Ah, knowledge management. The concept is nearly as old as IT service management (ITSM) itself, but many IT departments still struggle to make knowledge sharing work in their organizations. To back this up, there’s a wealth of available statistics on knowledge management adoption and success – from the likes of HDI and the Service Desk Institute (SDI) – with these pointing to a strange situation where:
- The value of knowledge sharing is understood (especially by IT service desks)
- People appreciate that technology is needed to share knowledge effectively
- Knowledge sharing is known to increase speed, reduce workloads, and improve customer satisfaction.
But many organizations are still struggling to make knowledge management work – usually because of people-related issues.
Thus, my blog aims to offer you a number of tips – 10 to be precise – aimed at helping your organization to get started, or restarted, with knowledge management. And not just started – started with a higher probability of succeeding.
8 tips for better knowledge sharing in your organization
- Establish a shared understanding of what knowledge management is for your organization. Different people might have different views as to what knowledge management means (in practice) and what’s needed to support it. For example, an over-focus on high-volume knowledge-article creation or the adoption of the Knowledge-Centered Service (KCS) approach. The important thing here is to collectively decide what knowledge sharing will and won’t be, with success-related objectives created accordingly.
- Make knowledge sharing part of the way of working. Knowledge management needs to be embedded into the operational status quo. Sadly, if new activities/capabilities are positioned as an “add-on” (to business-as-usual processes), then your people will most likely “never get around to it.” This will also require changes to traditional people performance measures to drive “the right types of behavior” for successful knowledge sharing.
- Create short “answers” rather than long articles whenever possible. By this I mean, if two sentences will work as the solution or answer, then make just those two sentences available to knowledge seekers. Succinct answers will be far better received than longer pieces where the knowledge seeker needs waste their time trying to find the actually helpful text.
- Appreciate that knowledge sharing isn’t just about text-based knowledge articles. Available knowledge could also include videos, voice-based help via virtual assistants, augmented reality apps and content, quick access to the most relevant SME(s) for human-to-human assistance, or collaborative digital spaces where peer-to-peer support can occur (and this can in turn be converted into formal knowledge articles when appropriate).
- Ensure that the technology you employ matches your ambitions for knowledge management. Plus, your desired ways of working. As also I mention in my “ITSM Basics: A Simple Introduction to Knowledge Management” blog, knowledge-sharing success is so, so dependent on allowing people to work in a way that suits their needs (rather than interfering with their “flow”). The technology needs to support, rather than distract from, this.
- Don’t always make knowledge seekers “travel” to search for knowledge. By this I mean, look for ways to get relevant knowledge to people without them having to find and use a specific self-service portal page. For instance, mobile apps, taskbar-accessible chatbots, in-context help and advice, or voice-based personal assistants.
- Don’t treat captured knowledge as “forever young.” Unfortunately, most knowledge will have a finite shelf life, and some types of knowledge will become inaccurate, or out of date, sooner than others. So, put in place mechanisms to help ensure that your knowledge articles stay fresh. For instance, periodical knowledge-base reviews and allowing knowledge seekers to provide single-click feedback on the quality of their searches and the articles they then access.
- Appreciate that knowledge management success isn’t easy. Knowledge sharing requires more of a people change than it does process and technology change; and, as such, organizational change management (OCM) tools and techniques will be needed. Plus, of course, many of the approaches and activities in my tips list.
So, that’s my 8 tips for getting started with knowledge management. Would you have included any others? Please let me know in the comments.