The following steps will help you to identify plan, thus minimizing the risks and maximizing the rewards.
Establish Knowledge Management Program Objectives
You should envision and articulate the end state before selecting a tool, defining a process, and developing workflows. In order to establish the appropriate program objectives, identify and document the business problems that need resolution and the business drivers that will provide momentum and justification for the endeavor. Provide both short-term and long-term objectives that address the business problems and support the business drivers. Short-term objectives should seek to provide validation that the program is on the right path while long-term objectives will help to create and communicate the big picture.
Prepare for Change
Knowledge management involves cultural changes in the way employees perceive and share knowledge they develop or possess. One common cultural hurdle to increasing the sharing of knowledge is that companies primarily reward individual performance. This practice promotes a “knowledge is power” behavior that contradicts the desired knowledge-sharing, knowledge-driven culture end state you are after. Successfully implementing a new knowledge management program may require changes within the organization’s norms and shared values; changes that some people might resist or even attempt to quash. To minimize the negative impact of such changes, it’s wise to follow an established approach for managing cultural change.
Define High-Level Process
You should begin by laying out a high-level knowledge management process to facilitate the effective management of your organization’s knowledge assets. The process can be progressively developed with detailed procedures and work instructions throughout steps four, five, and six. However, it should be finalized and approved prior to step seven. Organizations that overlook or loosely define the knowledge management process will not realize the full potential of their knowledge management objectives. How knowledge is identified, captured, categorized, and disseminated will be ad hoc at best. There are a number of knowledge management best practices, all of which comprise similar activities. In general, these activities include knowledge strategy, creation, identification, classification, capture, validation, transfer, maintenance, archival, measurement, and reporting.
Determine and Prioritize Technology Needs
You can begin to determine and prioritize your knowledge management technology needs. With such a variety of knowledge management solutions, it is imperative to understand the cost and benefit of each type of technology and the primary technology providers in the marketplace. Don’t be too quick to purchase a new technology without first determining if your existing technologies can meet your needs. You can also wait to make costly technology decisions after the knowledge management program is well underway if there is broad support and a need for enhanced computing and automation.
Assess Current State
Now that you’ve established your program objectives to solve your business problem, prepared for change to address cultural issues, defined a high-level process to enable the effective management of your knowledge assets, and determined and prioritized your technology needs that will enhance and automate knowledge management related activities, you are in a position to assess the current state of knowledge management within your organization. The knowledge management assessment should cover all five core knowledge management components: people, processes, technology, structure, and culture. A typical assessment should provide an overview of the assessment, the gaps between current and desired states, and the recommendations for attenuating identified gaps. The recommendations will become the foundation for the roadmap in step six.
Build a Knowledge Management Implementation Roadmap
With the current-state assessment in hand, it is time to build the implementation roadmap for your knowledge management program. But before going too far, you should re-confirm senior leadership’s support and commitment, as well as the funding to implement and maintain the knowledge management program. Without these prerequisites, your efforts will be futile. Having solid evidence of your organization’s shortcomings, via the assessment, should drive the urgency rate up. Having a strategy on how to overcome the shortcomings will be critical in gaining leadership’s support and getting the funding you will need. This strategy can be presented as a road map of related projects, each addressing specific gaps identified by the assessment. The road map can span months and years and illustrate key milestones and dependencies. A good road map will yield some short-term wins in the first step of projects, which will bolster support for subsequent steps.
Performance a knowledge management program and maturing the overall effectiveness of your organization will require significant personnel resources and funding. Be prepared for the long haul, but at the same time, ensure that incremental advances are made and publicized. As long as there are recognized value and benefits, especially in light of ongoing successes, there should be little resistance to continued knowledge management investments. With that said, it’s time for the rubber to meet the road. You know what the objectives are. You have properly mitigated all cultural issues. You’ve got the processes and technologies that will enable and launch your knowledge management program. You know what the gaps are and have a road map to tell you how to address them. As you advance through each step of the road map, make sure you are realizing your short-term wins. Without them, your program may lose momentum and the support of key stakeholders.