Modern businesses rely heavily on the experience and expertise of their employees to drive company success. When employees have access to the information, knowledge, and subject matter experts they need, they are more effective.
However, traditional knowledge management and knowledge-sharing approaches have not been optimized for the modern digital workplace. They only scratch the surface of what your organization actually knows, with only 20% of an organization's knowledge being documented. Employees are wasting too much time searching for information, they don't know who to ask when they can't find an answer, and they are often left without a resolution to their problem. This is why it's imperative that organizations prioritize introducing an efficient and reliable knowledge management system, to boost engagement and take advantage of one of their most valuable intangible assets - employee knowledge and experience.
What Is a Knowledge Management System?
Traditionally, a knowledge management system is a technology or platform used in tandem with people and processes to collect and store information in a central location. These systems are in place to make accessing information, staying informed, and sharing information and knowledge easy. The right knowledge management system allows a business to keep reliable information and knowledge circulating.
Modern knowledge management systems are no longer rigid. With powerful AI technology, current systems should be flexible and evolve with your company to reflect your organizational knowledge in real-time, with minimal maintenance.
These systems are no longer just a stand-alone platform or technology. They integrate with your existing tech stack and pull data from multiple sources to make connections and provide immediate access to existing information. Publicly shared information only accessible within certain applications can now break through digital silos. Data in shared Slack groups, knowledge repositories or other systems used to share information with colleagues can, and should, feed into the organizational knowledge available to all employees in real-time and identify the knowledge holder of a topic at any particular point in time. The time of data silos is over - knowledge should be accessible to everyone at all levels, regardless of a person's department, title, and location.
Additionally, a knowledge management system should promote employee engagement and facilitate knowledge sharing and collaboration experiences. It's essential that they connect your organization and provide a more personalized experience for employees within the digital workplace.
Benefits of a Knowledge Management System
Magic happens when a knowledge management system is optimized and connects the whole organization. A company becomes more productive, communication is streamlined, employees are empowered to make better decisions, there's an acceleration in learning and developing employees, and information that was once hard to come by is now available at any given point in time.
Here, we dive deeper into the added benefits of a knowledge management system and why it's worthwhile for organizations to implement one or consider an update.
In a recent study, 45% of employees say they spend too much time searching for relevant and up-to-date information.
A knowledge management system can provide support for accessing reliable information faster. Instead of looking for information scattered across multiple tools and folders, employees will have a go-to location to access the business's organizational knowledge. The right system can reduce employees' time searching for answers by 75%. When employees have access to more knowledge, they can do and achieve more.
However, it's more than just boosting the productivity of your organization. It's about removing existing challenges around searching for information and empowering employees to be productive. When employees can complete more projects and tasks, they feel accomplished and have a sense of relief.
In the digital workplace, we use dozens of tools to communicate and collaborate with our team and colleagues. But with an increase in hybrid and remote work, the network of people you work and collaborate with actually shrinks, limiting the amount of knowledge at your disposal.
A modern knowledge management system should streamline and promote cross-functional collaboration. When employees and teams have access to the subject matter experts (colleagues) within the organization who are able to assist with a quick and reliable answer, innovation increases.
A system that offers a Q&A feature is an effective way to streamline collaboration. It captures answers to frequently asked questions and keeps them updated while empowering employees with on-demand information and minimizing the time subject matter experts spend on answering redundant questions.
For information not yet available in the system, employees can publish their questions across the entire organization to get the best answer. Without the Q&A component, employees waste time looking for the right person, are limited to their immediate network, and end up with a mediocre or faulty solution.
Even with all the information necessary, decision-making is challenging. But, what happens when employees can't get the information, knowledge, or expertise to solve business problems? What happens when you add a fast-approaching deadline to that? Well, 29% feel they make compromised decisions based on assumptions.
With access to more relevant information, employees can make better-informed decisions. The right knowledge management system allows users to source the knowledge needed on-demand.
But what if the information sought after doesn't exist in the system? Just because it's not currently available doesn't mean it's nonexistent within your organization. A knowledge management system should make it easy to source the information and find the knowledge holder or best subject matter expert who can help.
A modern knowledge management system can source and facilitate the exchange of tacit knowledge to better leverage employee expertise and experience, to improve decision making.
Onboarding new employees can be a daunting task. An employee-focused knowledge management system makes training easier. When new employees are encouraged to use a knowledge system to seek knowledge, they are no longer limited to the HR team or their manager to get them up to speed. They can move at their own pace and can learn as much as they want during their onboarding phase.
Promotes Learning & Development
Employee learning and development should never stop. Employees benefit from a knowledge management system because they have access to on-demand educational materials across the organization. They can enhance their knowledge and pursue further development of their skills on their own. Evidence proves that when employees are empowered to self-manage with the support of technology, they find their work more engaging.
Plus, the more knowledge your employees retain, the better off your organization will be too!
It is always hard to see an employee leave. It's not just an empty desk or office left behind. When they exit your organization, they take the expertise and knowledge they've acquired and accumulated over the years with them. It stings a little more when you also consider the time and resources spent on each individual.
It's inevitable. Even companies with the best retention experience employee turnover.
However, knowledge management systems can prevent knowledge loss as employees depart, ensuring expert knowledge stays within your business. While a colleague may leave for their next challenge, remaining or new employees can still access the expertise and experience of some of the organization's most knowledgeable workers - past or present.
Modern businesses rely heavily on their employees' knowledge, experience, and expertise. To work effectively, employees need access to the information within their company. Organizations can benefit by implementing a knowledge management system that allows employees to access a company's complete knowledge and expertise. When a modern solution is optimized for a digital workplace, companies are more effective, so are their employees, and multiple business areas improve.
On the other hand, not taking action can pose a major business risk. A disconnected organization is subject to losing talent due to not fostering growth, progress, and innovation. An organization discounting the incredible amount of knowledge available will outsource business challenges to external solution providers rather than managing them internally. An organization where knowledge exchange is limited also prevents employees from having those "aha" moments from a cross-functional collaboration. Lastly, an organization with barriers to knowledge collaboration will most likely have trouble keeping up with the competition - productivity and innovation are contingent on knowledge sharing.