Knowledge Management 101: What is a Knowledge Management Strategy?

Andy Cook
January 8, 2022

Knowledge management is a hugely important task that delves deep into every aspect of an organization, in order to capture the institutional and practical knowledge that gives it an edge over its competitors. 

And just like any major project, it requires a sound and effective strategy.

What is a Knowledge Management Strategy?

A knowledge management strategy is the framework by which the knowledge base will be built, from initial concept to company-wide execution. In essence, it is the roadmap that outlines the goals and how to achieve them, and which aligns everyone to the task at hand.

The KM strategy is a critical part of the knowledge management process; indeed, it is the cornerstone on which the entire process rests. Without a clear strategy, implementation becomes challenging, and the resulting knowledge base may not be as complete or reach its full potential. 

A solid KM strategy should be able to:

  • Strengthen the business case for knowledge management with the top brass
  • Bring internal awareness for KM to the rest of the organization, along with its benefits that everyone can relate to
  • Outline the timeline, resources needed, and goal posts to be achieved
  • Delegate tasks to department and team leaders, and make them aware of their responsibilities
  • Track the progress of the implementation

How to Develop a Knowledge Management Strategy

Step 1: Knowledge Audit

The first step of any KM strategy is to audit the organization’s knowledge. Assess the existing KM capabilities:

  • What tools or resources are currently being used that catalogue knowledge, if any
  • Check the extent of the knowledge base, and how often it gets updated
  • Map informational siloes or knowledge gaps
  • Quantify the amount of time wasted searching for answers in existing systems
  • Designate a knowledge manager, if there is no formal role

Step 2: Outline the Business Value

In order to get the buy-in from management, there must be a value proposition. Some of the benefits of KM include:

  • More efficient business processes
  • Less downtime and manpower hours wasted
  • Better coordination and collaboration among departments and working groups
  • Faster learning, training and development
  • Codified best practices
  • Identification of knowledge gaps and opportunities for improvement

The business value must be balanced against the manpower, time, and resources needed to bring the project to fruition, but in all cases, the benefits of KM far outweigh the initial investment needed.

Step 3: Defining the Strategy

With the audit done and support secured, it’s time to define the strategy. 

  • Set the goals and timeline
  • Identify the resources needed and set the budget
  • Appoint a point person or officer-in-charge who will help collect the knowledge in departments and teams 
  • Set KPIs for measuring progress and success

Best Practices for your KM Strategy

Like other change management processes, there are certain factors that can improve your knowledge management strategy. These include:

Behavioral motivation

Since knowledge comes from people, the success of the entire endeavor rests on their willingness to participate, contribute, and share. Drum up support by outlining benefits that they can concretely relate to, such as shorter learning periods, smoother coordination and knowledge sharing, and less time and frustration spent hunting for information.

You can also build up enthusiasm by appealing to their ego: how their knowledge is a critical part of the organization’s success, and how the information they hold can help successive generations.

Remove information barriers

One of the aims of knowledge management is to smash organizational silos that hinder groups from working efficiently and effectively. Emphasize the importance of coordination and networking to build best practice routines for inter-team collaboration.

Pattern analysis

Good KM doesn’t just capture existing knowledge; it identifies trends and patterns that can lead to new knowledge. Evaluate how different groups work together, or how processes and routines affect one another.

Proper codification

The knowledge base is only as effective as its usability. To make it easy and convenient to use, the collected knowledge should:

  • Be properly categorized
  • Be tagged by department, function, or work routine
  • Maintain a consistent style across content

Tech augmentation

The incessant march of technology can do wonders for your knowledge base. Explore how new tech can transform your knowledge management system and make it easier and more accessible for your audience. 

This can include newer software or content management systems, intuitive Wiki-style tools, and even AI learning or voice recognition.

Dissemination

Knowledge management doesn’t stop at the execution level. As knowledge continues to evolve, so too should KM stay on top. Whenever a knowledge material gets added to or updated, the relevant parties should be informed.

Utilize channels like email, newsletters or even social networks to keep users informed and up-to-date on their respective fields.

Next:

Learn what a Knowledge Manager is, and what their roles and responsibilities are.

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