A book kept in a locked drawer doesn’t do much good, does it? That’s why knowledge management is one of the most interesting challenges in the 4.0 world.

Now that we are used to the fact that access to information is becoming easier and easier (hello, internet!) it makes no sense for all your culture, experience and training to remain only in your little head.

Or, applied to the business world, one department does something and the others don’t know about it.

Or they overwork.

Or they work on the completely opposite, which has happened in some cases.

How can we avoid closed spaces or silos? How can we ensure that the available knowledge is put at the service of the whole?

This is what this is about. 

What is knowledge management?

Information is out there, but, how do I find it?

“Knowledge management is a discipline that promotes an integrated approach to identifying, capturing, evaluating, retrieving, and sharing all of an enterprise’s information assets. These assets may include databases, documents, policies, procedures, and previously un-captured expertise and experience in individual workers.” Duhon (1998)

There you have the formal definition for you to digest. 🙃

If you’re left with a poker face, don’t worry, we’ll explain.

Actually, this “information assets” thing is a bit tricky. In a nutshell, they are the data that a company has and needs to carry out its activity. 

That is, structured data that we are able to understand, stored in databases, documents, reports… 

This is where it gets interesting. At Zapiens we pay attention to information processed by hard disks or biological processors – that is, by people’s brains!

Because knowledge is not only kept in folders or files… it is also “stored” in heads.

And how do you organize this data so that it is accessible for others?

Hmmm…. No, not like this. (Via Giphy)

Rather, let’s make only available to others information that people know, creating a place where they can “dump” all their knowledge.

And what do we achieve by managing all this? Well, it generates value for the company.

But real value. Knowledge is intangible, but when it is applied, its effects are measurable.

(We’ll talk about one of our favorite metrics: ROL or Return of Learning, another day. Promise.)

What is knowledge management for?

When information flows, new learning is generated, which generates new knowledge, which generates new learning, which generates… you see where we’re going, right?

And what does all this mean? Basically, a competitive improvement.

A well-trained team with a good knowledge transfer process is more efficient, makes better decisions, has better relations with customers and suppliers and, last but not least, does not repeat mistakes made in the past.

Information must flow. At least if we want our organization to grow and improve continuously with everyone’s input.

And it saves you from hearing things like this again:

  • Ask management, I’ve got no clue.
  • Who has spoken to this customer and what was the last thing they said?
  • What’s marketing up to and why hasn’t sales heard about it?
  • Yes, I know he’s on holiday but Paco is the only one who knows how to do this. Give him a call.
  • The day Ana retires, this company is going to blow up.

5 (+1 bonus) benefits of knowledge management.

1. (Huge) increase in productivity.

There are studies that say that a person spends an average of 20% of their working day looking for information they need for their job (we’re not even talking about looking at social networks).

Take note: in a working week, that’s a whole day wasted, just because the person doesn’t know where to look or who to ask!

That’s the thing about working with concentration. (Via Giphy)

With a good knowledge management system, information is accessible and open because everyone knows how to find it.

If adding to this, you’ve got every work process well documented, not only do you save a tremendous amount of time, but you remove the frustration of not knowing exactly how to do things.

Seriously, everything tidy and to hand. Like using the Marie Kondo method applied to knowledge.

2. Bring hidden talent to light.

Here the job category is a bit (very) unimportant. Seriously: even the most recent recruit has a lot to contribute to his or her colleagues.

Maybe in their previous job they already had to deal with the problems you are having now. If you don’t have a system in place to circulate that information, you won’t even know about it.

Never underestimate your team’s power! Having all that potential and skills at your disposal and not tapping into it would be a bit of a dunce.

3. Empower people.

Thomas Hobbes said it in his time, and we say it too: “information is power”.

And when you give that power to the people in your organization, you empower them to make better decisions, be super proactive and enrich their work environment.

Creating a knowledge management system is about collaboration rather than competition. And in this way knowledge is multiplied: 2+2 is much more than 4.

Put into practice, this allows you to create continuous training programs that are much more agile than traditional ones.

You simply detect an information niche, open it up and empower all staff in those skills.

4. Row in the same direction.

Sharing knowledge allows you to focus on your business objectives.

Why? Because everyone knows where the company is going and what needs to be done at all times.

Do you know what happens when everyone in a boat is rowing in their own direction?

That’s not the way to go. (Via Giphy)

In return, visualize everyone moving in the same direction, with the same rhythm and the same strength. Well, the metaphor is obvious.

5. Create a culture of your own.

When knowledge begins to have structure, it takes on a life of its own.

Everyone in the organization generates a behavior based on collaboration, creativity and continuous improvement. And it shows sooner rather than later.

Your company becomes a recognizable entity, with which customers empathize not only because it improves service quality but also because they identify with your values.

6. The bonus: employee engagement.

Well-managed knowledge management boosts employee engagement

Few things feel better than feeling that your opinion and contributions are valued.

How to manage your organization’s knowledge? Zapiens to the rescue

You can take your time searching, but if it’s not organized…

Let’s meet Martha.

Martha has just joined the company and, to be honest, she is a bit lost.

She has to get up to speed on how things are done in her new job and everyone is so busy that no one has time to stop and talk to her.

So Martha is learning by trial and error. When she has a question, she doesn’t really know who to ask and jumps from person to person until she finds an answer.

Or she gets fed up with wasting her time and spends half an hour looking on the Internet, to see if Google helps her.

So, it can easily take her weeks to start performing properly.

Introducing: Martha, Zap; Zap, Martha.

Zap is the Zapiens bot and is responsible for organizing and managing all the knowledge of your organization.

What does this mean? If Martha has a question, she can ask Zap directly.

Zap gives her the answer and, if it doesn’t have it, it locates the right person to answer the question. So the next time that question comes up, ta-da! the information is available to whoever needs it.

And it’s available at exactly the right time! Without creating “noise” or distractions, as we already have enough with the bombardment of information through different communication channels.

No one has to keep answering the same thing over and over again (it’s exhausting!) and no one has to search for the information they need.

Zap has it all organized and accessible. It’s a sweetheart! ❤️

What do you think? Put a Zap in your life! If the end of Martha’s story has convinced you, maybe the same could happen in your company. If you want to check it out, ask us for a free Demo and we’ll see your specific case.

How is your company doing with knowledge management?

If you were not clear about what knowledge management is, or how to apply it, we hope we have helped.

As a good superhero would say: don’t thank us, it’s our job.

Well, if you “thank” us a little bit by sharing this post in your social networks, we won’t mind either 😉. Let the knowledge flow!

Request your FREE Demo now.

With all the brains in your organization connected, your team will be more productive than ever.