As any business leader knows, managing your organization’s assets effectively is one of the key conditions for success. Yet many organizations struggle when it comes to managing what is arguably their most valuable asset: the combined knowledge of their employees.
In many cases, company leaders overlook the importance of effective knowledge management. Even though knowledge is an intangible asset and may be hard to quantify, it is vital to the success of your organization. After all, your human capital and its level of skill are what sets you apart from your competitors.
This blog post explores seven key benefits of knowledge management. At the same time, it shows you how a knowledge-sharing system is particularly suited to meeting the knowledge management needs of organizations today.
What is knowledge management?
To begin, let’s be clear about what knowledge management means. Every employee within an organization possesses valuable job-related knowledge. Knowledge management enables companies to capture, organize and leverage that knowledge to the greatest possible benefit. Ideally, it enables more experienced employees (which we can refer to as “subject matter experts” or “SMEs”) to record and share their knowledge with other employees. This ensures that all employees within the organization can benefit from lessons already learned by their more experienced colleagues.
In reality, knowledge sharing has been taking place in the business world for as long as people have been working together. We all know we have benefited from knowledge passed down to us from our more experienced colleagues. However, the difference with knowledge management is that it creates a structured, effective environment for optimally capturing and spreading useful knowledge. This takes two key ingredients: a culture of knowledge sharing and the right technological tools. But before we explore those topics further, let’s look at seven key benefits that an effective knowledge management strategy can offer your organization.
1. Lower costs
Let’s start with your bottom line. We all know that business decisions ultimately come down to a cost-benefit analysis. In the case of knowledge management, it’s clear that organizations save money when they enable employees to create and share knowledge through a knowledge management system. With the right tools, this significantly cuts down on the costs of centralized learning and development (L&D) and reduces reliance on third-party training service providers.
2. More effective learning
Knowledge management, especially in the form of knowledge sharing, produces better learning outcomes. That’s because the knowledge comes directly from the real-life experience of fellow employees. It is more practical and, when provided in an easy-to-access, on-demand format, it gives employees a chance to immediately apply what they’ve learned, so they internalize new information even faster.
3. Improved decision-making and smoother workflows
We all need a firm knowledge base that we can rely on to make better decisions and do our jobs more effectively. A well-structured, easy-to-use knowledge management system provides exactly that. Instead of employees having to interrupt their workflows to ask a manager or senior colleague for help, they should be given access to a searchable knowledge base. This way, they can find the information they need right at their work station, so they can do their jobs more effectively. With the right technologies, this is also possible on mobile devices, so employees can access the knowledge base from wherever they are.
4. Preventing brain drain
By capturing knowledge in a knowledge management system, you ensure that future employees will have access to the same information, even if a senior employee or valuable SME leaves the company or department. This is particularly valuable in high-turnover areas, such as sales and customer service.
5. Creating a collaborative, knowledge-sharing culture
We all know the saying “two heads are better than one.” Businesses can tap into the synergies that exist among not just two but all of their employees when they provide an effective platform for sharing knowledge. This leads to a more creative, collaborative and open working environment, with a stronger focus on teamwork and mutual support.
6. Easier scalability
Unlike conventional methods for educating employees (like classroom training or one-on-one mentoring), knowledge sharing enables organizations to reach far greater numbers of employees all at once. By giving all employees online access to the relevant knowledge they need (including on mobile devices), you can serve the needs of the entire organization, even if employees are spread out across multiple locations.
7. An agile, responsive knowledge base
Lastly, modern knowledge management based on knowledge sharing gives organizations a competitive advantage. Because knowledge originates among real employees working on the business side of the organization, it is much more in touch with actual market conditions. It can also be continually updated as those conditions change, so it is far more agile and responsive than past training methods which may have taken months to update.
The right tools: Choosing a knowledge management solution
As mentioned before, successful knowledge management relies on a culture of knowledge sharing as well as the right technological tools. To ensure your success, you should provide easy-to-use content authoring tools. Easygenerator is a great example. It provides a zero-learning-curve interface with smart built-in authoring assistance tools. It guides SMEs in creating optimal learning content and courses, which can then be published immediately online for all employees to access. The SMEs and their peers can work together to keep this content up-to-date and accurate.
Major organizations including Unilever, T-Mobile and Kellogg’s have discovered the benefits of knowledge management by adopting Easygenerator’s software and original Employee-generated Learning model. Easy-to-use software like Easygenerator is essential, because it empowers and encourages SMEs to contribute to the knowledge base. This creates a firm foundation for a knowledge-sharing culture.
As long as the right tools are provided, Employee-generated Learning and knowledge sharing can sustain themselves. This greatly reduces the strain on L&D teams, enabling them to play a more strategic role within the organization. The result of knowledge sharing and knowledge management, as you can see from the benefits discussed above, is a more effective, better-educated workforce. That is an asset that will benefit any organization in the business world today.