According to Benjamin Franklin, “an investment in knowledge pays the best interest.” Lessons learned from past successes, and mistakes, accumulate as an organization expands. This knowledge is powerful; however, it’s often undocumented, difficult to access, and in danger of disappearing.
Collecting and sharing information is vital, as it increases the growth potential of your organization. Knowledge is power, but only if your employees have access to it. Investing in a knowledge management solution can result in substantial benefits by gathering information in a central repository to make more informed decisions.
What you don’t know can hurt you
Tribal knowledge within an organization is invaluable. As an organization grows, it becomes more difficult for individuals to know about every expert. Different teams and departments often use different applications to store their knowledge, meaning this wealth of information is often held in silos. People with the knowledge are available to help others, but they may not know about each other. And when employees leave, their knowledge leaves with them. Even when they train replacements, departing employees are never able to pass on everything they know.
Knowledge management solutions (KMS) allow an organization to capture that tribal knowledge and share the lessons learned. As that knowledge base continues to develop, KMS can also prevent “content sprawl.” When data grows faster than it can be managed, the result is often disconnected, inefficient, and sometimes even unusable sources of information. Collecting that tribal knowledge and organizing it in a systematic fashion allows the entire organization to benefit from the experiences of others.
Don’t reinvent the wheel
Employees are often unable to find the information they need because of time constraints and lack of understanding of where to go. They spend an estimated 30 percent of their time looking for information or recreating something that already exists. Just as recycling is good for the environment, reusing ideas, documents, and expertise is good for your organization because it minimizes duplicated efforts. KMS is the one-stop shop that speeds the retrieval of information and enables staff to be efficient in their work, reducing frustrations while accelerating progress and saving time and money.
In addition to avoiding redundant efforts, KMS also allow employees to avoid repeating mistakes. By sharing the learning of success and failures, the organization can develop standard processes and procedures. These practices allow employees to quickly learn how things are done. Standard procedures also lead to predictable and quality results, enabling a large organization to be consistent in how work is performed. Once you have developed an effective process, KMS ensure those standards are made available for others to use each time a similar situation comes up.
Putting that knowledge to use
With tribal knowledge collected and standard practices established, employees can make faster and better decisions for the organization. When faced with responding to a customer, solving a problem, or analyzing trends, employees typically look for information and resources to support these actions. When employees understand how and why others around them make decisions, it becomes easier to make future decisions that align with the company’s mission and values. Knowledge management solutions allow for quicker decisions based on actual experiences, large sample sizes and practical lessons.
The rate of information growth is often so fast that employees could never read, retain and keep all the information at their disposal organized. Knowledge management reduces the loss of know-how by capturing explicit and tacit knowledge. KMS enables an organization to leverage its size as it grows; it provides the infrastructure to effectively manages large volumes of information so that employees can better serve their customers.