Establishing and following knowledge management best practices can help enhance and streamline how information is captured, created, stored, organized, verified, secured, distributed, and used within your business. These best practices help build trust in your knowledge management process’ value when it comes to driving beneficial decision-making, collaboration, innovation, communication, and efficiency.
These six best practices can set a strong foundation for knowledge management success:
1. Examine your company’s culture and align your strategy for success.
Take a close look at the people across your organization who will be essential to implementing and maintaining your knowledge management processes. Assess their skills, existing areas of expertise, and how they regularly communicate and collaborate with others throughout the organization. Define ownership of specific knowledge management strategies early, mapping out each role and communicating with key players to ensure they understand their responsibilities, how to use your KM system, and what overarching organizational goals are at play.
2. Create a knowledge management framework and gradually implement change.
The most effective knowledge management systems and processes are those that make sense to users and can easily flow into existing business processes. Choose simple versus complex and employ logical content organization wherever possible, touching base frequently with your intended KM teams to get their feedback as you build this framework.
A gradual, measured implementation of your KM strategy will be less disruptive overall and will allow you to learn from your users what’s working, what requires adjustment, and what potential areas of knowledge growth you can explore next.
3. Focus on relevant, useful, easily accessible content from the start.
You’ve assessed your internal and customer needs, analyzed their frequent searches, and identified areas in which your organization needs to build new knowledge. Use those insights to focus your knowledge creation and capture strategies and check in with your KM teams frequently to ensure things are moving in the right direction. Focus on a knowledge search strategy that’s intuitive and easily navigable, and pay attention to your team and customers’ feedback to continuously enhance the search process.
4. Incentivize employees to properly implement KM.
Recognizing your employees for their contributions can go a long way toward not only making your team feel appreciated, but more apt to contribute to and maintain a KM system, making it more valuable and useful to all. Incentivize knowledge-sharing, knowledge creation, and regular feedback related to KM improvement with appreciative gestures, acknowledgement in employee communications, special benefits, or bonuses depending on their level of contribution. These highly visible recognitions will encourage individual achievers to continue their efforts and will likely inspire others to ramp up their own involvement. Learn more about how to implement a knowledge management system.
5. Define ownership of KM initiatives and establish a continuity plan.
When an employee knows they are responsible for a particular knowledge area, they are more likely to follow your defined KM practices to provide relevant, accurate, and useful information. Their success in this is directly tied to organizational success. With this in mind, it should be made clear from the start that they will be credited and rewarded for their achievements.
For larger KM initiatives, it’s wise to appoint a knowledge manager who understands the business drivers for that initiative, indicators of its potential success, and how to assist employees in carrying out their specific roles. These managers should be encouraged and rewarded for both keeping their process on track, as well as offering critical insights into issues that need attention.
When you’re assigning responsibility for both knowledge areas and initiatives, be sure to also consider a continuity plan—how that key knowledge will flow to other team members if an employee departs, in order to preserve it within your company.
6. Check in frequently and focus on continuous improvement.
Regularly meeting with all members of your KM teams will help you more clearly identify positive outcomes, as well as areas that need improvement. Insights from people involved at different levels of your knowledge creation, capture, sharing, and usage processes offer valuable lessons learned and highlight gaps in knowledge so you can refocus.
Organizations using KM most effectively are those whose strategies and best practices are never set in stone. Rather, they evolve to meet the changing needs and demands of the employees and customers using and contributing to this knowledge in real time.