Knowledge management system or KM is a system which involves organising the information and knowledge that a company has. It often includes sharing, gathering, administering and developing of the information which the organisation owns. It’s done in such a way so that the company can make the best use of that knowledge and information.
The concept of knowledge management is an asset for any company and it has to be used effectively if you want positive changes and profitability to the company. Some of the assets in knowledge possessed by the company are reports, documents, files, reports, financial statements, policies, experience of the employees, procedures and so on.
The concept is mainly focused on the use of the important objectives of a business which includes innovation, gaining the competitive edge, change, and better performance. It also involves using and sharing knowledge throughout the entire company.
However, most organisations don’t have the strategies or plans to implement or use knowledge management for their own benefit. This is important for all companies, even if they are small scale that may not consider information crucial, and that may not devote enough time and resources to the gathering and use of information.
The History of Knowledge Management
Two decades ago, the Knowledge management concept first appeared when it was in the form of discussion forums, libraries and discussions on the job. It was also in training programmes and mentoring sessions as well. But as the technology advanced, computer systems became more and more common and widely used, there have been some changes to the Knowledge management system. In the year 1999, the term personal knowledge management was first coined and it focused on knowledge management on a more personal level.
Later, the importance of this concept went even further and experts pressed that it was of crucial importance that companies accept it and start implementing it in their companies. Businesses started realising that it was important and that it can help them drive cultural change and speed up all of the processes, which meant that they would learn more and make use of that. It’s a known fact that knowledge management can help companies and offer numerous benefits.
Knowledge Management Systems
A knowledge management system is used for application and use of knowledge management in an organisation. This system is just a part of the concept but it’s a crucial part. There are many types of systems and the main purpose of them is storing and retrieving important information. They also serve the purpose of collaboration of information and so on.
It can enable your business to make better decisions but it’s not similar to business intelligence at all. On one hand, Business Intelligence has a focus on explicit knowledge, the Knowledge management system includes both explicit and implicit knowledge. The term knowledge management system is mostly used as a reference to IT systems which are used like software modules linked to user interface. It can help you train staff and promote sales.
Here are some of the categories of knowledge management systems.
- Semantic networks
- Groupware system and KM 2.0
- Content management systems
- Simulation tools
- Internet and extra-net
- AI tools
- Data warehouses, mining and OLAP
- Decision support systems
Why are Knowledge Management Systems Important?
Every day, your business gets a lot of information and data. Some of it may not be important at all while some may be crucial to the success of your company. This type of data or information can be used to make critical decisions and enable employees to improve their skills. It’s very important to store information and make it easily accessible for future use. This is where knowledge management systems come in place and they offer many benefits. They can enable you to store the data and manage it as well as distribute it.
Here are some points of importance of the systems:
- It creates learning-based organisations
- It makes room for innovation and changes
- It makes space for better decision making in the company
Implementation of the Knowledge Management Systems
Now that you know what knowledge management systems are and why knowledge management is so important, you can implement these systems in your workplace as well. Without the application of knowledge management systems, your organisation may be wasting time and resources.
Thanks to the technological advancements and availability of the networking, your organisation can have an opportunity to gather, distribute and store as well as use the knowledge. There are many products, procedures and processes that enable this implementation.
Here are some steps you can take to implement knowledge management:
Identification of issues. The first step is to identify the issues that the business has by analysing the company from the inside. Unless you have an idea of what the problems are, you won’t be able to align your knowledge management systems. So, you have to try to evaluate the variety and quantity of information which the business has and what it has stored in databases, on the web and so on. You also have to figure out which employees possess enough personal knowledge and experiences. You have to conduct some cost-benefit analysis and evaluate the complexity of system structures.
Prepare for the transition. When you have your problem areas identified, you can move on to prepare yourself and the entire workplace for the transition. Application and implementation of the knowledge management systems has to deal with changes in the culture of the workplace and the technology. Your employees may try to resist the change and to avoid this you need to be smart with your approaches.
Bring gradual changes and give yourself and your employees time to get used to the new KM systems and provide proper training for the new systems. Make sure that this is dealt with with patience and understanding. Most people resist change on instinct – people don’t like change much. Especially so because they have to share their knowledge and experience with others. But, each employee wants things to be easier on them. So, you must explain it to them in a way that emphasises how much better it will be for them with the new system.
