In today’s economy, businesses are always looking for an edge or competitive advantage. However, most businesses don’t have to look any further than the wealth of knowledge existing within their organization. Knowledge can be defined as the fluid mixture of framed experiences, contextual information, values, and expert insight used as the framework for incorporating and evaluating new information and experiences. In any case, a business’s value has a growing dependence on its “intangible assets”, which are found in gargantuan databases, various documents, and in the minds of their employees. The goal is to effectively harness this asset, organize it, and pass it on, which is knowledge management.

For example, if a customer is having a problem connecting to the internet, the knowledge from previous experiences can be used to troubleshoot the problem instead of trying to reinvent the wheel. Simply put, organizations would be highly inefficient if every problem and experience had to be addressed as a new one.

What is a knowledge management system?

The definition of knowledge management is the tools and systems responsible for storing and retrieving organizational knowledge. A knowledge management system effectively improves collaboration, centralized organizational knowledge, and even mines repositories for hidden and lesser-known knowledge. By gathering and storing this knowledge, it can be easily passed on to others in the organization through training and seminars.

Knowledge management tools are excellent at helping users extract and create new knowledge to enhance, transfer, and leverage new outcomes of knowledge. As one of the premier ways to improve business process performance, knowledge management tools are commonly used in business applications, such as information systems, computer science, general management, business administration, and public policy.

Why are knowledge management systems important?

The entire notion of knowledge management systems hinges on the ability to enable employees to have access to various solutions, sources of information, and documented facts. For example, your knowledge management software could host information on tutorials for using the database or troubleshooting information. In any case, the use of knowledge management systems leads to the effective dissemination of information and creation of new ideas for further improvements. Knowledge management tools allow you to organize your information, make sure all of your employees are on the same page, and ensure everyone is using the latest practices with the best information.

What are the goals of knowledge management tools?

Knowledge management software and systems are designed to make creating, storing, and sharing information as easy as typing a few keystrokes. The broad goal is to streamline information sharing and make it easier than having a face-to-face conversation. Applied to business, the most common goals of our knowledge management tools are:

  • Creating a knowledge database that project managers can use to promote the use of other people’s knowledge
  • Maintaining a cache of documents and other resources that human resource departments can use to make sure that all team members have access to what they need to excel at their job and follow company guidelines and procedures
  • Giving training managers tools they can use to help their staff quickly and easily answer common and even more complex questions.
  • Offering a database that customer service managers can use to help their team members answer common customer questions and, thus, minimize wait times
  • Providing a platform that project management teams can use to create a knowledge base and make sure that senior staff members have the best information available to help them make informed and sensible business decisions  

What are the benefits of knowledge management systems?

Knowledge management systems offer something to benefit almost every type of business, from tech companies to retailers. If you have more than one employee or you collaborate with employees outside of your location, you can benefit from using knowledge management software. Just a few of the many helpful benefits our knowledge management system offers to both managers and staff members include:

  • Being able to keep and access knowledge that key employees have amassed even after they retire or leave the company
  • Reducing confusion and the potential for lawsuits, since all team members will have access to the same written company policies and best practices
  • Making knowledge sharing easier, especially for project team members who work in different locations
  • Increasing employee efficiency by reducing frustration and downtime associated with common problems that can be easily dealt with when the employee retrieves knowledge stored by other employees on how to fix the problem
  • Helping companies improve their customer support by providing an easily-accessible knowledge repository so that representatives have common answers at their fingertips
  • Improving communication at all levels, facilitating collaboration and mentoring
  • Make innovation easier by lessening the chance of good ideas getting lost in the system

Knowledge management concepts

Most knowledge management systems encompass two different types of knowledge: tacit knowledge and explicit knowledge. Understanding and being able to categorize the type of knowledge you are looking to work with is essential in choosing the right knowledge management system.

Tacit knowledge

This type of knowledge includes technical skills or know-how as well as cognitive skills, such as beliefs, perspectives, mental models, and images.

  • Tacit knowledge is the type of knowledge that is difficult to articulate, such as best practices, intuitions, and hands-on skills.
  • Tacit knowledge is responsible for ensuring tasks are performed in the most effective manner.
  • It makes room for creativity because insight and intuition can solve problems that would be otherwise inconceivable. Typically, this type of knowledge is transferred through on-the-job training and apprenticeships.

Explicit knowledge

Explicit knowledge is more objective and rational. This type of knowledge is easily expressed in numbers, words, sentences, or formulas regardless of the context, such as manuals, databases, or theoretical approaches.

  • Explicit knowledge is essential in creating standard operating procedures, routines, and the infrastructure of data.
  • Explicit knowledge allows for organizations to have a particular level of control and operational efficiency.
  • This type of knowledge enforces consistent and equable organizational responses.

Today, organizations must effectively adopt knowledge management systems that combine both explicit and tacit knowledge at all organizational levels.

Types of knowledge management software and systems

The goal of knowledge management systems is to help your staff connect with the appropriate resources when they need them. When you are considering the most effective knowledge management system, it’s important to consider a wide variety of needs and factors. In any case, your knowledge management systems can exist in a wide variety of forms.

Expert systems

Expert systems are knowledge management systems used to help representatives make the best decision and diagnose problems. These types of systems are most commonly used to assist in answering complex questions that are asked repeatedly.

Groupware or shared project files

This type of knowledge management system facilitates collaboration between your employees. Groupware can help workers collaborate their calendars or send messages between them. Essentially, everyone on a team would be able to upload and comment on the work performed by others. Examples of this type of system are Google Groups, Listserve, or Outlook.

Document or content management systems

Document management systems allow users to do amazing things with documents, like store, share, and perform edits and create different versions. Best of all, knowledge management systems allow these various documents to be indexed by keywords, author, edit date, and much more, which enables them to be searched more efficiently. Examples of this type of system are Lessonly and ZenDesk.

Decision support systems

Decision support systems are a type of knowledge base software that allows users, specifically upper management, to make the most informed decisions as easily as possible.

Database management systems

Database management systems are a type of knowledge base software that aids in the compilation and management of data stored within a database. Essentially, these systems make retrieval much more simple.

Simulation systems

Simulation knowledge management tools model real-world scenarios. This type of system allows you to test scenarios that wouldn’t be economical or safe to test in a real-world environment.

Feedback database

With the feedback knowledge base software, a company could house all feedback from employees and customers to communicate this information to research and development and design teams. Common examples of feedback databases are Zoomerang or SurveyMonkey.

Important knowledge management features

Now that you know what a knowledge management system is and what it can do for you, you’re probably curious about what features the system offers that can make accessing all of this information and creating knowledge easy. Just a few of the features of our knowledge management system include:

  • The system is easy for all users to create and update knowledge in the system, no matter their skill level or tenure with the company.
  • The drop and drag feature in the content management system makes it simple to add a variety of media to a lesson, such as videos, images, and quizzes.
  • Excellent search tools built into the system that allows users to find the information they need quickly and efficiently.