What is knowledge management (KM)?

Knowledge management is an integrated approach to gathering, using, and distributing knowledge, resources, and information within an organization.

We learn from experience. As we encounter new challenges, our successes and failures improve our ability to face similar challenges in the future. Unfortunately, progress by experience has classically been limited to the individual; we learn from our own experience, and others are forced to do the same. However, knowledge management has the capacity to change all of that.

By creating a single IT system capable of storing and retrieving the collective knowledge and experience of an organization’s workforce, knowledge management shares expertise among employees. This allows for increased efficiency, improved decision making capacity, and faster, more-accurate issue resolution.

Additionally, knowledge management helps foster innovation. With easy access to shared ideas, experiences, and up-to-date information, employees have the resources they need to think outside the box and make important cultural changes to adapt their organization to better address evolving business needs.

Knowledge management may also help decrease employee turnover, by giving employees advanced insight into how to more-effectively do their jobs.

But perhaps most importantly, knowledge management allows businesses to remain competitive. By sharing experience and information through easy-to-use tools, businesses become more flexible and intelligent, better prepared to spot issues easier and innovate more quickly.

Although effective knowledge management may provide significant returns for essentially any organization, often the need for such a system goes unrecognized until necessitated by a specific event or events. This may include:

  • Mergers or acquisitions that prompt the need for codified knowledge and encourage teams to share their expertise.
  • Key employees who retire or leave their position, which provides the opportunity to capture their knowledge to pass on.
  • Upcoming recruitment assists in the training of new employees.

Although there is no standardized procedure for establishing a working knowledge management system, the following steps describe the most common knowledge management process.

Capturing knowledge

Those who answer customer requests create an article as a byproduct of solving the customer issue or inquiry.
Graphic showing the process of knowledge management.

Structuring knowledge

The article is created using a template or form, helping to keep the knowledge base consistent and easy for users to access.

Reusing knowledge

Relevant and related knowledge-base articles can be linked together, allowing users to explore more in-depth solutions.

Improving knowledge

Users regularly review the knowledge as they continue to research articles, providing feedback and allowing on possible improvements for future iterations.

Knowledge management for better employee experiences

Employees are more likely to be retained and happy when they have access to insights and opportunities to share their knowledge to improve the experience of their coworkers. This allows for increased collaboration, faster decision making, and more efficiency within the organization.

KM in the onboarding process

Better onboarding experiences increase retention rates and productivity. Knowledge management is a quick and easy way to improve onboarding and employee knowledge sharing, which helps new employees develop a clear idea of what is expected of them, learn how to best complete assignments, and determine who can help them accomplish what they need to do. A knowledge base speeds up onboarding with a comprehensive systems tour and procedure run-through, which simplifies the process.

KM in the employee journey

The employee journey encompasses every step an employee takes as part of their employment with an organization, from the moment that an employee applies for a job to through the time when they move on to other employment. It identifies moments that matter, which helps with the improvement of the journey. Important moments include their first day at the company, their first performance review, or any promotions they might receive. Knowledge management anticipates the information that employees will need at each stage, reducing friction and helping to keep them motivated and engaged.

Knowledge management systems may take many forms; common examples of knowledge management systems include the following:

Document management

This provides easy access to important company documents. Acting as a centralized repository for files, handbooks, etc., document management systems are designed to make locating and retrieving files as simple as possible. Document management is essentially a digital filing cabinet; it provides storage and accessibility solutions, but will not automatically capture or analyze data on its own.

Content management

Content management systems take document management a step further. In addition to storing and retrieving essential documents, it also encompasses additional media, such as audio, video, and more.

Databases

Using a database, businesses have the opportunity to capture, store, interact with, and analyze data. Databases are usually indexed for increased information accessibility. Often, databases are designed with added security measures to protect the data stored within, but can be costly to design and implement, and may demand increased IT experience to use and maintain.

Data warehouses

Data warehouses turn the magnifying glass back on the organization itself, locating and storing important data from throughout the business for reporting and analysis. In order to do this effectively, they must be thoroughly integrated into all relevant business systems, which makes them a higher-maintenance option than many other forms of knowledge management.

Intranet options

Private computer networks are built on searchable platforms that provide easily-accessible resources for information. This enhances collaboration and networking within an enterprise.

Social networks

Taking their cues from facebook and other successful social-networking sites, these options provide users with the opportunity to connect with others, contribute information, join groups, and discuss issues of interest.

Wikis

Collaboration tools that take the form of online, open-source encyclopedias, wikis allow essentially anyone with authorized access to edit and improve upon the knowledge base articles contained within. Wikis are effective for handling business document maintenance and product catalogues, but may be difficult when it comes to ensuring accuracy.

The inefficient tools of yesterday just aren’t capable of keeping up with the needs of modern business organizations. Email, spreadsheets, documents and other disparate information formats end up scattered across company infrastructure, making information retrieval a frustrating and time-consuming task. ServiceNow brings all relevant information and knowledge sources together, with powerful Case and Knowledge Management.

Standardize documentation across your organization. Improve the employee experience and accelerate service delivery with a complete service catalog. Incorporate advanced automated workflows and AI-backed predictive intelligence to prefilter relevant content and ensure that the right people are getting the right information, at the right time. ServiceNow Case and Knowledge Management has all you need to manage your organization’s knowledge and help your employees enjoy their experience, while expanding their expertise and company understanding. With ServiceNow, relevant, accurate, and consistent information is only a click away.

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