Knowledge Management Methodologies
By: Elad Bashi, KM Lighthouse

The title of this article might seem intimidating at first sight.  I assure you, despite the grandiose phrasing the matter at hand is quite simple.

In order to plan and implement a Knowledge Management methodology, we must be acquainted with the various components of our array:

  • Users
  • Information/content
  • A system to hold said information
  • Processes in the organization that support constant flow of information.

 

Each component supports another, while being supported by yet another component. Users consume information/content which is stored in the KM system. The KM system, in turn, is maintained by the content managers who depend on organizational business processes. Organizational processes support constant transfer of new information. Furthermore, system users provide feedback that enables its optimization.

Every organization is interested in its customers receiving quick, professional, uniform and reliable service.  Every organization offering a product and/or service is interested in increasing its sales potential with each encounter with a customer. The various methodologies provide us with the tools to attain our ultimate goal: providing users with the tools for performing their job most efficiently without depending on other professional parties in their organization.

Who will use the information?

We must meet our users and understand their need. We must understand what data they require and what form will be best understood in terms of phrasing, presentation and data search method.

For example, I wouldn't present representatives of a debt collection team tutorials on device operation. I would equally refrain from providing a technical support team with articles on debt collection processes (unless this issue is somehow their responsibility as well).

 

How should we write the information?

When writing information, we must stick to the following rules:

  • Each information item should be appointed a unique title which reveals its exact content. The item templates should suit the type of information they hold. Each item should be comprised uniquely. Users entering the item should know where to find the required piece of data.
  • Stick to the point and refrain from redundancy and repetitiveness.
  • Short segments are best. You cannot finish an entire meal in one bite, and you cannot continuously read entire pages of information. It's preferable to separate long texts into paragraphs, each consisting of five sentences.
  • Stick to positive phrasing that suits your users that is neither 'street' nor 'academic' lingo.

 

The importance of processes

Every organization has its processes and procedures. When introducing a Knowledge Management system to the organization, it must implement intra-organizational processes to transfer the relevant information to those maintaining the organizational knowledge held in the system. This knowledge can then be edited and pushed to edge users.

For example, the marketing department comes out with a new campaign. Prior to publishing it, part of the process involves transferring the data in a certain format to the knowledge managers that pushed to edge users. Without such a process, the campaign will be uploaded, and edge users will be approached by customers exposed to the campaign. Without the required data, they will be perceived as unprofessional.

What must a Knowledge Management system contain?

I believe that the term 'solution' perfectly sums up the essence of a Knowledge Management system. A KM system provides us with solutions for a certain need. The more it contains functionalities that benefit the users the better this solution suits said users.

Our solution will contain different functionalities according to our needs, such as:

  • Intuitive advanced search
  • User interfaces
  • Cataloging the organization's knowledge items by content categories
  • Search engine filters
  • Item comparison
  • Favorite items
  • Feedback
  • Forums
  • Tests and surveys
  • Integration with additional systems

 

Implementing the system

The usual reaction to anyone initiating the "new KM system" conversation is invariably "not another system!". indeed, we live in a system-filed environment. So, how can we convince our users that our new tool is nevertheless desirable?

  1. Involve management: informing users about the new system and its importance via management. Management should support, not provide answers instead of using the system.
  2. Preliminary publicity: at least once a month prior to the system's launch, begin hinting at an organizational change and flooding the organization with teasers.
  3. Involving edge users in decision making let your users suggest names for the system. by participating, they will connect to the system even before its launching.
  4. Discuss efficiency: if some data is difficult to locate, notify your users that this data is available via the new system. Reduce the time invested in training new workers, professional consultancy and handling customer queries. Provide constant updates.
  5. Games and competitions: a treasure hunt in which the clues are hidden in various items in the system and lead users to the treasure. Trivia questions with answers hidden in the system. Effective feedback competition: which feedback has contributed most? Announce the winner to all users. An item viewing and using competition.
  6. Ambassadors: each unit must appoint representatives to connect the fields with the system. these representatives are responsible for transferring the information (what to obtain, what to retain and what to improve) to edge users, system managers and content mangers.

I wish to further clarify that each organization is a unique entity in its nature as well as the nature of its users and customers. Organizations also differ in the type of information they handle, the solutions they select and their implementation methods. Nevertheless, we must realize that there are no shortcuts. We may set up an elaborate system with an advanced search engine. This system will remain unused and redundant if we write the content in a manner that doesn't allow users to understand content. What good is a system that isn’t coupled with processes to regularly receive new information? Without these components, the system will be merely a "white elephant" in the room that is your organization.

 

 

 

 
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