Here’s a sobering statistic - 50% of knowledge management initiatives fail, even with amazing people at the helm. Faced with those kinds of odds, companies often look for help and guidance, and at Seva, we're often asked how to avoid this particular challenge. The answer we give is this - the core of any enterprise productivity project is change management - emphasis on the change. An organization's ability to, along with its members, embark on significant behavioral changes is often cited as the most significant hurdle to adoption. So we believe the greatest barrier to successful knowledge management implementation is change management overhead.
There’s a bright spot...early, proactive steps can maximize your knowledge management project’s chance for success. We want to share 5 of these effective steps to help you stack up a win for your knowledge management endeavor. There’s no better feeling than when a team or company are fully aligned and empowered with great knowledge. (And hey, we're here to help: feel free to get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to know more!)
Timing is critical to success. The problem is, most knowledge management projects are started when business processes are already breaking down, rather than when they should be started. You may have already noticed "red flags" like employee onboarding lagging, Slack suddenly becoming a chatty place for shoulder-tapping, or links being shared in spreadsheets. Knowledge management tends to start organically, and it's up to you to guide it into an accessible, organized final form, and that means starting as early as possible!
Before starting, you'll need to take a step back and analyze your knowledge management challenges. Without this wide-lens view, you risk falling into a firefighting position (e.g., reactionary and short-sighted, getting it done versus getting it built). Well-timed and thoughtfully implemented knowledge management, on the other hand, delivers measurable improvement and productivity - precisely the value and ROI your organization expects.
Knowledge management deployments fail when stakeholders fail to buy in: a classic case of needing to believe in the "product" to make the sale. Believing that buy-in happens automatically is a common misstep in management - you'll need to work for it in order to achieve lasting support. Take the time to understand who your stakeholders are and what their roles and responsibilities should be. Ask questions such as: “Who creates content?” and “Who are content consumers?” Your answers, provided they're given honestly, will help you win over stakeholders in a meaningful way.
Additionally, remember that not all stakeholders are equal in terms of influence and importance. In order for your knowledge management project to succeed, you'll need to lock down buy-in from top-level decision-makers. These individuals come equipped with the ability to signoff on budgetary approval, and where they go, end-users are likely to follow. Not sure how to catch their interest? Focus on and highlight the ways they stand to benefit from knowledge management and use this as a means to motivate them: self-interest is powerful motivation! For example, note that the sales department will benefit from time saved on searching and recreating information, thus increasing time spent selling and quality of sales motion.
You realize your business is growing, and you know in order to keep up with operational demands and to foster continued growth, a knowledge management solution is a need, not a want. There is no arguing - nor should there be - that your IT department will play a critical role in ensuring knowledge management success. Just as important as high-level stakeholder buy-in, if you fail to get buy-in from IT, your transition to a knowledge management solution can end up dead in the water.
Your IT department is trained and equipped to provide support for technical and security implementation. The help with implementation doesn’t end with deploying the knowledge management platform, and it isn’t complete unless you involve them in training users on the platform.
Getting that software up and running and training your users takes time and internal resources. Before you take the plunge, make sure your IT team is prepared for a knowledge management solution project, and be honest about your asks for time and attention. Your candor will win over just as many minds as the possibilities offered by your knowledge management solution.
Knowledge management solutions with slow time-to-value are more likely to fail. Unless you can quickly demonstrate the benefits that users are expecting from your solution, you jeopardize the success of your overall knowledge management project.
Time-to-value is a critical element and an important metric to watch in projects. A knowledge management solution that offers the shortest time-to-value ensures that users get to the “Aha!” moment fast. The value to be gained from the project doesn't start rolling in until after that moment occurs: that's the time that employees and clients alike see and embrace the value offered by a knowledge management solution.
Key Performance Indicators are used to evaluate the true value of knowledge management platforms. By properly leveraging measured KPIs, you can clearly define success and assess the effectiveness of every component in your knowledge management platform. Compare new results to old ones, note where and when performance improved, and identify helpful variables to isolate. The key here is to set measurable goals that are challenging yet achievable. For example, instead of the broad "reducing the backlog of help desk tickets," try the specific “reduce help desk tickets by 30% within 90-days.” while goal-setting.
While no single KPI can represent the success of your knowledge management deployment, you'll still need to identify and track multiple metrics in order to make timely adjustments. As a group, however, a well-balanced handful of KPIs is nearly unstoppable when creating meaningful changes in the way knowledge is created, shared, and used.
Set goals and get baseline measurements of adoption metrics that best align with your organizational goals. Then, after you've implemented your knowledge management platform, look at those same metrics again. Chances are you'll be very pleasantly surprised to spot a repeatable correlation in your data, and one that can be replicated for the good of your company going forward.
We're always here to help. Reach out to us at email@example.com to learn more.
Based in New York City, Seva’s platform helps companies improve enterprise search and content management for Sales, Marketing, and Customer Success teams. Investors of Seva include Avalon Ventures, Bessemer Ventures, Studio.vc, and co-founder and CEO of Datadog Olivier Pomel.