Making KM a Habit: Why Knowledge Management (KM) is a Must-Have for Today’s Firms

Date: 
Wednesday, February 21, 2018
According to a SHRM study, Fortune 500 companies lose roughly £25 billion a year by failing to share knowledge. Firms recognize that it is crucial to break the barriers of silo-working and share knowledge effectively to succeed, however rarely prioritize Knowledge Management (KM) from a ‘nice-to-have’ to a must-have. Firms must make it a regular habit to think about their collective knowledge and establish channels to share it across the teams.


 


Most firms today are project-oriented, focusing their attention on reactive cost-cutting and driving business outcomes.  Assembling an organization’s vital knowledge in a structured manner is essential to the success of today’s projects.  Yet, this is where most firms falter.

Comments like “we cannot afford to spend time on Knowledge Management”, or “we don’t have the budget” are all too common. To change this thinking, it is important to take a step back and consider the requirements that lead to achieving the business results more quickly and effectively.  

Most would agree that we must have the ability to learn from our experience and rapidly adapt to the global marketplace.  As unTwitter worthy as it sounds, Knowledge Management is the key.

Knowledge Management as a practice, allows us to capture knowledge for reuse, diagnose and learn from the past.  Institutionalizing it allows firms to capitalize on their Intellectual Property, which in recent times has become more important to the firm than its physical assets in maintaining their competitive advantage.
 
Acknowledge KM Structure needed at Project Inception

At inception, a project business case will make references to the objectives, stakeholders, and expected ROI, yet Knowledge Management is rarely documented as a consideration.  In today’s interconnected and fast paced environment, with many mediums for communication and disparate tools for collaboration, defining a framework and consistent approach to capturing and assembling explicit knowledge regarding the project is essential.

Assembling vital knowledge in a structured manner is essential to the success of a project.

Pcubed’s default approach to Project Definition and Setup includes putting a Knowledge Framework in place early to capture, assimilate and share knowledge. One must acknowledge at Project Inception that a structure for Knowledge Management is required for Knowledge Management to ever be successful.  Not only is it important to have a plan in place for Knowledge Management, step 2 is actually consistently executing, or building on that plan.
 
Mitigating a Knowledge Vacuum

One of the most pertinent examples for why you should execute Knowledge Management is to mitigate a Knowledge Vacuum, or the loss of knowledge.  According to a Gallup 2017 poll, 51% of workers are ready to leave their current jobs.

Moreover, the typical productivity cost of an employee leaving the organization is 85% of their basic annual salary, due in part to the mistakes their replacement can be expected to make, but also, and critically, to lost knowledge2.  

A typical off-boarding experience is characterized by a flurry of documentation, rarely read, and rushed transitions without time for asking the real questions, as firms deal with a general lack of resources in an ongoing war on talent and inconsistent processes supporting knowledge transfer.

In a recent Pcubed engagement, a client vendor who had been on the programme for several years, was in the process of being off-boarded. Off-boarding that vendor meant losing all the tacit knowledge, valuable to both the business and technology functions. Pcubed had implemented a Knowledge Management Framework, making it mandatory for vendors to carry out a planned review of their knowledge assets (documents) produced during delivery of the engagement at regular intervals and publish on the client portal.  Establishment and implementation of Knowledge Management at regular intervals helped ensure the client’s intellectual property was retained.

​Firms must make it a regular habit to think about their collective knowledge and establish channels to share it across the teams.​  Institutionalization of a framework is just one way to make KM it a habit. 

Check out the next article in our series for tips on how to Manage and Sustain the building of a Knowledge Management culture within your teams.

References:
1 Babcock, P. (2004). Shedding Light on Knowledge Management. [online] SHRM. Available at: https://www.shrm.org/hr-today/news/hr-magazine/Pages/0504covstory.aspx.
2 Beazley, H., Boenisch, J., & Harden, D. (2002). Continuity Management: Preserving Corporate Knowledge and Productivity When Employees Leave. New York: Wiley
 


Sharath Kumar is Pcubed Senior Consultant and Knowledge Management Officer. He has over 12 years of experience delivering IT projects and solutions for around 20 clients globally. He has worked with a diverse range of public and private sector organisations including Fortune 500 companies such as Ford Motor Company and Aviva. Sharath currently works in a Portfolio Function reporting to the divisional COO in a Tier 1 bank.


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