Businesses are right when they see the vast potential of a knowledge management system in boosting employee productivity, aligning different teams, and elevating customer experience (CX), only to name a few benefits.
However, the benefits of a knowledge management (KM) solution depend entirely on its implementation, which is a tedious process.
The blog discusses the fundamentals of a knowledge management program and the steps organizations need to take to reap the full benefits of their KM solution.
Table of contents
- What are the components of a knowledge management program?
- 9 Steps to implement the knowledge management program
- 1. Set clear goals and expectations
- 2. Create a phase-wise strategy to adopt the knowledge management platform
- 3. Assign the right roles to the right people
- 4. Build a content creation framework
- 5. Customize the platform
- 6. Ease internal teams into using the KM platform
- 7. Conduct practice runs and identify potential loopholes
- 8. Measure success
- 9. Keep improving for sustainable success
- Summing up
What are the components of a knowledge management program?
There are majorly four components needed to implement a knowledge management program:
An organization needs people at every stage of its knowledge management program implementation. The contribution of senior leaders, product owners, content creators, trainers, employees, etc., is necessary to execute the knowledge management plan effectively.
The process involves capturing, storing, managing, and distributing knowledge across the organization. The success of a knowledge management program is directly proportional to the process efficiency at leveraging organizational knowledge to create better experiences for employees and customers.
Content involves documenting information about products and services, best practices, troubleshooting guides, user manuals, etc., in easily consumable formats. Employees use content irrespective of the existence of knowledge management platforms.
However, a successful knowledge management program ensures that everyone in the organization uses a single source of truth for accessing knowledge.
A well-planned business strategy is crucial to executing the knowledge management plan. The strategy involves a deep understanding of KM’s role in daily business operations, its challenges, solutions, and alignment of resources to achieve the estimated ROI of the knowledge management system.
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9 Steps to implement the knowledge management program
Implementation is challenging, but when done rightly, its benefits both in the short and long run. Here are the steps that will help organizations implement the knowledge management program:
1. Set clear goals and expectations
Goal setting is the first step to correctly approaching the knowledge management program implementation. It is crucial to begin with an elaborate list of all the existing knowledge management challenges in the organization that led to the need for a KM platform.
Listing down the challenges will help identify the solutions the new KM platform is expected to achieve. Once the challenges and potential solutions have been documented, the next step is to analyze how the KM technology will help fill the gaps and achieve success.
Based on the gap analysis report, set clear goals and expectations. Your goals should be SMART– specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound.
As Knowledge management is an ongoing practice, it is natural that an organization’s goals and expectations change over time. But the clarity of goals and expectations will help inculcate a strong knowledge-sharing culture in the organization.
2. Create a phase-wise strategy to adopt the knowledge management platform
A 5D Framework is a linear approach to implementing a knowledge management program phase-wise. The approach can be used by organizations adopting KM for the first time and those planning to optimize their KM implementation.
- Diagnose: Make a list of all the pain points the individuals, teams, and departments face in accessing knowledge. Find out why knowledge is unavailable and diagnose the root cause of data silos in the organization.
- Define: Define the focus groups that will fill the knowledge gaps with the right content and the functions of the KM platform. Assign users at this stage for each role, clearly define the objectives of the KM platform, and define their roles and responsibilities in actualizing these goals.
- Design: Visualize an ideal knowledge management system, customize it to match your brand identity, and amalgamate it with current business tools and processes.
- Develop a knowledge-sharing culture in the organization and build a knowledge base. Train internal teams to use the platform, and share knowledge with team members and the organization.
- Deploy: In this stage, execute the knowledge management program phase-wise and look for gaps in the knowledge base. Train employees, take their feedback, and get everyone up to speed.
3. Assign the right roles to the right people
At every phase of implementing a knowledge management program, putting the right people in the right place is crucial. A team of experts should be created to own the platform’s responsibilities ranging from owning the platform to creating content, training users, fixing technical bugs, and communicating the technology change across the organization.
To begin with, assign a KM owner who will own the platform end-to-end, from creating content to adopting the platform. The KM owner builds the platform, assigns tasks, manages it, and acts as a point of contact for everything related to it.
