What is Knowledge Management?
by: Derek Huey |November 5, 2014 | Category: Knowledge Management
The term “Knowledge Management” can carry a variety of definitions depending on the context. For us at Premier Logic, Knowledge Management (KM) is all about capturing your existing content and delivering it to users in a way that allows them to be more successful.
For example: If I need to write a Statement Of Work for an upcoming project and do not have a SOW template, I will be forced to create my own SOW template. Can I do this? Well yes I can. But the process would take longer and the end result will lack the level of detail that would be included in a template written by someone who has more experience writing SOWs. In this example, I would love to know where that template lives and how to get it. That ability to access what I need is the core goal of Knowledge Management projects.
We build enterprise-level KM systems to connect content consumers with expertly developed and approved content across a multitude of content types (templates, sample deliverables, sales presentations, you name it). Our goal for each client is to tailor a system to their needs, providing the access they haven’t had before and helping their users become the most successful they can be.
So what does a Knowledge Management system look like? Is it just a corporate tool?
The short answer is that, while corporate environments are the most common place you could find a KM system, they are all around us.
You probably used the largest Knowledge Management system in the world when you couldn’t remember how to tie your tie for that meeting this morning!
If you need to fix or build anything (or remember how to tie a four-in-hand knot) just look at YouTube, the world’s biggest Knowledge Management system. In Youtube’s massive archives, you can find multiple videos showing you how to accomplish just about anything. YouTube is lightly moderated so you may not want to trust the information, but the information is there nonetheless. It is very likely people in your organization are already using this social KM solution.
I’ve been asked on a number of occasions to determine Return On Investment for the KM solutions we build. This is always difficult for me, because measuring the value of a KM solution is so complex. More often than not, I measure the value not in dollars saved, but in the improvements our system brings to its users’ lives. When people are considering bringing Premier Logic in to build a KM system, I often tell the story of how our own KM system has helped us grow.
When I started at Premier Logic I was constantly contacted by the sales team to quickly provide presentations, SOW templates, or any of a dozen content types. I had everything they wanted stored locally, but nothing was accessible through the cloud. As the company scaled up, it became clear that I was a bottleneck for the Sales team – If I was out of the office or away, they were stuck. I was the only person who could get to the resources they needed.
I knew this had to change so we built and are using an internal KM solution to support our sales efforts (built on SharePoint 2013). The number of requests I get for sales content has dropped dramatically as a result of implementing our KM solution.
Along with building the system I also spent time with our sales team going through the presentations explaining each slide. They can now step through the presentations with a prospect without having to depend on my availability. I haven’t calculated the exact ROI but here is what I know:
- The sales force is happier and more effective because they are not dependent on the availability of a single resource
- I am happier because I don’t have to spend nights and weekends catching up because I spent most of my day supporting the sales effort
- Leveraging the KM solution allows Premier Logic to close more deals – increasing the ROI
Building a KM solution is complex and must be accompanied by a desire to share information within the company. Many companies struggle with the desire to hoard (or silo) their information, splitting a cohesive team into individual fiefdoms that vie for power. This can derail even the best KM solutions, but it can be beaten.
To be successful with KM you will need to develop a robust culture of sharing.
I think the best way to develop a culture of sharing is to dedicate a resource to develop and support your KM program. Along with a dedicated resource, commitment from the leadership team is critical for a successful KM program. I have never seen an organization successfully develop a KM program without these two key ingredients.
If the leadership of your organization is only partially engaged and they are not willing to make that investment in KM resources I suggest that your organization is not ready to support this type of effort. If you have been tasked with the development of such a solution and do not have these two key ingredients you should run away as quickly as you can.Tags: Derek Huey, Knowledge Management, Premier Logic, Sharepoint, Thought Leadership