Knowledge Management Definition and Solutions

Knowledge Management (KM) topics covering definition, systems, benefits, and challenges.

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How can I sell a KM project in my organization?

For starters, don’t label it KM because the term causes so much confusion. Everyone has a different definition of KM (if they even know what it is) and those who have heard of it and have heard of all the failures associated with KM projects will be inherently biased against your project. Instead of calling it KM, pitch it as a project designed to solve a particular business problem. Your KM project is much more likely to succeed if it addresses an actual business goal or specific pain point, like improving collaboration in order to bring a product to market faster than the competition.

How can I demonstrate the value of a KM initiative?

Hubert Saint-Onge, CEO of Konverge and Know, a KM consulting company, has said he believes that 50 percent of all ROIs associated with KM projects are bogus. Rather than attempt to calculate a hard-dollar ROI that you may not be able to achieve, it’s often wise just to promise that the system will pay for itself (if indeed it will) and therefore is worth trying out to see if incremental benefits can be gained. That approach works well if you’re trying to get funding from executives who are known skeptics of KM. Also, instead of attempting to demonstrate enterprisewide value for a KM project, look for value at the individual level. For example, if the project will reduce the amount of time call center workers spend with each customer, you might be able to sell the project on that basis.

Is there a best way to approach KM?

Starting small is definitely less risky than taking a big-bang approach. With smaller projects, you have more control over the outcome, and small-scale failure won’t doom your entire effort. In addition, getting funding for a series of smaller projects is more feasible than getting funding for an enterprise wide initiative, especially if the benefits are hard to quantify. Starting small also allows you to build on your success. Our story, Less for Success shows how you can make KM pay off by starting small.

When embarking on a KM strategy, you should define the value you want to achieve from your KM initiative and establish at the outset metrics that will prove your success. Finally, a KM program should not be divorced from a business goal. While sharing best practices is a commendable idea, there must be an underlying business reason to do so. Without a solid business case, KM is a futile exercise.

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