3 items tagged "knowledge management,"

  • 5 Signs You Need a (Better) Knowledge Management Solution

    Knowledge-Management-e1443598516862We’ve all been there before, having so many different projects going on and being pulled in so many different directions. The last thing you want on a busy day is an email as the sun goes down with a bunch of questions that only you know the answer to. But what if there was a simple and effective way to share your knowledge so it was easily accessible to your team, vendors, partners, and maybe even your customers? There is, and this organized sharing of information is called “Knowledge Management”, or KM for short. Here are five signs you need a knowledge management solution so you can get away from answering basic questions and focus on the big picture…
    1) People always go to one person for answers – Communication between employees is great and it helps to build bonds of trust. But when it’s one-sided with one employee always answering the questions it can be draining and cause frustration. Instead of having a sage of knowledge, have your go-to person document their knowledge in writing (or even audio/video) so it can be shared with a larger audience.
    2) Nobody can find the information – So maybe your all-knowing employee wrote down everything they know, but all the info requests still funnel through them because the documents they created are kept on their computer. Aside from the obvious fact that a computer crash would mean losing that information, you should save the knowledge in a shared location (such as a KM solution) that can be easily accessed by all. A centralized hub with will also help in preventing version control issues with people sharing outdated files.
    3) You’re seeing multiple conflicting answers to simple issues – Sometimes the wrong answer, or worse sharing disinformation, can be more harmful to a company than not answering at all. It makes you look foolish and wastes the time of everyone involved. For example, an employee may be telling customers to use the wrong tax classification in an accounting software – it may work for the time being but it will likely cause issues in the future when they realize it throws off their end of year numbers and they have to go back and fix every incorrect entry. A KM solution will give employees an authority source to reference across departments and make sure they are sharing the right information.
    4) Employees won’t change the way they obtain information – Old habits die hard. If someone has been reaching out to Sally for five years to get information, they will likely keep utilizing this method until it no longer works (even if you launch a KM solution). Tell Sally to stop hand-holding people and to redirect them to the KM system. If it looks professional, is accurate, and information is easy to obtain, this will train people to stop reaching out to an employee for information. Also, look for a KM solution that is interconnected with your customer support ticketing system so all correspondence originates within the solution and requests to fix erroneous information can be completed in a timely and structured manner.
    5) Customers keep asking the same questions – Once your internal staff is educated and less reliant on one or two individuals, it’s time to look at how your customers communicate with you. If you are selling a product and you keep getting tickets asking “how do I charge it?” then it’s time to take parts of your KM solution external. By pointing customers to an online Knowledge Base (KB) constructed from your KM solution, they will be able to answer their own simple questions, saving your support team time and money. Making this transition is easy if you select KM technology that is built for customer support as well.
    To conclude, you need a knowledge management solution if employees are relying too much on each other for information, especially for simple inquiries. A KM hub is a location for information to not only be stored but also shared with others as you see fit. One closing thought – a KM solution can be an authority for information but for it to maintain credibility with your employees it should be reviewed and revised frequently. Assign an employee to oversee the knowledge management solution and work with others as needed to keep information relevant enough to continue to provide value to your company.
    Source: business2community.com, December 12, 2016
  • 5 Ways To Keep Your Company's Knowledge From Walking Out The Door

    f0920b7b2509e4ed247145de8bf09ff0As the founder of a company, you’ve learned to expect to lose people, often your best people, and grin and bear it when your star performer tells you she’s moving on. You go through the steps of trying capture some of the institutional and project knowledge that leaves when anybody does. But a lot of people don’t realize how often job changes happen — and how much the job market has changed since companies last paid attention to how they managed knowledge loss.

    The average Baby Boomer will probably retire having had about 12 or 13 jobs, based on Bureau of Labor Statistics numbers. The typical Millennial, on the other hand might hold as many as 20. And those are nationwide statistics. In Silicon Valley, where startups blink out as quickly as fireflies in a process of creative destruction, the pace is probably much quicker. You can be a great engineer and work at a dozen or more software companies just in your 20s and 30s.

    Of course, you should take the right legal steps to guard inventions and intellectual property. Most companies I know have that part down pat.

    But if you want to be at the forefront of managing knowledge, keep two other priorities in mind: Keep a relationship with your co-worker even after he’s gone, and make sure all of the knowledge that co-worker has doesn’t reside only in his head.

    “The only thing that gives an organization a competitive edge, the only thing that is sustainable, is what it knows, how it uses what it knows and how fast it can know something,” says Larry Prusak, a long-time researcher in the field of knowledge management.

    Here are my five tips for the steps companies can take to keep their knowledge from walking out the door.

    1. See employee resignations as an opportunity.

    It seems at first that you’re losing someone who was a co-worker, and, in many cases, a friend. But in the new world of work, there are a million ways to keep that person in your network. A departure means your network will grow twice: You’ll have someone on the outside, still staying in touch, probably moving on and up in the world. And you’ll have the chance to bring someone new into your company.

