to refer to as a single source of truth. Knowing the best way to do something has already been identified and guiding them through the process.
Utilise Knowledge: Knowledge can help solve problems faster, learn from mistakes and make more informed decisions based of previous knowledge gained.
Improve productivity and reduce mistakes:
Increase productivity as the knowledge needed to document the best practices is within the team but not shared with everyone.
Mistakes have already been learnt from so make sure no one does it again.
Retained Knowledge: Another benefit of this approach is that knowledge stays within a company and when someone leaves, they don’t take their knowledge with them. Knowledge adds value to the business.
Improve Processes: Identify bottlenecks in workflows, allocate the best team member for each scenario, reroute workflows, allocate more resources and measure inputs and outputs.
The dissemination of information is much easier if you have a process and a platform that meets a range of different needs. There are many to choose from.
Document your processes with built in step by step guide along with reference and relevant information.
Manage processes, tasks, workflow, procedures and best practices.
With this system, you need a centralized filing location where you will store your company documents. When documents are stored correctly, you’ll be able to retrieve what you need quickly and easily. It is often a requirement for regulatory compliance, and it will enhance your workflow. Backup procedures and passwords will improve the security of the storage system.
This is a computer application that you would use to help you implement the management of your knowledge. To make the information more accessible, it is usually indexed. This is a very secure system but can be expensive to design and then set up. For people to use and maintain this type of system, they have to be highly skilled.
This is very similar to a document management system, but you would use it to store video, audio, other media, and documents.
This term is used for a computer network that provides easily accessible information for people within an enterprise. There is, however, a risk that an unauthorized person would be able to access the system.
This is a system that pulls data from different parts of an organization. It is very effective when it comes to making reports and analyzing data. Stored on the system would be current and historical data, and it would have the ability to transform the data into information that was meaningful to people using it. The downside with this type of system is that it’s high maintenance and requires complex integration.
This is a good way you can influence the knowledge within your organization. People will contribute information, join groups, connect, and discuss any issues they might be interested in.
Wikis are web pages that are easy to use. Anyone can use them to publish or store information. The information is stored centrally and is an excellent location for product catalogues and business documents. The only downside is that anyone can edit the pages, and the information can often be wrong.
Documented knowledge is a huge asset to a business as many Institutions of Knowledge have realised over the year gone by.
Here at Checkify, we enable companies to document processes as essential guides to guarantee every task is performed in the best way possible.
Help you retain knowledge, share knowledge, document knowledge and analysis and continuously improve your business processes.
Every end-user especially new people or people covering a job temporarily doesn’t need to fully understand why or how all the stuff works but they need to understand that it is the best way to complete that task or process. Making it easy to get the crucial knowledge in a simple and easy way.
Making it easy for everyone to add their feedback or ideas on how it could be improved is so important. The person using a process the most can offer so much knowledge on how to improve that process without even realising it.
The key to using knowledge to help businesses thrive is that knowledge is easy to find.