Knowledge management (KM) is put to great use across a number of public, private and third sector organisations. Yet many professionals still struggle to pin down exactly what we mean by “institutional memory loss” or the main reasons a workforce may even put a knowledge management strategy in place.
Read our list of the top 5 benefits of developing a KM strategy below, so whether you consider yourself to be a bit of a guru or a total beginner (knowledge-what?) you can recognise how effectively utilising key information can be beneficial to the success of your organisation.
1. Reduce the costs of repeating work
Let’s say a department at your organisation encounters a problem. Said department then work together and overcome it.
Do they: A) keep this to themselves or B) share their success with the other divisions in your organisation? The latter isn't bragging! If one division can learn from another they avoid repeating the same mistakes, not to mention that this can save your organisation considerable unnecessary costs.
Yet it is only with proper KM processes in place that this knowledge can be effectively shared, retained and ultimately have a measurable impact.
2. Provide faster solutions (and save the newbie)
When the knowledge of more experienced team members is not properly shared with new employees, they can lose valuable time seeking solutions to the same problems their predecessors first encountered.
We are not just talking about having basic training in place to combat this. It is the truly embedded and easily accessed organisational knowledge, which can continue to benefit new members of the team and ensure better decision making capabilities overall.
3. Employees will leave, but their memory doesn’t have to
When an experienced colleague retires or moves on it is often a sad occasion. Yes you will wish them well and sign the giant card, but losing a valuable member of the team can be hard (and let’s face it, bothersome).
To rub salt into the wound, when they leave they are also taking an integral part of your organisation’s memory with them – or are they?
By properly preserving and distributing the knowledge of leaving employees, you can ensure that their insights positively impact your organisation even once they are gone.
4. Ensure awareness and achievement of objectives
You go to work, you complete your daily tasks, you go home – but how does each thing you do relate to your organisation's objectives overall?
If you or your subordinates don't know the answer to this question, it can be problematic to say the least. Employees who are unaware of their organisation's aims are unable to complete work with them in mind, unlikely to make appropriate long-term plans, and may even become disengaged as a result.
The good news is that with a strategic approach to knowledge management, employees know what is expected of them in relation to what is going on at their organisation and can better meet their targets. What’s more, an inclusive approach to knowledge makes for a more engaged workforce, again leading to enhanced individual and organisational performance – and who doesn’t want that?
5. Stay innovative
IKM founder, Larry Prusak, claims “you can’t manage knowledge – nobody can. What you can do, what a company does, is to manage the environment that optimises knowledge”.
But sometimes you are so close to a situation that you can't even see the whole thing clearly (far less look to transform it).
However, by stepping back from your immediate environment and applying KM strategies, it is possible to identify the enablers and blockages to the flow of knowledge into your workplace. This enables you to flush out the inhibitors, stimulate fresh ideas and ensure that you can provide the best possible, cutting-edge services.
Honourable mentions: other happy outcomes of knowledge management strategies include preventing risks to reputation from under-performance associated with failing to optimise knowledge, and attracting a talented workforce by securing an environment of constant development and improvement.
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