Knowledge management refers to the process of collecting, analyzing, managing, and sharing relevant business information throughout an organization. As the amount of data that businesses encounter daily continues to grow to tremendous levels, an organization’s knowledge management strategy is becoming increasingly important. The goal of the knowledge management process is to capture and utilize knowledge resources and best practices, which are great assets for an organization, to gain a competitive advantage. While the best strategy will be specific to each company, managing the flow of knowledge among individuals within an organization can result in increased productivity, manufacturing efficiency, and innovative thinking that can improve organizational practices and lead to a higher level of performance.
4 Key Steps for Discovering the Best Knowledge Management Process
The first step in the process is to determine how knowledge in an organization will be discovered. There are multiple sources of relevant data that businesses have access to, so this step requires an in-depth understanding of the flow of knowledge within the organization. This involves discovering where the most critical knowledge lies within the organization, what the most important business practices from which data can be gathered are, and how information can get trapped or lost within these processes. A company can undergo the discovery step of the process by identifying knowledge present in current organizational processes, interviewing individuals or groups within the organization, hiring new talent or consultants offering critical knowledge outside of the current realm of the company, and utilizing intelligence-gathering and data-mining techniques culled from manufacturing, customer-related information, and other business-based practices.
Capturing refers to the ways in which both established and new organizational knowledge will be stored. This step benefits organizations by increasing the organizational structure of the knowledge management process. The vast amount of important business information needs to be categorized and mapped in order for the organization to reap the most benefits inherent in the knowledge. Digital storage is a useful aid for complex organizations. Written documents can be scanned to digital databases for easier access and data management. Classifying valuable information through the use of metadata, which involves identifying repeated names, keywords, and dates, along with indexing, can assist in capturing, searching, and retrieving the most relevant knowledge stored.
Once knowledge has been discovered and captured, it will need to be processed to increase its utility. At this point, organizations have acquired the information and data making up the most relevant company knowledge. Additional analysis, reorganization, and assessment are now required. The synthesis of knowledge during this step will assist in determining how knowledge can be incorporated into the procedures and rules of an organization. It will also aid in establishing a culture of knowledge and developing individuals and teams who will make the greatest improvements and innovations to the organization as a whole.
Share and Benefit
Sharing knowledge with individuals within an organization is the main reason businesses adopt knowledge management strategies. First, it is important to determine who would benefit most from the organizational knowledge available and then find ways for those individuals to access it quickly and easily. Managers may require that individuals participate in training to learn how to apply knowledge to business practices and to understand what benefits the organization hopes to achieve as a result of its knowledge management efforts.
Knowledge Management for Continuous Improvement
Knowledge management is considered a continuous improvement process because the goal of gaining insight into an organization is to build efficiency of business processes, improve product and service quality, and increase profitability. Establishing an effective knowledge management process can assist organizational leaders in making decisions that will benefit their organizations. For example, General Electric created its Corporate Executive Council as part of its knowledge management strategy. The group is made up of executives from the conglomerate’s major businesses who meet and discuss best practices, experiences, and methods for progress as a way to share knowledge with other leaders and better inform their decision-making process within their organization.
The study of business practices and the search for new insights create a culture of knowledge and aid in the continuous improvement of an organization. This is at the heart of the knowledge management process. Business leaders and executives who manage knowledge can stay ahead of the competition by continually assessing their progress, utilizing their strengths, and facilitating changes and innovation in their organization.
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