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Tips for communicating the launch of a Knowledge Management system

1 November 2010
A person typing on a computer

We are all familiar with the sense of satisfaction derived from launching an organizational Knowledge Management system. After many months of meticulous charting and editing, developing designated applications and stringent quality control, it's finally arrived: launching time. Many organizations set up festive launching events, invest thought and money in branded souvenirs and marketing/advertisement accessories that may catch the eye and hopefully encourage customers to use the system. Occasionally, the large investment leads to an unfortunate loss of focused, effective communication. This communication can help users understand the advantages this system offers them and leave a mark that will outlive the effect of any launch video, as impressive as it might be.

This article will present some tips for optimally communicating a new KM application.

Tips regarding the KM application:

  1. Focusing on the central scenario usages: the new system surely includes many properties. However, when communicating the new system, it is important to focus on the functions and properties that will provide the highest added value for users. These can be emphasized via marketing aids (user manuals, pagelets, etc.) before and during the implementation process.Note: although it is tempting to display the entire palette of your system's abilities, focus on a limited package of properties and market them so that users do not experience a sense of overload and lack of focus.

  2. Presenting the competitive edge: know what is your system's unique advantage that you wish to implement and present it to users. This advantage is what distinguishes you from the alternative systems. Choosing to shift to your systems means altering users' work habits and routines. To encourage this change, you must convey to users what they gain from using this system. Do not rely on users discovering the system's advantages on their own; encourage them to try it out and refer them to its advantages and benefits.

  3. Adjusting expectations: most systems are based on needs. Workers' needs, management's needs, etc. When implementing a system, it is important to generate realistic expectations regarding the system's ability and objectives which it must display- no system, as amazing as it might be, can solve all challenges workers or management are currently facing. This is simply impossible. It is therefore better to avoid making promises you might not be able to keep. For example, a system that will answer all questions a worker might face is a matter of fantasy and it is irresponsible to suggest that your system fulfills it. Systems are usually launched gradually; the first stage does not include all required information. Unadjusted expectations can lead to dissatisfaction on behalf of the users, which in turn may lead to users being disappointed from the system's content and will not give it another chance.

  4. Phrasing a communication message: phrase a communication message that is as focused and specific as possible; generally phrased messages might make users feel that the system isn't designed for them. Incorporate functional information, screenshots and access to the content area and/or links to specific pages.

  5. Despite the great temptation to phrase your communication title as a question ("do you want to save hundreds of dollars?") motivating action, we must remember that this is a serious business organization; your system was designed to answer business needs. Enhance your users' sense of confidence in the system's relevance. Describe the benefits of using this system and direct them to use the system optimally.

  6. Content: every amateur journalist knows that a business notice must include the five W's: what, why, who, when and where. When the notice includes answers to all these questions, the readers receive all the information they need: what it is, when and where is it going to take place and finally, whether and why is might it be relevant to them. Remember to address these questions when communicating.

Tips regarding the implementation process

  1. Adapt the implementation process to users' operation patterns, so that you attain optimal exposure. The objective is to communicate the information when the worker is available and free to listen to these sort of issues (mornings before work commences or during the afternoon when the load decreases. Communicating during these hours allows users to actively participate in implementation undistracted).

  2. Another way to go is using existing organizational systems as implementation tools. The communication method depends on your creativity and (obviously) the resources at the dispense of your organization. You can, however, use the organization's existing websites as a launching platform for your new system. For example, you can use the organizational portal's frequently-viewed pages as a tool for communicating the entire new system or designated applications. It is preferable to communicate this information on the most frequently viewed pages, pages that we know users view, such as a page that displays search results or a page that displays welfare suggestions, etc.

  3. Encourage feedback: create a comprehensible and comfortable feature through which users can respond to the implementation process and the new system. This is the quickest and cheapest way to find out what the field thinks and improve the system. It is important to address every comment with full respect and make the user that sent it feel that their opinion is significant. While it is totally legitimate not to accept all offers, do not dismiss other opinions that may arise.

  4. To improve the implementation and learn from it, remain attentive to any voice heard from the field and review whether the implementation process is producing the results you expected. If necessary, change and adjust the process to current settings.

  5. Take a deep breath: optimal implementation takes time and improves as time goes by. Consider that implementation goals will not be immediately reached; try starting with generating a sense of something meaningful happening by raising awareness to the new system.

You've invested so much in setting up and implementing this system; however, this is really just the beginning. Keep on developing the system according to the needs the field raises, study the technological innovations and leading trends in today's market, thus improving the solutions you offer users.

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