Oh no, it’s happened again.
You’re at your desk at work, trying to remember how to log on to a shared company account. Where did you put that sticky note with the info? (Who knows!) It’s gone now, and you’re about to spend too much time asking your coworkers only to find they don’t remember it either.
We’ve all been there.
With ever-changing policies, processes and regulations, remembering the details of a job is a challenge in its own right.
For a business, it’s imperative to archive the collective knowledge of your workforce. This cuts down on time wasted by employees looking for information and following old protocols.
This is where effective knowledge management comes in, and traditional knowledge management software is only a piece of a larger system.
What is knowledge management?
Professionals have been studying the subject of knowledge management as we know it today for 30 years. As organizations ballooned and global corporations became more commonplace, keeping employees informed became a challenge.
Experts began exploring the methods and channels through which employees traded information at work. These methods tended to be unorganized and informal. This meant there were few quality checks or updates unless managers addressed the matter formally.
They found that companies needed a way to collect and process information on a shared platform.
This collection of methods and tools for information collection and curation became the field of knowledge management.
Knowledge management definition
Knowledge management (KM) is the process of capturing, storing, sharing, and managing knowledge and information for an organization.
Today, knowledge management refers to all the tools and processes used by a company to organize both internal and external information concerning their product, brand and procedures.
What are knowledge management systems?
Knowledge management systems (KMS) consist of all the software tools that assist in collecting and managing knowledge in a business. While there are products marketed as standalone knowledge management solutions, there are multiple systems involved in the process.
These tools include:
- Groupware (communication and collaboration software)
- Content management systems (CMS)
- Corporate learning management systems (LMS)
- Employee intranet software
- Data warehouses
- AI assistants
If this list seems broad to you, you’re definitely not wrong thinking so. The nature of knowledge management systems is such that any software solution capable of transmitting information can be considered part of the KMS stack.
This list is by no means exhaustive. Many other software types also fall under the umbrella of knowledge management systems.
Defining knowledge management systems can be difficult. While most experts agree that the term can include many types of tools, they disagree on where exactly to draw the lines.
However, the broad consensus is that any tool that assists in the gathering, discussion, storage or distribution of knowledge can be considered a knowledge management system that enhances the larger KM process.
Any tool that helps bring up necessary information can be considered part of a business’ knowledge management system. For this reason, it’s easier to think of a KMS as a stack rather than a singular product.
Implementing effective knowledge management
Just owning the tools above isn’t going to guarantee a company effective knowledge management. Organizations have to take extra measures to ensure tools are utilized properly and often for a thriving, constructive KMS.
Many employees may think the workflow involved in KM are too time-consuming. One of the key aspects of creating a potent KMS is to instill a culture where knowledge sharing is prioritized. Managers should aim to fit knowledge collection tasks into existing workflows.
Once these measures are in place, employees will change the way they approach knowledge management and see the benefits of these tools.
Trying to be more efficient with your time? Check out our guide on time management.