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The knowledge management process: 4 steps to corporate success

Ensuring the retention of collective knowledge — intellectual capital — whether as formal organizational knowledge or informal know-how, can be tough. Organizing, analyzing, and sharing the knowledge you do manage to retain can prove even more elusive.

That’s where knowledge management process tools come in. Focused on quick knowledge retrieval, intelligent search features, and excellent organizational structure and capacity, they are vital to the smooth running of a business and, in this era of Big Data, can help a company gain a competitive advantage in terms of overall customer satisfaction.

The knowledge management process comprises four steps that can be implemented by management initiatives.

First, what does knowledge mean?

Organizations are flooded with knowledge — data and information — on a daily basis. It’s important to understand the different types of workplace knowledge that are involved so you can organize them correctly and get each processed optimally. 

The three types of knowledge

In terms of organizational learning, there are three distinct knowledge categories:

  • Explicit knowledge: information that can be documented and shared. Employees are able to easily access and pass along explicit knowledge.
  • Implicit knowledge: information that is learned. For example, explicit knowledge might be information about a product that exists in a case study. Implicit knowledge would be what happens when you “apply” that information (use knowledge), for example by referring to it in a meeting with a client.
  • Tacit knowledge: information that might be difficult to formally relay to another person. For example, in a business setting, it might be the code of ways that employees are expected to interact with clients, such as by wearing certain attire. 

Good knowledge management means better efficiency

An effective knowledge management process makes your company information easily accessible, sidestepping the need to plow through multiple data silos in search of key info. Good information management can massively reduce the amount of costly, frustrating time that employees spend digging for data. Plus, improved management of sensitive data (e.g., personally identifiable information, PII) could help prevent breaches of data compliance regulations. 

Better, faster, more intuitive sharing

Knowledge management systems also promote data sharing among employees, helping workers retrieve information quickly and speeding up time-dependent processes. Following a knowledge management process helps teams identify what knowledge exists and which areas might be served by the documentation of new knowledge. 

Here are a couple of knowledge management process examples:

Example 1: Locating a vital case study

When that’s in place, a sales consultant who needs to quickly put her hands on a particular case study to bolster product claims for a prospect can access it quickly using your organization’s knowledge base.

Example 2: Making needed information available 

The same consultant may realize that the organization’s sales collateral does not reflect the full ROI of the product or service. When she does, she can facilitate the creation of that information with the appropriate stakeholders. So following the process of knowledge management and using the right knowledge management tools can help employees stockpile in-demand company knowledge wherever it’s needed.

Steps in the knowledge management process lifecycle

For companies thinking about knowledge management tools and how to instill an organizational culture that values corporate information, the workflow process is relatively easy to follow. Here are the key steps:

1. Knowledge discovery

This initial step, knowledge acquisition, is about identifying knowledge that’s worth preserving, as well as any knowledge gaps and areas ripe for knowledge creation. After this decision making, it entails seeking out knowledge that could be useful to employees. 

For example, consider a sales team member who recognizes the need for more testimonial content. Their leads want proof of an ROI, so having the case study documented would help when it comes to converting leads.

2. Knowledge capture

When key knowledge has been identified, it can be captured, created, edited, or otherwise produced to be made available. The sales representative who recognizes a need for a testimonial can generate one in the right format or ask the marketing team to do it. 

Through documentation, the knowledge becomes explicit, exists in an accessible format, and can be shared. The knowledge management process turns information that might exist in the minds of employees — or perhaps might have been jotted down in informal notes — into something tangible that can be made available for consumption across the enterprise. 

3. Knowledge organization and optimization

When you’ve identified and captured the requisite knowledge, it must be organized in a knowledge database. 

WordPress is one often-used content management system for building a knowledge base, and there are many other good options on the market. 

You can treat your knowledge base like a digital library, with everything indexed and tagged with metadata so that storing knowledge and finding documentation is simple. It should also be optimized with the right tools (such as intelligent enterprise search), so that users can find and access material in the most efficient manner.

Note: With analytics, you can track how employees are using your knowledge base. Knowing which documents are read most, which ones employees navigate to next, and which are obsolete can help your team make informed decisions, set up archiving, and more expertly organize your content. 

4. Knowledge sharing

Knowledge sharing is simply the exchanging of valuable information. Having an organized and optimized knowledge base that contains the right content facilitates this final stage of the knowledge management process.

Many organizations go to great lengths to set up document management systems and promote knowledge transfer, whether across their intranets or in other forms of data management, but their workers’ ability to share knowledge is often negligible. Why? Employees might be comfortable with old methods, or maybe the knowledge base hasn’t been widely publicized, or the business processes haven’t been updated.

Having a knowledge management system that nobody uses (or knows exists) is like publishing a book that nobody bothers to crack open. It might be a monumental piece of literary work, but without readers, its wisdom is pretty much useless.

Lessons learned: with a good information knowledge management process, for you to realize the benefits of knowledge management, data must be read, processed, and shared with teammates who can put it to use. Sharing content by way of collaboration tools (e.g., Slack) can boost its dissemination as reference material.

Knowledge is (corporate) power 

Sharing knowledge ensures that employees have the data they need to do their jobs in the best ways possible. An effective knowledge base that is both organized and optimized makes sharing information and utilizing it a more likely scenario. 

As successful knowledge management solutions go, the Algolia search tool is worth a look; it can optimize your knowledge base for first-rate knowledge discovery. With unmatched speed and artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities, you can deliver exceptional search. Our software connects employees to the knowledge they need, boosts information uptake, and supplies you with insights on how your users are interacting with your data.

Want to get your knowledge base in shape and pursue the potentially better metrics of producing powerful knowledge assets with the right knowledge management software? Contact our product specialists to learn about our renowned search and discovery platform and how we can help you implement a phenomenal knowledge management strategy.

About the author
Catherine Dee

Search and Discovery writer


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