Depending upon the scale of the KMS, a knowledge owner can be a single person or a team of experts. The knowledge owner(s) select knowledge creators who should essentially be the best performing and knowledgeable employees from each department to own content creation on the platform.
While building a team of knowledgeable experts, do not miss out on your best-performing agents, as they are on the front lines of customer service and have the potential to contribute extensively to build valuable content.
4. Build a content creation framework
Content is a make-or-break deal for the success of a knowledge management program. Before creating content on the platform, a framework should be built to ensure the content’s readability, searchability, and relevance. The content creation framework should constitute the following steps:
- Gathering existing content from disparate files and formats and organizing it under a single source of truth.
- Organizing each content piece in a suitable format to ensure its comprehension and usability for the end user. With AI-powered knowledge management software like Knowmax, the AI capabilities suggest relevant content formats for files uploaded on the platform. For example, a file in Q&A format automatically converts into FAQ. The AI content migration engine helps in faster and more efficient platform adoption.
- Ensuring content is engaging by adding relevant visuals like videos, screenshots, GIFs, etc. Adding visual simulators help support teams deliver immersive customer experiences.
- Adding the right categories and subcategories for each knowledge piece ensures users can easily navigate the knowledge base. Adding keywords keeping in mind the vocabulary end users use to search content.
- Regularly updating the content to keep the knowledge base relevant for end users.
5. Customize the platform
Customizing the KM platform to match your brand identity is critical as it helps employees relate to the platform and adapt faster. Add the brand logo to the platform and use brand colors throughout the platform.
Integrate the KM platform with other customer service tools to deliver superior customer experiences. With a knowledge management platform like Knowmax, based on customer support reps’ usage of content modules, the agent dashboard reflects the average use of each content piece, top searched queries, and the queries marked as favorites by agents.
Other widgets like banners, notification bars, and tickers can be used to share announcements, send notifications and run quick alerts for employees across departments.
6. Ease internal teams into using the KM platform
The final success of the knowledge management program depends on employees who will use the platform regularly. To ease internal teams into using the platform, it is essential to:
Communicate the objectives of the KM platform: When everyone in the organization, from top management down to every employee, is aligned on the goals of the KM solution, everyone will use the platform to its maximum potential. Transparency in adopting the KM platform is critical for a successful knowledge management program implementation.
Train employees: The resistance towards new technology is natural. Training employees is essential for platform adoption and to ensure that employees use every function of the KM platform.
Listen to feedback: Being open to feedback from employees who are enthusiastic about the change, as well as those who resist it, is essential to improve the knowledge management implementation strategy. Even after complete platform adoption, taking feedback from internal teams is necessary for the purpose and benefits of the KM platform.
7. Conduct practice runs and identify potential loopholes
Once the KM platform is ready for use, launch it internally for use by employees already associated with the platform adoption and include those who will help identify the glitches.
Set a time for employees to test the platform and identify loopholes from all fronts, like technology, content, strategy, etc.
Identifying the loopholes early will help prepare for future challenges. It is also essential to identify potential challenges that might erupt in the future and work toward them. Regular practice runs, open space for Q&A sessions, and feedback sessions will ensure faster and long-term benefits of the information management system.
8. Measure success
Measuring success is the most critical part of a knowledge management program. Identify clear metrics, both quantitative and qualitative, to track the progress brought about by the KM platform.
Qualitative metrics to measure the KM platform’s success include:
- Improved retention of intellectual property
- Elimination of data silos
- Improved knowledge sharing
- Enhanced customer satisfaction
Measuring success will help identify the gaps between the goals and actual results. If there are differences in the actual goals, find out the pitfalls across the different phases of an implementation strategy. This will help set new goals and achieve greater success in the long run.
9. Keep improving for sustainable success
Conduct continuous training and communication sessions with teams to ensure the KM platform is used to its maximum potential.
Keep up with the industry trends and provide regular content reviews to keep the knowledge base relevant. Continuing with the basic implementation process and drawing upon new goals will result in employees seeing knowledge management as a culture and practice and not only as a technology solution.
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Implementing a knowledge management platform requires substantial time, money, and effort. But the rewards of a KM platform outweigh the challenges of implementation.
Rightly implementing the knowledge management program yields benefits at each phase of the implementation and ensures sustainable business growth in the long run.