What is Knowledge Management?

Updated on July 30th, 2022
What is Knowledge Management?

Knowledge management is the process of acquiring, organizing, and using information and knowledge within an organization. It includes developing and implementing policies, procedures, and technologies to store, retrieve, and share information and knowledge.

Organizations implement knowledge management systems (KMS)s to improve efficiency and effectiveness by sharing knowledge and information across the organization.

What is the Purpose of Knowledge Management?

Businesses and organizations use knowledge management for a variety of reasons. Here are some main purposes of implementing a knowledge management system include:

  • Knowledge management aims to improve efficiency and effectiveness by sharing knowledge and information across the organization.
  • It also secures the collected knowledge so that it does not get lost if an employee leaves the organization.
  • Organizations utilize knowledge management to make better decisions by accessing up-to-date and accurate information.

What are the Types of Knowledge?

Organizations mainly use the following three types of knowledge:

Explicit Knowledge

It is the type of knowledge that you can codify, store, and transfer to others. Organizations use explicit knowledge to document processes, policies, and procedures. They also use it to communicate information to stakeholders and customers. You can write it in systematic or formal language. Companies store this knowledge in books, manuals, databases, and other documents.

Tacit Knowledge

It is the type of knowledge that you gain through personal experience. It is hard to formalize and transfer to others. Tacit knowledge is mainly used for decision-making and problem-solving. You gain it through observation, communication, and practice. Tacit knowledge is usually personal and exists in people's minds.

Implicit Knowledge

Implicit knowledge includes the skills, abilities, and know-how that people develop over time. It is hard to formalize and transfer to others. People gain implicit knowledge through training, education, and experience. Companies store this knowledge in the form of best practices, lessons learned, and case studies.

What is The Knowledge Management Process?

Knowledge management is crucial for the survival and growth of any company. To manage the data and information within your organization, you need to know about the knowledge management process. The knowledge management process includes the following steps:

Knowledge Discovery

The first step in the process is discovering the organization's knowledge. It includes identifying the tacit and explicit knowledge of employees, customers, and other stakeholders.

To identify employees' tacit knowledge, you can conduct interviews and focus groups. You can use survey questionnaires to determine the explicit knowledge of employees, customers, and other stakeholders. Data mining can also help you discover new and hidden patterns in data. Sometimes, knowledge discovery is accidental. Your team might be working on a project and come across new information that can be useful for the organization.

Knowledge Capture

In this step, you must capture the knowledge you have discovered. It includes knowledge that your employees, teams, processes, and documents already have.

Examining your existing knowledge and processes can help you identify gaps in your knowledge. You also need to promote content creation in areas where your organization lacks knowledge.

Knowledge Organization

After you have captured the knowledge, you need to organize it so that it is easily accessible to employees. Organizing knowledge can help you save time and resources. It can also help you improve the quality of your products and services. It includes storing knowledge in databases, repositories, and intranets.

You need to create a system to classify and categorize knowledge so employees can easily find the necessary information. You also need to create a system to manage knowledge versions. It helps in tracking changes in knowledge over time.

Knowledge Assessment

After organizing knowledge, you need to verify its accuracy and quality. It includes assessing the relevance, value, and usefulness of knowledge. Knowledge assessment ensures that your organizational knowledge is up-to-date and accurate.

For knowledge assessment, you can conduct interviews with your staff. Regular reviews from experts can also help you assess the quality of your knowledge. You can also use analytics to assess the impact of knowledge on your organization's performance. Knowledge assessment enables businesses to make evidence-based decisions. It boosts collaboration among employees and allows them to innovate internal and external processes.

Knowledge Sharing

Knowledge sharing is the process of making knowledge available to employees. It includes creating a culture of sharing and collaboration. Team leaders must create an environment where employees feel comfortable sharing their knowledge. They can encourage knowledge sharing by organizing training sessions and workshops. Creating a system of rewards and recognition can also encourage employees to share knowledge.

You can't benefit from knowledge management without sharing it. Knowledge sharing helps businesses to improve their performance. It promotes innovation and creativity within the organization. Knowledge sharing also helps in developing new products and services.

Knowledge Utilization

At this stage, you use the knowledge you have captured and organized to achieve your business goals. During this stage, team leaders direct the use of knowledge. They guide their teams on how to use knowledge to improve their work. Sometimes, team leaders implement knowledge in the routine tasks of a team in the form of best practices.

