What is knowledge management?

As organizations grow and develop, they collect a wide array of information. Information is one of the most valuable assets for organizations, as employees need it  to do their jobs effectively. However, because there’s so much information to go around, many organizations struggle to collect and share this knowledge. This is why knowledge management is so important.

Knowledge management is the process that organizations use to gather and share information with employees. When it comes to knowledge management in business, this includes: 

  • Explicit knowledge: This is fact-based information that’s clear cut and easily explained. 
  • Implicit knowledge: This includes learned skills or other information that is gained through a particular situation. 
  • Tacit knowledge: This is intuitive information that’s often learned through first-hand experience and practice. 

These different types of knowledge contain valuable information that should be organized and shared across go-to-market (GTM) teams in order to replicate and scale success. 

What is a knowledge management system?

Because knowledge management involves maintaining and storing so much information, a knowledge management system is very useful for streamlining the process. A knowledge management system allows organizations to easily identify, capture, organize, and share knowledge. This tool connects information that lives across disparate systems and locations so that teams have one, central repository of information and source of truth. 

It’s important to note that there are various types of knowledge management systems for businesses. While some organizations use an external knowledge management base for customers and partners to access, we’ll be taking a closer look at internal knowledge management systems that are only used by an organization’s employees.

Key features of knowledge management systems

If your organization is ready to power knowledge management with a dedicated knowledge tool, we suggest looking for a tool that includes the most important features and functionality. These include:

  • Usability: Your organization likely already has a number of different tools and systems in place. So, if you’re planning to introduce a new tool, make sure it’s user-friendly . If it’s difficult to understand, your team simply won’t use it.
  • Centralized access: A great knowledge management system should be a central hub for employees. Look for a tool that seamlessly integrates with your existing tech stack and the tools your team uses on a daily basis.
  • Multi-silo search: Knowledge lives across multiple tools and teams. This creates a search and access problem. But, if you use a system that connects and scans multiple systems, employees will receive all the results in a single query.
  • Format support: It’s best to store and organize knowledge based on how it’s used. For example, some searches will benefit from snippets like Q&A’s and FAQs. Other information may need a lot more context or explanation through in-depth guides. So, be sure to find a tool that supports both short and long-form results.
  • Knowledge verification: A great knowledge management process crowdsources content from teammates, but that doesn’t mean it’s correct. Look for a tool that enables leaders, trainers, and other subject-matter experts to verify submitted information to ensure it’s correct and relevant.
  • Tracking and analytics: Without insights on how knowledge is accessed and used, it’s difficult to assess whether your knowledge management approach is working. The best systems provide robust analytics to leaders so they can track what questions are being asked, where there are knowledge gaps, and if knowledge is out of date. 

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Knowledge management system benefits

Knowledge management systems offer numerous benefits to every organization. Here’s a handful of the many advantages that a knowledge management system has to offer.

Lowers costs

Knowledge management systems can help reduce costly errors that are caused by lack of information. In fact, one report found that Fortune 500 companies lose more than $31 billion a year by failing to manage and share knowledge. Putting a tool in place can help organizations lower these costs significantly by ensuring employees are following the correct procedures, and sharing the right information with prospects and customers.

Increases productivity

McKinsey and Company found that revenue teams waste 20% — or an entire day’s worth of work — looking for answers. But the more time they spend searching for knowledge, the less time they’re interacting with buyers and prospects. These conversations are key to driving business productivity and growth, so it’s best to look for opportunities to remove barriers to their job performance.

Enhances experiences

Customer-facing employees need quick and easy access to the resources in order to share reliable, detailed, and up-to-date information with buyers and customers. For example, a customer might ask for specifics regarding a warranty policy. But, if an agent can’t locate the information, it’s difficult to deliver exceptional service to the customer. A knowledge management system equips employees with the information they need to best support buyers and customers in an engaging and efficient manner.

Streamlines collaboration

Studies show that 75% of employees think collaborating with peers is extremely important to the success of their organization. However, now that many organizations have a hybrid workforce, it can be difficult to collaborate and communicate effectively. A knowledge management system is a great way to encourage collaboration and communication at scale as it gives employees an easy way to share and access information.

Encourages innovation

Knowledge sharing is a great way to share tacit knowledge or information that reps and agents gain while interacting with prospects and customers. This ensures that everyone is aware of best practices and insights that have been useful in similar situations.

Important considerations before implementing a knowledge tool

When implemented correctly, a knowledge management system can help organizations reduce knowledge silos, boost productivity, and improve employee and customer experiences. However, there are some important questions that need to be addressed before implementing a knowledge management system. We suggest considering the following questions.

  1. Does our organization’s culture embrace knowledge sharing? We’ve found that an organization’s knowledge management tool won’t be useful if you don’t prioritize a culture of contribution, collaboration, and teamwork. 
  2. What are our knowledge management objectives? Before jumping into any project, you need to establish key goals and objectives. This will help you create a plan for success and measure progress. 
  3. Who will be responsible for your knowledge management process? Is this a shared initiative? Will you have a dedicated knowledge manager who is responsible for leading the project and managing the tool? Determine who needs to be involved and to what degree before getting things started. 
  4. What is our strategy? This is the time to plan delivery dates, project milestones, success metrics, and a project-road map.
  5. How will you measure success? Organizations can’t implement a tool and forget it. Instead, you’ll need to review key metrics and results, platform engagement statistics, and more to determine success.

Provide just-in-time enablement with Seismic Knowledge

For GTM teams, information lives virtually anywhere, and it’s time consuming to look for the right answers. And because your enablement team can’t be everywhere at once, it’s difficult to provide relevant and correct answers right when they’re needed. That’s why Seismic Knowledge exists. Seismic Knowledge is a self-service knowledge management solution that provides teammates with faster access to answers, documentation, and assets right within their flow of work. This means that enablement teams can spend less time answering questions from the field and more time working on strategic initiatives that drive business growth. To learn more about the Seismic Enablement Cloud™, including Knowledge, check out our Product Innovation Center.