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Operations Insight

Can Software Help Your Organisation Manage and Share Knowledge?

Posted on December 8, 2020

Collecting, using, and disseminating knowledge is an important consideration for any business, and even in small and medium organisations, knowledge management is a big task. Using one or more software platforms can make managing knowledge much easier—the trick is finding the software that works for your organisation. With the right software, your employees can work more efficiently and more productively, but if the software isn’t right for your workforce it will go unused, or worse, may become detrimental to your organisation.

What kind of software does your organisation need?

For any kind of knowledge management software, the goal is to make it easier for organisations to collect, store, and share knowledge, and ultimately, to make it easier for employees to collaborate and work together.

Small businesses generally find that their knowledge management needs are very simple, and there’s no need to maintain any kind of system or database for sharing knowledge. When your business has just a small handful of employees who interact with one another on a daily basis, sharing knowledge is something that happens organically.

However, as an organisation grows, the amount of knowledge you generate can quickly become unwieldy. Likewise if your company suddenly has to adopt new ways of working such as during the Covid-19 pandemic information that information can quickly become diluted. Knowledge management software is an ideal way to start collecting and organising knowledge, data, and information so that it’s available for employees to use and share. The key is finding the right platform, and with the plethora of options available that’s no easy task.

Another important point is that there’s no “one size fits all” option for this kind of software. Every organisation has different goals and needs, and even within the same company various different departments might use the same software in different ways and for different purposes. Often, it’s not a case of using one single piece of software, but of using several different applications that together make up a knowledge management system.

Asking the Right Questions

Your choice of knowledge management software has the potential to have a massive effect on the way your organisation operates, so it’s definitely worthwhile taking your time with this decision. Make a point of soliciting opinions from as many people as possible, including departmental managers and people at all levels of the company. Remember that any software you choose is only effective if it's one that people are willing and able to use—so the most important points are to choose a platform that's user-friendly, and that has features your workforce will find useful. To that end, it’s crucial to really make a point of listening to as many employee opinions as possible.

The decision you ultimately make will depend on a number of factors, for instance:

  • How is knowledge currently shared within your organisation? What best-practices are currently implemented or available for your workforce? If you have systems that are in place but aren’t being used, why are they being neglected?
  • What kinds of knowledge need to be shared, and what media are best suited to those kinds of knowledge? For instance, will documents do the job, or do you need a platform that allows for sharing of video or voice clips?
  • What gaps exist between current and ideal knowledge sharing habits? Where are they, and how are they affecting your employees?
  • Why do those gaps exist? Does your current knowledge sharing system meet the needs of your employees? What kinds of improvements would your employees like to see?
  • What is the knowledge management culture like within members of your workforce? Is there enough emphasis placed on knowledge sharing?
  • What kind of software platform is the majority of your workforce likely to be familiar with and comfortable using? If your organisation has an IT department they’ll be an invaluable source of information here—for instance they’ll be best suited to know what kinds of software could effectively be integrated into the current setup.
  • How much control do you want to have over what information is shared? For instance, would a collaborative platform like Google Documents, or would you prefer a more top-down approach that allows managers to have some control over what information is distributed? Or in simple terms, do you want to create a collaborative wiki, or an approved FAQ?
  • Is security an issue that needs to be considered? What kinds of knowledge need to be safeguarded? If you currently have a data or information security platform, how successfully could company knowledge be integrated into that?

User-Friendly Software is Key

Your primary aim with knowledge management is to improve and preserve the knowledge base of your entire workforce, and any systems you implement rely on your workforce being willing to integrate them into their working day. That integration has to be as seamless as possible so that using the knowledge management system becomes a habit for all employees.

Find out what they want, what they think will and won’t work, and why they think that way. Rolling out an expensive software platform is a pointless expense if it doesn’t get used, or if it slows down the rate at which your employees work without providing any useful benefits.

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