5 ways to improve your business' knowledge management system

5 tips to improve your business' knowledge management system

28 March 2017
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Many employers can relate to having one staff member who is overflowing with corporate knowledge. But what happens when they go on holiday, leave or retire?

One great way to make sure all staff have unlimited access to corporate knowledge is by creating and maintaining an up-to-date knowledge management system. Knowledge management systems can be anything from your already established intranet to a collaborative online work space.

To make sure your knowledge management system is current and has the ability to provide your staff with the tools and resources they need, here are five ways to improve your system.

1. Invest in search functionality

As content is king, search is the ruler of knowledge management systems. An effective search function will allow your employees to quickly and easily find and share information from your system and will also improve productivity.

In simple terms, staff won’t use your knowledge management system unless it has an excellent search function. After all, when using tools like these, there’s nothing worse than not being able to find what you’re looking for.

A few easy ways to improve your KM systems search function is to:

  • Introduce an advanced search option – advanced search provides a number of fields to further define and narrow down search results.
  • Encourage the use of tags in your documents. Tags are keywords that enable someone to search for all the documents on a particular topic.
  • Conduct a document audit of their tags and search terms – completing an extensive audit of all document tags and search terms can help you discover what key words and phrases need to be included and what tags and terms are unfamiliar to your staff when they are searching for information.
  • Create a good indexing system – once you have finished your audit make sure all documents in your KM system are listed against key words that staff associate each document with. Try and stay away from technical jargon when doing this.

2. Categorise content

Most businesses can relate to their intranet pages quickly becoming unruly with documents, templates and business plans. Re-organising how this content is categorised however can help your staff find the knowledge they need, faster.

Keep in mind that there really isn’t a one size fits all approach to segmenting your system content, but some ways you could reorganise the content on your system is by:

  • Location – this can be beneficial for businesses that have offices or staff situated across different states and territories, with different operational roles and functions.
  • Projects or services – this can be beneficial for businesses that run multiple projects or services.

Whichever way you decide to categorise your knowledge management system, be sure to tackle business needs and make it clear, logical and easy to navigate.

3. Encourage staff to create content

Encouraging staff to create and share content can improve your KM system by creating a database of collective organisational knowledge. Boosting staff involvement in this process can also help ingrain in them that strong leadership is at all levels and that every staff member’s work is important and valued.

A simple way to encourage staff to create and share content is to provide them with a space to upload their current work project achievements and lessons learnt. Spaces could include an internal forum or blog. Content sharing could also be in the form of interactive events such as webinars or live Q&A sessions. The key is to make it interactive and enjoyable so you can gather as much knowledge as possible.

4. Develop a community of practice

An easy way to improve your current knowledge management system is to ensure its content is always relevant and current. To do this however can be a huge task and can require a high level of staff engagement and organisation.

One way to keep your content fresh is to develop a community of practice. A community of practice is a group of staff from across your organisation who will share the responsibility of maintaining and improving the system. They also could be tasked with the job of identifying and managing what new resources, tools or technology could be applied to the KM system to continue it to grow with your businesses needs.

Developing this type of practice also ensures that your system continuously has a number of different knowledge experts to author, publish and review content.

5. Make it mobile friendly

With more people working from home or traveling for work, making your knowledge management system mobile friendly will improve your staff experience and corporate knowledge when out of the office. One way to do this is to design your intranet using a responsive design approach. This approach looks at what type of device your staff are using when accessing your system and then developing the site to fit the screen.

To help get you started when looking to make your system mobile friendly, remember that:

  • Screen sizes are small – this means that you won’t be able to include all information. Pick and choose based on what information staff will need to access when not at work.
  • Prioritise information – what information will your staff need first when not in the office? Place these first and make sure the documents are compatible to be viewed on non PC devices.
  • Font size – size 6 is too small! Make sure all fonts are big enough that users don’t need to squint or zoom in.

Depending on how your current system operates these five tips may be useful or may just be a starting point for a bigger plan. Either way, here’s hoping that they have sparked a new idea for how your staff can share corporate knowledge.