While we often focus on creating and exchanging knowledge, that's not where knowledge management should stop.
Generally, the best practice is for the process to be divided into 6 stages: prioritize, audit, capture, curate, deliver, and optimize.
The initial step in the process of knowledge management is to prioritize the knowledge we want to keep for the long run.
Determine what information is actually critical for decision-making and prioritize this information according to the urgency that comes with needing it.
The degree of urgency can vary from team to team, so thinking now of a way to label it for future use can be beneficial in the steps that follow.
A knowledge audit, sometimes referred to as knowledge identification, revolves around identifying and assessing the knowledge already available within the organization and determining where gaps exist.
Gartner defines a knowledge audit as "a formal determination and assessment of how and where knowledge is used in business processes".
The action steps here are:
- Reviewing what information already exists that addresses the categories you prioritized at that time
- Determining what new data is needed to address the most common questions and knowledge gaps
Knowledge collection, also known as knowledge acquisition, is the second step in the process.
The information captured must be accurate and up to date or it will cause more harm than good for the team.
This phase includes both the collection of useful information from all relevant sources (knowledge discovery) and the creation of new information identified as necessary during the knowledge audit.
For the collected information to be used efficiently in the future, it needs to be curated, evaluated, and organized.
Once knowledge has been captured, it must first be organized in order to store it properly - it has to be classified, categorized, indexed and described. It’s important to keep in mind with this step that the data should be organized based on sound business logic, rather than traditional business silos.
Assessment and verification of knowledge
Stored knowledge should be evaluated to ensure that it is accurate, current, complete, and consistent. Redundant and irrelevant information should be eliminated.
Once you have captured and curated the knowledge, the next step in the process is to make the knowledge available.
This is often referred to as knowledge application. The information should be available to everyone actively seeking the information (pull on demand), but also to everyone who could benefit from it (proactive push).
Knowledge management processes that communicate knowledge will ensure that knowledge does not disappear from the organization's memory.
A comprehensive utilization of knowledge includes answering questions, making decisions, improving processes, and analyzing the knowledge itself.
A good knowledge management system (KMS) helps teams organize and validate knowledge. It’s used to streamline all information found through previous phases and is usually implemented in the form of a software solution that makes the information more structured and searchable.
If you use a KMS to deliver knowledge, there are several things it can provide teams with:
- It can facilitate the delivery of information to the right people at the right time. The KMS can personalize content based on roles, personas, channels, and context.
- Role-based portals make knowledge accessible to different user groups, such as team leaders, knowledge managers, or partners.
- Knowledge can be flagged to ensure it is appropriate for a particular channel or for a particular use.
- Contextual information can be displayed to users so that, for example, new hires receive different information than more experienced members of the team.
A knowledge management system (KMS) that incorporates machine learning, and advanced analytics can help us optimize and provide an additional level of value to our knowledge.
Areas that can be optimized include:
- Recognizing the intentions
If we recognize the intent of the searcher, we can better serve the answers appropriate to their context.
- Knowledge effectiveness
Monitor the effectiveness of information delivery based on feedback and analyze users' trajectories to ensure they receive the most out of the available resources.
- Knowledge scope
Identify knowledge gaps either explicitly (e.g., by asking the user if their problem was solved) or implicitly (e.g., by using knowledge analytics to monitor user behavior)
- Knowledge impact
Knowledge analytics can be used to determine whether the knowledge base covers the most frequently asked questions, as well as the impact of knowledge on key business metrics.
While not all of these steps need to be taken all at once, knowing what the options for enhancing the value of knowledge are, has long-term significance. It can completely transform the way we approach collecting and structuring it from the very beginning and with that, our ability to utilize it.