Utilizing knowledge helps businesses to improve their processes and achieve their goals. It also enables teams to improve their efficiency and performance. When knowledge is used effectively, it can help businesses to gain a competitive edge.

Knowledge Creation

The final stage of the knowledge management process is knowledge creation. It includes generating new ideas and concepts through research, practice, process navigation, and other activities. Knowledge creation helps businesses to develop new products and services.

Businesses need to promote a culture of innovation to encourage knowledge creation. They can provide employees with the resources they need to create new knowledge. Creating knowledge creation guidelines, incentivizing the creation of new knowledge, and encouraging collaboration can also help businesses to encourage knowledge creation.

What are the Benefits of Knowledge Management?

Successful knowledge management systems offer several benefits. Some of them are as follows:

Building Knowledge Sharing Culture

Knowledge management develops an organizational culture of knowledge sharing and collaboration. It helps employees to share their knowledge and ideas. Team leaders and project managers encourage knowledge sharing among employees. It helps organizations in knowledge retention and improving employee productivity. It also boosts knowledge creation within the organization.

Improved Decision Making

Knowledge management helps businesses to make knowledge-based decisions. Once a team understands how to use knowledge, they can make better decisions. They can share that knowledge with other teams. Other teams utilize that knowledge to make decisions.

It helps businesses to avoid making mistakes. Other teams don't need to go through the same scenario to learn the outcomes. All the information and data are available to everyone. They can improve their skills and knowledge by learning from their mistakes.

Identifying Skill Gaps

Skill gaps are the difference between the skills employees have and the skills they need. When a team creates a knowledge-based document, it can help to identify skill gaps. Effective knowledge management helps management pinpoint employees' required skills to improve their work. It allows businesses to invest in employee training and development.

Conserving Company's Knowledge

As key employees retire or leave the company, they take their knowledge. It can be difficult for businesses to fill that gap. Knowledge management processes help businesses to store knowledge in a central location. It enables businesses to keep track of the company knowledge.

It helps them to ensure that the knowledge is conserved and available to everyone. It builds an organizational memory that is accessible to new employees. It also ensures that the knowledge is up-to-date.

Knowledge Security

When knowledge is stored in a central location, it is easier to protect. Organizations provide codified knowledge to employees through a secure channel. It helps to prevent unauthorized access to company information. It also helps businesses to comply with data security regulations. Knowledge management systems allow businesses to keep their information confidential.

Boosting Innovation

Innovation and creativity are a lifeline for businesses. Businesses need to create new products and services to be successful. They need to find new ways to improve their processes.

By encouraging knowledge transfer, businesses can create an environment of innovation. It provides employees with the resources they need to be creative. It also enables project leaders to identify new ideas and problem-solving methods.

Improving Customer Service

Customer support staff can provide better service when they have access to the right information. They can solve customer queries quickly and efficiently. It helps businesses to build a good reputation. It also helps businesses save training costs. When new customer support staff join the company, they can learn about the business processes, products, and services.

What are the Challenges of Knowledge Management?

Despite the benefits, there are some challenges that businesses face with knowledge management. Some of them are:

Lack of Motivation

Lack of motivation is a huge barrier to a knowledge management system. Employees are reluctant to share their knowledge if they don't see any benefits. They may also be worried about job security. Organizational cultures also influence employee motivation. Employees may be less likely to share their knowledge if a company has a competitive culture. They may worry that other employees will use their knowledge against them. On the other hand, if a company fosters a collaborative culture that values knowledge sharing, then employees will be more likely to share their knowledge.

Lack of Resources

Another obstacle that businesses face is a lack of resources. Creating and maintaining a knowledge management system requires time, money, and effort. Companies need to invest in the right knowledge management tools and technologies.

With time, technology changes, and businesses need to update their knowledge management system. They need to provide training to employees on how to use the system. All these require resources. If a business doesn't have the resources, it will be challenging to implement an effective knowledge management system.

Change Resistance

Employees can resist change. They may be comfortable with the current system and don't want to learn a new system. Onboarding employees with a new knowledge management system can be a challenge. The best way to overcome this challenge is to involve leading experts from the company who can help design the knowledge management system. You also need to wisely pick the topics for the training sessions to ensure that employees find them relevant and useful.

