Nowadays there’s so much information, data and statistics in the workplace that organizing, managing and sharing it is a challenge for businesses. How do you make all that knowledge work for you? How do you make it accessible to staff? It’s true – what’s the point of having all this organizational knowledge if it’s not contributing to your business goals. Essentially, all that any company really wants is for employees to be able to access the right information at the right time. And that should be at the heart of any knowledge management system. But how do you go about achieving it? Well in this post we look at some of the ways organizations have been approaching this issue and we then go on to look at what the intranet has to offer in this context. First though let’s be clear about what knowledge management is all about.
What Is Knowledge Management?
Advances in technology and the advent of the internet mean that there is now more information than ever in the workplace. And the term knowledge management simply refers to the systems companies have in place for publishing, managing and sharing that organizational knowledge so that it helps in achieving business goals. And it includes both internal and external sources of knowledge.
Companies that take a strategic approach to knowledge management make better, more informed decisions. They also tend to be more productive and innovative and are able to respond to change more quickly and efficiently. The key word here though is strategic. To be effective, a company’s knowledge management system needs to be aligned to business goals rather than simply collecting data just for the sake of it. Information in itself is not knowledge. How that information is applied in the context of the workplace is the key.
Organizations’ Traditional Approach To Knowledge Management
For some companies, knowledge management consists of a filing cabinet packed full of every policy, procedure and company report ever produced. For others, it’s a combination of paper and email-based systems as well as databases. However, more often than not the information is in silos within individual teams or departments with very little sharing and collaboration across the whole organization.
What’s more, lots of businesses have come to rely on wikis as being the primary mechanism for organizational knowledge management. And so let’s look at some of the advantages and disadvantages of wikis as a knowledge management system.
Advantages Of Wikis
A wiki is essentially a webpage or database that has been developed collaboratively by a group of users. Any user can add or edit the content. And so wikis make it quick and easy to work with others on editing information in a webpage. And because users are working collaboratively, wikis can facilitate discussion and communication within a business. Wikis tend to work best in smaller teams with limited numbers of users. You often see them in the context of software development with users sharing information and insights on common issues and the development of best practices.
Disadvantages Of Wikis
There are, however, some downsides to using wikis. Often their free-for-all nature means that they lack structure. What’s more, contributions are unmoderated and so some are more focused and helpful than others. And frequently the contributions are not aligned to any overall business goals. In addition, wikis can have limited search capabilities which makes it difficult to find the precise data that you’re looking for.
And so while there is definitely a place for wikis in modern businesses, their usefulness as a knowledge management tool may be limited. In contrast, the company intranet has a number of distinct advantages when it comes to knowledge management and so let’s turn our attention to what the intranet has to offer in this context.
Advantages Of An Intranet
The intranet is the perfect starting point for developing a comprehensive, strategic knowledge management system. Why? Well, for a start the intranet is accessible to all staff who are already using it on a daily basis. What’s more, it’s intuitive and simple to use and the information and knowledge can be quickly and easily shared across the whole organization or by team and department – whatever makes sense to your business. In addition, the intranet has intuitive menu and site navigation, backed up by an advanced search capability which means that staff members can quickly and easily locate the specific piece of knowledge they’re after.
These advantages make the intranet the perfect system for organizational knowledge management. And just to illustrate this further, let’s look at a couple of practical examples of how a knowledge management system might work on the intranet.
Practical Examples Of Knowledge Management Using An Intranet
Is your business based on sales? Use the intranet to enable your sales personnel to keep track of their sales numbers, sales leaderboards, client relationship information and sales tips and tricks all on one central platform. What’s more, the intranet will be accessible to your sales team from any mobile device, even when they’re out on the road.
Is your business service-based? Let’s say, for example, you service office photocopier machines. Your field personnel will need to have knowledge of many types of different complex machines, common issues and how to fix them. It’s impractical and unproductive to train the repairers on all machines. The way round that is to use the intranet to organize and manage the knowledge from the perspective of the employee. And so from a main menu that lists the different brands of photocopiers, the pages can naturally link off to common problems and how to resolve them. Or they could be a series of sub-pages with specific models that then branch off to detailed maintenance manuals. Whatever approach or combination of approaches you adopt, the important thing is to transfer the knowledge to the right person at the right time.
Perhaps you have a cross-departmental project that requires collaborative working amongst staff? It may be that you are developing a digital marketing strategy, an employee wellness initiative or a new company logo. Use the intranet to facilitate joint working by setting up a project space where staff can share insights, data and best practice ideas as well as collaborating in real time on documents using an embedded Google Apps or Office 365 app. Eliminate the need for long email conversations, face-to-face meetings and the sending of documents back and forth with the far more efficient and effective intranet.
Keep It Simple With An Intranet
Why make life more complicated than it needs to be? There’s already too much to think about in the workplace without overcomplicating things. An intranet enables you to effectively manage your organizational knowledge alongside a range of other business improvements all within one easy to use platform. Keep it simple in your business and use the intranet for your knowledge management.
Interested in finding out more? Contact the team at MyHub for an informal discussion about knowledge management or any of the other great benefits an intranet has to offer. Better still take advantage of our no obligation demo or 14-day free trial. Get in touch today.