What is a Knowledge Manager, and Why Do You Need One?

Andy Cook
January 31, 2022

Knowledge management is a difficult but worthwhile undertaking. It involves delving into every aspect of the organization to capture institutional and practical knowledge, and working with group leaders all the way from the top brass down to individual teams.

For this reason, such an important task requires someone with the proper background in organizational management, strategic planning, and people handling.

This is where the role of a knowledge manager comes in.

What is a Knowledge Manager?

A knowledge manager is the person responsible for the organization’s knowledge assets, and with it its knowledge management system. They manage the processes for building, distributing and developing the company’s knowledge base. 

Because knowledge is subjective and not easily documented like other types of information, the knowledge manager must have good soft skills to assess the knowledge management frameworks across different levels of the organization. 

Once the project has been implemented and the knowledge stored in a repository, they are also responsible for maintaining and updating the knowledge base, as well as analyzing the data to measure the impact of the overall knowledge management strategy.

The Roles of a Knowledge Manager

  • Oversee and maintain the knowledge base and knowledge management system.
  • Work with management, department heads, and trainers to capture knowledge assets and share it efficiently and effectively to relevant stakeholders.
  • Establish best practices, routines and procedures that can streamline operations in each department.
  • Evaluate the business impact of the knowledge base using analytics and historical data.

What Makes a Good Knowledge Manager?

Core Competencies

Communication – Since the role deals with interaction and facilitation, he or she should have excellent communication skills, persuasion, and listening skills to encourage discussion and sharing of ideas.

Organizational management – By nature, the knowledge manager is able to think in terms of business processes, culture and behavior. They can then build these into a concrete knowledge base that can be practically stored, accessed, and distributed.

Strategic planning – The knowledge manager works with diverse department heads across the organization, and comes up with best practices and organizational strategy for teams and interdepartmental working groups.

Technology – Since the knowledge manager is responsible for the knowledge database, he or she should have a good understanding of tools, software, and tech developments that make up the company’s knowledge management system.

Ideal Candidates for Knowledge Manager

  • Program and Development Managers – since they already know how to build processes and codify them into best practices.
  • Operations managers – excellent grasp of the bigger picture, and the myriad routines and culture that make up the organization.
  • Sales and CX managers – they know how to talk to people and capture information that benefits the knowledge base.

Do You Need a Knowledge Manager?

You NEED a knowledge manager if:

  • Your organization is huge and can benefit from a knowledge management repository.
  • You recognize that various teams and departments can work together more effectively and efficiently if they have access to a shared knowledge base.
  • Valuable time and resources are wasted tracking down knowledge assets.
  • Your training, learning and development have room for improvement in terms of storing and disseminating knowledge.

Does a knowledge manager have to be a formal role?

Not necessarily. The responsibility can be assigned to one of the existing roles mentioned above. However, larger organizations can benefit from a dedicated knowledge manager depending on their size, and number and complexity of departments.