Sharing Updated And Relevant Knowledge

It is essential to share updated and relevant knowledge to ensure an effective knowledge management system. It can be a challenge to keep the knowledge updated. It requires regular maintenance. You also need to verify the knowledge to ensure that it is accurate.

To keep the knowledge relevant, you need to map the knowledge to the business processes. Monitor the changes in the business processes and update the information accordingly.

What are the Best Practices for Knowledge Management?

For the success of a knowledge management system in an organization, you need to employ the right practices. Following are some of the best knowledge management practices:

Understand Organizational Culture

An organization's culture is a key factor that influences the implementation of knowledge management programs. You need to understand your employees' capabilities, needs, and expectations. It enables you to learn what type of knowledge is valuable to your organization and how you should share it.

Creating Knowledge Management Strategies

You need to plan a knowledge management system with clear strategies based on the organizational culture. A knowledge management strategy should cover all aspects of knowledge management, from creating to sharing and storing knowledge. Define knowledge management strategies for key stakeholders and get their buy-in.

Ensure that the knowledge management system is effective and aligned with the organizational culture and business goals. Define the roles and responsibilities of employees in the system.

Develop a Training Course

Once you have defined the strategies, you must develop a training course for employees. The course should cover all aspects of the knowledge management system. You can implement various approaches to training. You can use eLearning platforms or company workshops to deliver training to employees.

You can also utilize one-on-one coaching. It is an effective training approach. In this training technique, an employee assists others in understanding and resolving an issue. Training sessions boost the confidence and the productivity of employees. It also enables them to work effectively with the knowledge management system.

Build Learning Environment

Learning is a never-ending process. If a company ceases to learn new things, its survival in the market becomes challenging. You need to provide a learning environment where employees can continuously learn and update their knowledge.

You can use different techniques to create a learning environment. The best way to accomplish it is by engaging employees in different learning activities. You can also improve your company's environment by minimizing distractions and maximizing learning opportunities. Employees should be given the freedom to experiment with new ideas.

What are The Best Knowledge Management Tools?

Here are some of the top knowledge management tools that you can use to manage knowledge effectively in your organization:

Document Management Systems

A document management system (DMS) is a software application that stores, manages, and tracks documents. It helps you to control and monitor the documents throughout their lifecycle. A DMS system allows you to track document versions, control access permissions, and automate workflows.

Modern document management is based on Electronic Document Management System (EDMS), which uses electronic means to store and manage documents. It includes automated workflow, version control, and security features.

Content Management Systems

A Content management system (CMS) is used to create, edit, and upload content. It is used to store and organize digital content. A CMS provides templates and tools that enable users to create and manage content. The templates help you edit and publish the content. A CMS allows you to control access permissions, track document versions, and automate workflows.

AI knowledge management

AI knowledge management is a system that uses artificial intelligence (AI) technologies to discover, manage, and retrieve knowledge. AI knowledge management systems are designed to help organizations manage their knowledge more effectively. AI technologies can automatically identify new and relevant knowledge, extract it from unstructured data sources, and make it accessible to users.

Learning Management Systems

A learning management system (LMS) is a software application used to plan, implement, and track training programs. It helps you to manage and deliver e-learning courses. An LMS comprehends business environments and creates customized learning paths. It also allows you to track employee progress and assess their performance.

Knowledge Bases

A knowledge base (KB) is a collection of information organizations use to store their data and knowledge. A knowledge base helps you to store, organize, and retrieve information. It is a centralized repository of knowledge that employees can access. Knowledge bases include machine-readable and human-readable knowledge bases.

Conclusion

Knowledge is a precious asset for an organization. If you don't manage it, it will become obsolete. You need to implement a knowledge management system to keep your knowledge relevant and up-to-date.

A knowledge management system enables you to organize, store, and retrieve information. It also helps you to track employee progress and assess their performance. Implementing an effective knowledge management program ensures that your employees have the most up-to-date knowledge. So, if your organization is struggling to manage data and improve organizational operations, implement knowledge management and take your company to the next level.

FAQs

What is knowledge management, and why is IT important?

Knowledge management is the process of organizing, storing, and sharing information. It enables you to utilize the most up-to-date information. By implementing an effective knowledge management program, you can encourage knowledge sharing, which can help improve organizational operations.