What is a Knowledge Management (KM) Specialist & How to Become One

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What is a Knowledge Management (KM) Specialist & How to Become One

Managing knowledge is a task that many companies still struggle with.

As we previously discussed in an article about the top 5 knowledge management challenges, managing knowledge translates to converting raw data into comprehensible information, which all members of your team can access, anytime.

We also talked about some of the best practices you need to follow to make sure that your knowledge management project is a success. We reached one clear conclusion: more and more companies should (and already do) rely on KM solutions. And this is essential especially for those managing large teams and remote employees. 

So, what is a knowledge management specialist? And how do you go about becoming one?

Some companies may have various, full-time knowledge management positions, while others have part-time employees. Additionally, multiple roles may be integrated into a single KM position. An example of this would be an intellectual capital manager or an information worker. 

But simply put, a KM specialist, whether we’re talking about a Chief Knowledge Officer or a Chief Learning Officer, is responsible for the following: 

  • Formulating a knowledge management strategy
  • Handling a company’s knowledge management operations
  • Influencing change in the organization
  • Properly managing the knowledge management staff

Knowledge management (KM) roles

However, as mentioned above, there can be several KM roles within a company and Knowledge Management Tools have identified the most common ones: 

  • Knowledge Manager: an executive, working alongside the CKO, implementing knowledge initiatives, but also manages KM efforts
  • KM Champions / Knowledge Leaders: responsible for promoting KM within an organization
  • Knowledge Navigator / Knowledge Broker: knows where knowledge is located, responsible for connecting people with knowledge to those in need
  • Knowledge Synthesizer / Knowledge Steward: keeps knowledge up to date
  • Knowledge Editor: manages the format and language of explicit knowledge
  • Knowledge Analysts: translates user needs into knowledge requirements
  • Knowledge Transfer Engineer: captures and codifies tacit knowledge
  • Knowledge Systems Engineer: creates solutions for KM initiatives

Responsibilities of a knowledge management (KM) specialist

Some of the tasks that KM specialists are usually responsible for are:

  • designing and implementing effective learning activities,
  • managing knowledge-sharing events,
  • identifying and curating technical website content,
  • managing website community engagement,
  • documenting and sharing learning or engaging partners and learning champions.

In order to achieve all these tasks, we found that it’s best to start with a “think” outside of the box attitude.

A knowledge management specialist should be able to build collaborative environments, transform organizations into rapid-learning environments, develop innovative ways of doing knowledge mapping and create a proper KM vision for their company, including a strategy for getting there. 

Finally, a KM specialist is a person who can work on several levels of the company, with several levels of requirements. This involves updating and maintaining knowledge bases, taking part in the knowledge sharing policy elaboration and, of course, contributing to building a shared mindset and understanding of knowledge management.

Do you need a knowledge management (KM) certification?

Some say that it’s mandatory, especially for those who are relatively new to the world of KM. Why? Because it can give you a more standardized, broad view and definition of the entire concept. And after obtaining it, anybody should be able to articulate and consolidate everything they know about knowledge management and, therefore, understand their roles as a KM practitioner much better. 

On the other side, some claim that the field of knowledge management actually spans over 100 specialties, which is way too broad to be certified as a whole. For example, taking a one-week class in knowledge management is a good start to becoming a CKM, but it’s actually quite far from experienced KM consultants and thought leaders.

Conclusion

Getting a knowledge management specialist certification can start as an addition to your current role, to ensure that knowledge processing can be aligned with your organization’s main goals and objectives. But one that is also integrated into the daily business and work. 

Although it might sound easy, it certainly is not. A KM specialist should be able to elicit and represent both tacit and explicit knowledge, as well as structural knowledge, through business rules and processes.

What has your experience been so far, as a knowledge management specialist? We’d love to hear about it. Share your experience with your peers in the comments section below.

Looking for a great way to ask questions and build knowledge with your co-workers? Quandora enables simple, efficient knowledge sharing with your team, way more fun than a mailing list or a forum. Try Quandora

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