    2. Set up a place where former co-workers can continue to contribute.

    Many people invested a lot in what they built at your company, and they’ll want to keep in touch and keep contributing. Can you set up an alumni group on LinkedIn? Can you keep co-workers as members on some of your shared spaces, like folders in Dropbox, Libraries in Kifi, or channels in Slack ? How about inviting them to a once-a-year party? In The Alliance, authors Reid Hoffman (my old boss at LinkedIn!), Ben Casnocha and Chris Yeh point out that companies including Accenture , eBay and Harvard Business School have set up alumni networks. There are three different kinds of engagement with your former teammates:

    • Ignore: not advisable!
    • Support: ad hoc support, such as maintaining mailing lists, pizza parties and endorsing the independent efforts of alumni
    • Invest: offer benefits such as alumni discounts, coordinate intelligence-gathering from alumni, dedicate staff to developing the network

    3. Keep the majority of your knowledge hosted online:

    Assuming you’re not in an industry with a lot of tight regulations, bake knowledge sharing into your processes. This almost de facto means hosting a lot online. It’ll make you productive, and it also means knowledge is retained as people move from job to job. There are other benefits, too: The knowledge is accessible to all of your team from anywhere. Some of my favorite apps for team communication: Slack and Asana. Tons of great companies have been built in Silicon Valley using Jira and HipChat.

    4. Be obsessive about sharing knowledge within your team.

    Different people learn and organize knowledge in different ways, so you might need more than one tool to get the job done. Look for tools that have granular controls, so you can customize to your teams’ needs. Look for tools that enable knowledge sharing in different ways. And look for tools that integrate and export to other tools. What is important is to put knowledge out there in such a way — an integrated, contextual way — so that people can find it when they need it. When your co-worker is leaving, a lot of what he or she knows has already been incorporated into the team’s base of knowledge.

    5. Give credit where it’s due.

    Not only do you need to have the tools to share knowledge, but you need to create an atmosphere of trust, where credit is given where credit is due. People will share willingly and keep in touch after they’ve gone if it pays them to do so. Be generous as you acknowledge their contributions, while they are on your team, and afterwards.
    It’s not really that they’ve left your team at all — they just helped you make it bigger.

    Source: Forbes

  • Information on demand

    Dirk PrinslooKnowledge is power. The more you know, the better equipped you are to handle and control events. But given how much information organisations have to deal with on a daily basis, managing all of this data can prove troublesome.

    The rate at which information and knowledge is being produced is increasing by the day, notes Henri Fourie, GM for content and collaboration at Decision Inc. "Being able to find the right information easily and quickly is becoming more important than ever. Connecting to peers and experts across the organisation that can guide you in finding the information relevant to the decision you need to make is also becoming increasingly important," he adds. Luckily, Knowledge Management (KM) systems and search technologies have advanced into 'intelligent' tools, which are able to suggest what information may pertain to the employee's needs, rather than them needing to go out and search for it.

    In many organisations, there exists a chasm between top management, with its years of experience and expertise, and junior employees, who have limited experience and expertise, says Dirk Prinsloo, SharePoint team lead at Intervate, a T-Systems company. "Effective KM can foster a sharing of insights that makes young and inexperienced workers feel empowered and, if applied effectively, can bridge this gap." This also drives positive work behaviour, as those at the top are leading by example, he continues. "Leaders should encourage broad collaboration where people are not only seen as colleagues, but as allies."

    Capturing and sharing knowledge within an organisation provides an enormous competitive advantage.

    When organisations look at information-sharing, they often focus all of their effort and funding on KM systems that enable the sharing of formal information, says Greg Griffith, product manager for business solutions from Konica Minolta SA. But these systems do not address the arguably more important informal knowledge – peer-to-peer knowledge-sharing. "Effective collaboration is therefore only achieved with knowledge management systems that link the formal information to informal information by accessing the experience and expertise of the people behind the formal information."

    Prinsloo describes KM as a business process that is geared towards streamlining ways of working. Effective KM boosts productivity by reducing the amount of tedious communication between people within the organisation, thus reducing repetitiveness. Similarly, new technologies are making the process of storing and accessing information much more effective, he adds.

    Power of tech
    Traditionally, data analytics and reporting provided an 'after the fact' view of what happened and these tools were used to measure the impact of a decision rather than to guide a decision, says Fourie. This was due to the fact that a certain amount of time elapsed between the data being captured and that information actually being analysed. "With real-time analytics, decision-makers are able to not only measure the impact of their decisions, but they can also adjust such decisions based on the outcomes they are seeing in real-time."

