Maintenance of the Knowledgebase is Critical to Success

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Plan to have dedicated resources such as knowledge experts to build and maintain the knowledge. Regular and timely maintenance of the knowledgebase is critical to success. Be sure to build in a mechanism that identifies gaps in content (information sought but not found), and a process for filling those gaps. If people repeatedly fail to find what they are looking for they will stop using the system.

KM requires cultural change

You will need buy-in at all levels, and this may require cultural change. The people that are going to use the tools have to be part of the design. Do not make this management decision in a vacuum. Include some people from the various groups that will directly or indirectly use the system.

Sometimes staffs have a fear that management will use the knowledge management process to replace people. If your staff thinks that is what you are trying to do, then you really need to address that head-on. Once you convince your team that current head count reduction is not the goal, you need to look for and plan the motivation for each party. After all, you are asking people to shift from a system where being a tower of knowledge is rewarded to a system where they share their expertise with everybody. Each party will have a unique motivation to embrace knowledge management. For example, your frontline tech will have a different motivational schema than your third level technician. The frontline tech is not going to have to ask the second line tech as many questions, and can resolve more problems faster. The second level tech is not going to get as many of the common questions. Level 3 researchers will not have to start at ground zero when handed a problem by level two, because they know Level 1 and 2 have covered all the intermediate steps. Therefore, as you look across the company everybody has a different interest and you have to protect all of them. Failing to see how knowledge management is going to fit in to the rest of the organization is really a mistake. You must invest the time and energy to understand the culture, identify motivations and ensure change happens where needed.

Champions are important

To be successful, your knowledge initiative must have several champions within the organization. These individuals believe in the initiative, enthusiastically advocate it and have the influence to "make things happen." Initiatives that have no champion generally do not get off the ground. Those with one champion are at serious risk. Losing your champion can spell disaster for you project.

This is a real problem for knowledge management initiatives, due to their typically long duration. If the initiative champion transfers, retires or leaves the company, initiative often loses its momentum and the initiative may falter as someone else takes it over. What knowledge experts like to see is a dual sponsorship: one at the operational level and one at the executive level. Therefore, if an operations manager decides the company really needs knowledge management, that manager should find somebody on the executive staff that will agree to support the vision. By having that dual track of vision, the initiative is less likely to derail.

Click to download a White Paper on Knowledge Base ROI