This post was originally published on lessonly.com.
It’s an issue as old as knowledge management itself: how do we know if our knowledge management process is succeeding? Measuring the success of knowledge management efforts can be tricky because of how abstract and intangible knowledge can be.
But, if you’ve put in a lot of time, money, and effort into your company’s knowledge management strategy, it’s important to know whether the investment is paying off and has a positive and valuable impact on the business.
Ready to find out you’re onto a winner with your knowledge management initiatives? Find out below.
Before you do anything, the first question that needs to be asked is what success looks like for your company. This depends on its size, stage of development, organizational culture, and overall business goals.
Decide what parts of the business are most crucial to focus on and improve. It could be increasing productivity, developing a tip-top onboarding process, creating a better company culture, or reducing employee turnover. Structure your evaluation strategy around these goals, and keep them central to what is important to the business and how knowledge management can assist in achieving it.
This will give your knowledge management development a clear focus when it comes to proving its return on investment and success.
The next step is to create specific metrics around these business objectives at each stage of the knowledge management roll-out. Your company leaders will likely want to see clear and concrete data to prove that the investment was, and will continue to be, beneficial and valuable.
Numerical data is often the easiest way to demonstrate that your efforts are working or identifying issues in your knowledge management software or approach.
According to The American Productivity & Quality Center, “knowledge management programs that track any business value measures are more than twice as likely to be rated as effective by leaders when compared to KM programs that assess none.”
Here are some different metrics to think about:
How is your knowledge management system helping teams work faster and smarter? Monitoring search activity is a good way to determine this. What are the typical keywords people are searching for, and how often is the search function used each day? What is the resolution rate, or in other words, how long does it take people to find answers to their queries?
Repeated search terms could demonstrate that there is information in the knowledge base that is hard to access, presented unclearly, or simply missing. The usability of the knowledge base software is key to unlock more productivity within your team.
It’s also useful to focus on the onboarding process. How long is it taking new team members to learn the most fundamental knowledge in the company via the knowledge base? This includes things like best practices, corporate culture, and how to use your business’ software and tools. Getting to grips with these as soon as possible allows workers to become more productive and valuable sooner.
Another important metric to consider is employee usage. How many teammates actively access and use the new knowledge management system? Poor participation could be a sign that the knowledge in the system is outdated. Check how old the posts are and when was the last time they were updated.
A low adoption rate could also mean that there hasn’t been an adequate shift in the way the team thinks, behaves, and operates—an indicator that more training and education is needed.
To track usage, find out how many communities of practice (COPs) have been set up, who posts and interacts in them, and how often. The same goes for the knowledge base in general. How many total users are there, and how many are active users, regularly viewing, downloading, and producing the knowledge assets.
It’s also beneficial to look at who as well as how many employees use the tool. Working out who the knowledge champions are in the team indicates who could be a vital advocate or promoter of your knowledge management initiatives and who needs more convincing and training.
There’s no doubt that developing concrete metrics is crucial in measuring the success of organizational knowledge management. However, this may not be the answer for more abstract indicators of success, such as employee satisfaction, innovation, and team cohesion. Anecdotes are often just as impactful as hard data.
Collect success stories that have occurred since implementing the knowledge management strategy. Stories of a time when a team worked well together to solve a complicated issue in their COPs or celebrating a new employee who has become a highly knowledgeable member of the team thanks to a super smooth onboarding process.
It’s also important to consider what the team defines as success and whether they feel like they are achieving more success at work, whatever that means to them. You’ll find this out by conducting regular surveys and feedback sessions.
To do this, collect answers on how usable the knowledge base is and how helpful and relevant the knowledge assets are. Get employees to describe how the company culture has changed since the knowledge management process has been put in place. For example: do they feel they have more space to be creative and innovative, do they feel more connected to their teammates and compelled to share the knowledge they’ve learned with the team?
Finally, ask your teammates if they would recommend the knowledge management software to others. Collect these answers to create an internal Net Promoter Score so you can gauge their satisfaction and enthusiasm for this new way of working.
Surely there’s a lot to consider. But one thing is for sure: a mixture of hard data and metrics with success stories and team feedback is the magic formula to take your knowledge management strategy to victory!