Strong knowledge management processes integrate knowledge management actions—including discovery, capture, organization, assessment, sharing, reuse/application, and creation—into existing business processes so the internal or external end user can easily access, apply, and/or update that knowledge as needed.
How do you develop a knowledge management process?
Developing knowledge management systems and processes within your business requires an initial assessment of your existing business processes, so knowledge management team members can integrate KM steps where they make the most sense. Pairing the right knowledge management steps or actions with appropriate business processes gives people in your organization access to the knowledge they need to make important decisions, enhance efficiency, communicate with their team or clients, train employees effectively, add their own expertise, and more.
Here’s a look at the most common systems and processes steps a business might integrate throughout the organization with an effective knowledge management process:
Typical steps in knowledge management processes
The process of knowledge management begins with discovery. Knowledge discovery is the process of extracting information from data that can be useful to your organization’s strategy, operations, communication, and relationship development. Using data mining to identify patterns, trends, or correlations within large sets of transactional or customer relationship data is an example of discovery.
Knowledge capture is acquiring the knowledge your organization already possesses—within individual employees, teams, documents, or processes—as well as external knowledge, so it can be documented, communicated, and shared to the benefit of your business. Conducting an audit of your existing documentation and encouraging content creation in knowledge areas where you have gaps are key to capturing knowledge.
Knowledge organization means describing, classifying, categorizing, and indexing information so it can be easily retrieved, navigated, reused, and shared among employees, teams, and other critical users. The right knowledge management system can help you sort and segment knowledge so information is readily accessible by the people who need it most.
In order for knowledge to drive beneficial business decisions, spark collaboration and innovation, and improve internal and external processes, you must ensure that knowledge is verified and validated. That means integrating processes that ensure any information your organization intends to apply is accurate, complete, consistent, and up to date. Automatic validation features within your knowledge management system, as well as regular reviews by your internal experts, are critical.
Knowledge sharing encompasses both making knowledge available to those who actively seek it within your organization and directly communicating appropriate knowledge to a user who could potentially apply it for the benefit of your business. Team leaders should regularly encourage, and possibly incentivize, knowledge sharing.
Knowledge reuse or application is when an individual or team can take captured (and organized/assessed) knowledge and apply that knowledge to enhance efficiency, improve business operations, complete a strategic task, communicate more effectively with colleagues or customers, etc. A documented lesson learned from one employee’s complex customer interaction may streamline the process for a colleague in a similar situation, for example.
Knowledge creation is when individuals or teams within your organization add what they’ve learned—through practice, process navigation, internal and external interactions, independent research, and other experiences—to the organization’s collective knowledge. That individual knowledge can then be shared, reused, and applied, as well as expanded upon by future knowledge seekers. Establishing content creation guidelines and regularly communicating the value of – and praising/rewarding the completion of—new relevant content can help you establish a culture of knowledge creation among your teams.
Understand where each component of the knowledge management process can be applied within your organizational structure, and make sure your company’s knowledge process is in good hands with a knowledge manager.