Knowledge can work as a trump card, the strategic asset that we can put to good use for our advantage across our business endeavours. But this is not all. What we have been able to add across time is the crucial idea of knowledge management. So it’s not just knowledge per se, rather the way we handle the information we possess, that increases the likelihood of a successful project. Knowledge management success is thus a good predictor of business goal achievement.
According to Davenport, De Long, and Beers (1997), there are four kinds of goals that a knowledge management project can pursue. All four stem from taking knowledge as a resource in and of itself, which should be handled accordingly:
- create knowledge repositories
- improve knowledge access
- enhance knowledge environment
- manage knowledge as an asset
But what do you get out of wisely managing access to knowledge? There are many benefits of knowledge sharing that we discussed at large in a previous article. At enterprise level, for instance, knowledge sharing ensures that each and every employee has a voice of his/her own, a voice which doesn’t lose its individuality. A joint venture of these individual voices may generate new ideas, which could be aggregated into potential solutions that would have not been salient to the individual minds. Innovative solutions can thus become accessible beyond the exceptional abilities of geniuses.
A methodological upshot of a knowledge sharing software is that it facilitates the process of communication at enterprise level. Hence, faster access to the appropriate bit of necessary information, hence more accuracy and increased job satisfaction.
How to check if your knowledge management project is a succes
1. Understand the financial and operational nuts-and-bolts of a business
A successful project adds value to the enterprise where it is developed. Things are simple and we’re talking about monetary value here. Just like any other project, a knowledge management initiative must either bring revenue, or reduce costs, because only this way can it justify investment. To this end, of course, it must be measurable.
2. Get official support from business executives
This is necessary due to the considerable change of organizational culture that the project is likely to produce. Such a change requires careful monitoring in order to stick to the right track and pursue the project objectives efficiently. Consequently, it is advisable that the project is sponsored by the executive responsible for the particular business driver that constitutes the project objective. Additionally, executive sponsorship can also help tipping the scale as to whether it’s better for your company to build a knowledge platform internally or to rely on a ready-made one.
3. Think strategically
Besides crystal clear awareness of the objectives and of the available means to attain them, a significant degree of foresight is needed. Employees should be regularly updated regarding the consequential changes after launching a knowledge management platform. This is the best way to keep them engaged, and therefore it paves the way towards successful goal achievement.
4. Select your ‘internal champions’
These are the most driven, cheerful, and eager to see (and enjoy) the project results. You can count on their contagious enthusiasm in spreading excitement about knowledge management and its corresponding organizational changes. Therefore, such people are the projects’ pillars of strength.
5. Know your knowledge
Structure and organize your knowledge assets. Compile a database of useful information, selected according to objective criteria of contextual relevance. Learn from the others, and use prior examples of successful knowledge categorization.
6. Use a ‘baby steps’ policy for implementation
You need to give people the time to internalize the changes, which is why you shouldn’t rush. A good strategy is ‘Divide and conquer’, that is, launch the project in phases. Start with a soft launch, or a pilot phase, and move on to larger scale implementation after fixing the bugs your discover in this phase. Generally, at each new phase, apply what you’ve learned from the previous ones.
7. Stay open to feedback
Feedback from your internal champions is most helpful because they are the people who have most experience with using the knowledge management software from the very beginning. This feedback will ensure a fruitful rollout.
8. Facilitate your employees’ access to knowledge
Of course, this is by and large one of the expected consequences of the whole project. But you could also do specific things during implementation to speed up access to precisely the needed information. To this end, a knowledge directory on the knowledge sharing platform might serve you well.
9. Draw in your business leaders
The executives should be involved from the very outset, i.e., from setting the project objectives. If they stay active on the platform, they support everybody’s engagement. Moreover, they send out the message that the change pursued through the knowledge management platform is important and should be treated accordingly by all.
Supposing you’ve taken these recommendations, how can you evaluate the success of your knowledge management project? In the first place, by observing everybody utilizing the platform and contributing to its continuous development: adding experiences, documents, notes, etc. to the knowledge repository.
Everybody should know how the platform works, i.e., how to add specific files, how and where to find the appropriate information. Success is inherently tied to the ease of access to information; the knowledge must be ‘alive’, in the sense that it is updated regularly according to current interests. Ultimately, use of the knowledge assets has measurable benefits, and the project objectives are met at all stages.
Although “Knowledge is power” is a respectable five-century old dictum, efficient knowledge management has not yet turned into a cliché, nor is it likely to do so in the future. It is also not a miraculous solution for all management problems. Nevertheless, a goal-directed and effective use of knowledge assets is one of the many components of proper management.
As such, excellence in knowledge management can become your competitive advantage, just like any of sound planning, well organized and structured work, high-quality products, strategic marketing, etc. In other words, when faced with the fierce rivalry on the market, it’s wise of you to be keen on attaining knowledge management success.