    KM should not be an after-thought, it should be a symptom of working, states Tal Nathan, MD of products for Britehouse, "KM is no longer the task of a librarian or a taxonomist working in isolation, but rather an appreciation that we are all contributing to the intellectual capital of an organisation." Echoing Fourie's statements around the importance of being able to access information quickly and with ease, Nathan details how slow collaborative information-sharing can be, especially when trying to get a response from colleagues. Automated self-service portals offer astronomical value and save hundreds of hours each month in productivity. "A field service technician can find a solution to a problem with a piece of equipment without needing to go back to the office. Medical professionals can get live diagnostics to assist with healthcare. We are moving into a world where we will have all answers to all the questions in fractions of a second."

    If information isn't properly indexed and stored, employees can spend more than 20 minutes searching for the data they need, Griffith points out. When this is the case, research suggests that this document could actually be considered to be lost. "The effect of search efficiency on knowledge worker productivity can be huge."

    Making an organisation's information operations more streamlined and efficient can only be done through greater use of technology, notes Fred Steinberg, MD of Communication Genetics. "If you are still using manual information workflows that are largely dependent on humans doing classification tasks, or if a large amount of your information is still stored on paper, or if losing your e-mail server for three days would bring your organisation to its knees, then you are already working in an organisation at high informational risk." Businesses need an effective strategy to support users and empower them to become efficient knowledge workers. "Information flow is the life blood of the modern organisation and without an effective information governance programme, your organisation runs the risk of becoming an information swamp."

    Out of my head
    According to Griffith, one of the key elements of KM is capturing, storing and making available the information stored in people's head. "Knowledge, when locked into systems or processes, has a higher inherent value than when it can simply 'walk out of the door' in people's heads." Organisations should be looking at knowledge management as a strategy that adds value to the organisation by ensuring that talented people are viewed as assets and retained within organisations.

    It's not uncommon for knowledge and expertise to remain with individuals, says Steinberg. "These people are the only ones who are able to effectively access it. And this knowledge is lost to the organisation when they leave." In line with this, Prinsloo believes that a great deal of insight and ideas are lost during informal interactions both inside and outside the workplace. Dubbing these 'coffee station conversations', he outlines how the information that is shared during these casual chats is not utilised by the organisation because it isn't captured in any way.

    Often, individuals with shared interests come together in person, or virtually, to tell stories, to share and discuss problems and opportunities, discuss best practices and talk over lessons learned, says Fourie. These communities of practice emphasise the social nature of learning within or across organisations. "Conversations in the hallway are often disregarded, but in large and geographically distributed organisations, it's essential for these conversations to be facilitated by becoming virtual."

    Good information governance means taking control of the organisation's information flows and ensuring that vital information is captured, properly identified, searchable, continues Steinberg. In addition to this, the lifecycle of the data must be properly governed in accordance with regulatory and legal requirements, the organisation's own information policies and good business practice. "In an information governance environment, knowledge workers can be sure that they are working effectively together, because they are able to more easily find, use and reuse relevant information and are less distracted by information that is redundant, obsolete or trivial."

    Know thy knowledge
    For Henri Fourie, from Decision Inc, knowledge is most commonly categorised in one of three ways. Understanding how best to utilise and derive value from these different types of information is essential to gaining valuable insights from the intellect at your disposal.

    • Explicit knowledge: Information or knowledge that is set out in tangible form, i.e. in a document or system somewhere.
    • Implicit knowledge: Information or knowledge that is not set out in tangible form but could be made explicit.
    • Tacit knowledge: Information or knowledge that one would have extreme difficulty operationally setting out in tangible form.

    Path of least resistance
    Introducing any new technology or business process is often met with resistance, states Dirk Prinsloo, from T-Systems company Intervate. When faced with the task of learning how to use unfamiliar software or technologies, older generations tend to be more uncomfortable than their younger counterparts. Prinsloo suggests that a rollout plan should be devised very carefully so that everyone in the organisation is eased into the ins and outs of the new work process. Offering incentives is one way to encourage people to get on board. "It can be hard for people to engage with a new piece of software if it is just dumped in their laps and they are unaware of how it will improve their ability to get their work done."
    The systems and mediums that a company employs for KM are equally as important as change management efforts and communication with staff around how and what these new systems will be used for, adds Fourie. "Good KM systems often fail because people don't know how, why or for what to use them." Knowledge management initiatives, like all projects, benefit enormously from having a clearly defined scope and objective, he notes. "True, successful initiatives will change and adapt over time and expand through demand, but that expansion should also be clearly defined and should have tangible objectives."

    Britehouse's Tal Nathan agrees that buy-in from customers and employees is key to the success of any KM strategy. "KM and digital technologies often fail because they just aren't adopted." One of the main reasons that users fail to embrace new technologies and processes is that the new architecture is designed in such a way that end-users must be trained to fit into the system and not the other way around. This idea needs to be reversed, he stresses. "The KM system needs to be molded to fit into the average knowledge workers life and pocket."

    Source: ITWeb

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