Get a dedicated team. To make all of this easier, you have to have a strong team with a good team leader. You can’t execute this without having someone in charge and you can’t lead the thing on your own. So, you have to get a dedicated team which will streamline the implementation and get a great approach in this subject. You have to make a team with a wide array of expertise and experience. The team leader has to have strong leader and project management skills, experience, knowledge, and top level people skills as well. They have to have good leadership qualities and understand the importance of knowledge management. The team must create a detailed plan before you start with your process of implementing a company-wide KM system.
Evaluate the technology. The next logical step is to evaluate and assess the technology needs of your company. You have to figure out the sources of knowledge which are necessary to solve business problems. It’s imperative to understand the potential costs of the project that would be required. Evaluate what is necessary against what you currently have and don’t purchase the expensive technology if you haven’t discussed it with a team of concerned people. “When you make the decision of purchasing and implementing the technology, you have to determine the best sources of that technology and compare all of the aspects,” says Laslo Beans, a digital marketer at OXEssays and PaperFellows.
Determine the major factors of knowledge management systems. The next step is determining the major aspects of the knowledge management systems. You will need to define the features and create a checklist to make sure that the technology will be able to address the problems that your business faces. This will affect your overall profitability too.
Some of the key features are:
- Open system which enables easy access
- Distributed system which has components well distributed across servers
- Measurable because it has to measure who can access which information from which location
- Customisation because it needs to be flexible for usability
- Secure because there are threats of loss of information
The building components. The implementation process of the knowledge management systems has to come in phases to ensure that the project can be divided into smaller goals to ease out of the procedure and make it simple and easy, as well as more efficient.
Here are some of the building components of the successful implementation of the knowledge management systems:
- Phase one which means that you will search for text-based data sources to get advanced information with the goal of improving the ROI
- Phase two is the phase that requires knowledge mining software as the technology is the important step that can improve the process of finding useful knowledge
- Phase three is the automated categorisation tools which can be used to reach the goal of speeding up the process of categorising knowledge and improving the accuracy
- Phase four which means rolling out of the knowledge warehouses, and then improving the functionality, security, performance and so on
- Phase five which involves allowing users to add their knowledge to the warehouses and welcome contribution that can expand the database of information
- Phase six which includes pre-building of knowledge maps
- Phase seven which involves execution of knowledge directory software to locate the people that possess the required knowledge
Link knowledge to people. When your company is faced with business problems, then the knowledge databases can help. These are not just for records and reports of existing information but for solutions from employees that can be used by employees. In this case, find out who has the knowledge that can help and this can be time-consuming if you do it without the KM systems. So, link knowledge to people so your company can advance without being stumped by simple parts. There are two ways to do this and here they are:
- A knowledge directory which can help employees find out experts within the organisation so that they can share the knowledge with them. “The directory can act as a platform that can help your user find a list of experts who are the most capable of solving a certain problem. The link between people and knowledge makes management different from other applications which manages explicit knowledge,” says Elisabeth Browns, a marketing manager at Essay Help and Boomessays.
- Content management which can also be a crucial part of the knowledge management systems and is another way to link people with knowledge. You have to hire content managers and use the ones that will be responsible for gathering the information and editing it as well as updating and ensuring that it’s accurate. Maintenance of content is crucial and it can prove to be very valuable if the information is needed by an employee.
Launch the KM System. With the help of funding in sufficient amounts, as well as resources, the implementation of knowledge management systems can be achieved. Now that you have your goals and that you have addressed the cultural issues and met the needs in the technology area, you can launch the programme and make sure that it’s working properly within your company. When the programme is launched, you can come across some problems and issues but these can be addressed and solved as you move forward.
Measure and improvement. After launching and implementing the knowledge management system, you will come to know where the issues, problems and gaps are. Thus, you will be able to formulate ways to measure it and then fill the gaps where the system is lacking. You can then compare the new results with the old ones and measure that difference. See how much your performance was improved and whether you have to do a bit more to make it work perfectly. However, keep in mind that your knowledge management system will need constant improvement and updating.