A guide to knowledge management

Published on 11/02/2022 by Caroline Rousseau, Anna Hammond and Ojasvini

This article was originally published on 27/05/2020.

This article will talk about knowledge management, followed by its benefits and potential challenges. We will also cover the different types of business knowledge and how it can help your business.

Knowledge management (KM) can allow businesses to take faster and efficient decisions

As per a report by the International Journal on Social and Education Sciences (IJONSES), knowledge management is a significant factor influencing businesses’ capacity to stay ahead of the competition in the global economy. The study also claims that knowledge is crucial to an organisation’s growth. That being the case, businesses should ideally implement techniques that could help acquire collective knowledge, leading to a more structured and developed knowledge base that could enhance productivity. Organisations can potentially create a collaborative environment with the help of appropriate knowledge management software.

What is knowledge management?

Knowledge management (KM) is a process that involves putting together all the internal information —such as data, facts, personnel details, and research material— of an organisation in one place, and making it available for all the departments and employees. KM might prove to be helpful in bridging informational gaps between departments so that everyone can benefit from shared access to the same information. According to Gartner, KM offers a collaborative method to create, use, share, and manage data and knowledge.

What is knowledge management software?

Knowledge management software offers a concentrated and browsable repository of essential documents such as spreadsheets, PDFs, videos, procedures, and presentations. With a knowledge management tool, information could ideally be stored in one place and be logically structured. It could also allow users to share information internally or externally with potential customers. An example of a KM tool is Google Drive.

What are the different types of business knowledge?

There might be many different types of business knowledge. Here, we explain three common types.

A few common types of business knowledge

How can knowledge management help businesses?

According to a report by Preferred Media, the time spent by employees in searching for files costs companies on average over US$8,200 per employee per year. Companies may be able to save on this cost with the help of an appropriate KM tool. The right approach to knowledge management could also help organisations stay efficient, share information, collaborate, and make better business decisions. 

In addition, a KM strategy could allow an organisation to keep and store the knowledge it might have gained over the years and utilise it for future business operations. Below, we have given some of the benefits of having a knowledge management process in place.  

Faster and more efficient access to information

A business environment that follows KM practices may be able to take faster decisions as they could get ideally prompt access to vital information via the search and support feature of a KM tool. As a result, some KM software could help in finding the exact information needed, likely leading to efficient business operations. 

Enhanced employee participation and retention

A knowledge management strategy might help new employees get trained more efficiently, since everyone would be able to share their knowledge on a single platform. This centralisation and optimisation of knowledge could also help in creative idea-sharing. Moreover, it may lead to better employee retention by providing existing members of the organisation a central platform to share their experiences, transfer knowledge, and grow.

Better quality of information and more streamlined data

KM tools could help gather better quality and structured data that might be valuable for effectively planning business strategies and catering to customers’ needs.  For example, suppose if an organisation offers loans, then a sales executive —with the help of KM software— could respond to a repeat customer armed with existing, previously-stored data. 

Can help prevent a potential data breach

Well-structured and vigilant organisational knowledge management strategies can potentially protect your company from any legal or cyber breach by securely managing and controlling the resources within an organisation. Knowledge management tools could help act as a protection shield, simultaneously protecting the company’s data and cautiously screening what type of information is going where. 

For instance, some KM tools can record what part of an organisation’s information is shared among which stakeholders and which part is highly confidential and block access to such information, thereby enhancing security. 

What are the potential challenges of knowledge management?

“71% of HR heads are more concerned about employee collaboration” currently than they were prior to the COVID-19 pandemic —as per a report by Gartner. This concern could enhance the importance of having information readily available for employees using a knowledge management tool —whether they are at home or the office. However, there could also be many possible challenges of knowledge management, some of which are discussed below.

Difficulty getting everyone involved to collaborate

An organisation could struggle and find it challenging to implement new strategies and structures, and some employees may resist such changes. In such a situation, implementing a knowledge management platform could be a task as some employees might not want to share their knowledge with the team.  

Constantly keeping up with the latest trends and updates

A knowledge management system may require constant up-gradation and maintenance over time. Organisations with less bandwidth may find it challenging to keep up with incorporating and storing information on changing market trends and the latest updates. 

Designing a knowledge transfer system

Another challenge of KM software implementation could be maintaining an effective knowledge transfer system. For instance, in cases wherein an important employee decides to leave the organisation, it might become difficult to ensure the smooth transfer of knowledge. Companies could struggle here to formalise this process before the actual departure.

What’s the key takeaway?

According to the Gartner article cited above, an organisation where teams collaborate and share knowledge willingly have an approximately three times higher chance of achieving organisational growth than those who do not collaborate internally. There might be many methods and techniques that organisations could use for creating and transferring knowledge, a KM tool being one of them. The important thing for organisations to focus on would be storing, organising, managing, and sharing knowledge —both internally and externally— keeping all safety precautions in mind.

Looking for knowledge management software? Take a look at our catalogue!

This article may refer to products, programs or services that are not available in your country, or that may be restricted under the laws or regulations of your country. We suggest that you consult the software provider directly for information regarding product availability and compliance with local laws.

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About the authors

Content Analyst specializing in trends and challenges of new technologies in the professional world. Passions: Albert Camus, art, riddles.

Content Analyst specializing in trends and challenges of new technologies in the professional world. Passions: Albert Camus, art, riddles.

Content Analyst for Australia. Focusing on insights about software technolgies critical to SMEs. Insipred by growing tech trends and how these help SMEs to grow.

Content Analyst for Australia. Focusing on insights about software technolgies critical to SMEs. Insipred by growing tech trends and how these help SMEs to grow.