How much information do you consume in a day?
The amount of information – written, visual, audible, or otherwise – that a person consumes every day has increased exponentially in recent years. Studies from the University of California estimate that individuals take in 34 gigabytes of information daily! Another study estimates that everyone processes information equal to 174 newspapers a day – a strong argument for the benefits of paperless automation. With these incredible numbers, imagine how much knowledge is received, processed, and created by even the smallest company.
This explosion of data demands new and better ways to manage knowledge. Enterprise knowledge management, as a business capability, is critical to successful enterprise. The larger a company becomes, the more important it is to have standard ways to create, share, consume, and update knowledge. Without effective enterprise knowledge management , a company exposes itself to a variety of common pain points . Through executing knowledge management best practices, however, every company will reap several benefits. Here are just some of the advantages knowledge management brings:
1. Enterprise Knowledge Management Streamlines Workflows
An important step in creating new knowledge is to define common standards, templates, and formats for capturing critical information. Having standard templates for the most common business artifacts –use cases, workflow diagrams, ticket resolution forms, etc. – will streamline the work. More importantly, it reduces time and energy spent creating these materials and sets a basic level of quality across the entire company. Once an employee is familiar with a template for workflow diagrams, they will be able to read any diagram stored in the company knowledge base.
Effective enterprise knowledge management will leverage industry-standards to improve the on-boarding experience for new employees. Similarly, document templates improve communication across teams and projects and lead to a faster execution cycle.
2. Enterprise Knowledge Management Leverages Existing Expertise
A huge part of enterprise knowledge management is the ability to share existing knowledge quickly and efficiently. Today, almost every employee is a ‘knowledge worker’: someone who relies on information to solve problems. It is impossible, however, for every employee to know everything about the company. It is crucial that team members be able to rely on the knowledge of others as part of their problem-solving process! Good knowledge management software provides tools for sharing and finding knowledge. These are two areas which can sap as much as 30% of an employee’s working time!
3. Enterprise Knowledge Management Reduces Communication Overhead
Of all the new information each person consumes in a day, a generous portion can be allotted to work-related activities. Similarly, if the information needed can’t be found or created, the next step is to talk with an expert! Knowledge management solutions emphasize the user’s ability to learn new knowledge as quickly as possible. Most importantly, existing knowledge that can be retrieved and understood by an employee doesn’t require additional help. There’s no need to elicit information from experts through numerous emails and lengthy meetings. Many employees know the pain of being pulled away to help with someone else’s problem!
A centralized knowledge base and good software tools – whether an existing product or custom software solution– will reduce overhead and increase productivity. The less time spent eliciting or searching for information, the more time can be spent in knowledge application.
4. Enterprise Knowledge Management Speeds Up Projects
Knowledge management is chiefly concerned with the creation, distribution, and consumption of knowledge within an enterprise. The focus of enterprise knowledge management is to speed up and improve this cycle; when less time is devoted to any of these activities, far more productive time can be spent in knowledge application. That is, using knowledge to make decisions, perform tasks, and create routines. Ultimately, all the knowledge in the world is useless if it doesn’t help a company deliver value to its customers!
5. Enterprise Knowledge Management Helps Teams Improve
Beyond acting as a storehouse of useful information, knowledge management emphasizes creating opportunities for reflection and improvement. Peter Senge, a contributor to the field, describes this as the need to develop not just “knowledge workers” but also “learning organizations”. Companies don’t become industry leaders or develop knowledge management best practices overnight. Instead, it’s critically important that the organization learn how to learn.
Knowledge management provides a foundation for continuous process improvement across the enterprise. The company must take time to reflect on past work and define better strategies for the next project. Knowledge management tools when supported by business processes will iterate and deliver mission-critical information above and beyond the competition.
Enterprise Knowledge Management: Where to Go Next
There may be incredible opportunities to improve the knowledge management practices of your company. Contact Xorbix to talk about your existing knowledge management capabilities and brainstorm new opportunities to develop a culture of learning for your business.