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The Way I See It.. Optimising Your Greatest Asset


Too few companies record or document the working knowledge needed to run the business. This means that when elements of the business change - employees leave, processes are outsourced or divisions merge for example - the expertise held within the organisation is lost. However, this risk can be managed, according to IT services company ZEDA, by implementing and maintaining an effective knowledge management (KM) strategy.

Jacqueline Costello, Head of Business Intelligence and Knowledge Management at ZEDA, advises companies to instigate a 10 point knowledge management plan based on the following:

1. Decide what you want to achieve - for instance, enabling employees to do their jobs better, guarding against knowledge being lost when employees leave, preparing for an outsourcing arrangement.

2. Determine who you’re capturing knowledge for - will it be for all employees or just specific departments where there is a particular need for greater knowledge sharing?

3. Ask whether the knowledge management solution is just for internal use - or if it will be extended to trusted third party suppliers, partners and customers? For example, customer feedback over service levels could be incorporated, shared with suppliers and goods delivered quicker to improve overall business performance.

4. Decide what knowledge needs to be captured - certain key sections of information such as human resources, payroll, IT systems, customer details and outsourcing arrangements are vital. These operations and the human processes performing them underpin any business. If say, the business relocates or outsources a process, new people will be charged with continuing these functions and they need to have the know how at hand in order to do so.

5. Conduct a knowledge assessment - how good are existing practices for capturing and sharing knowledge? Are employees actively engaged?

6. Locate knowledge bases commonly used and establish if they can be enhanced - how effective are existing measures such as intranets? Are databases being used to their full potential? By making the content up-to-date, engaging, informative, interactive and linking into knowledge held elsewhere into the organisation it becomes more compelling for employees to use and encourages widespread, regular use.

7. Set up a steering group - this will need to be forceful, since there may be resistance from individuals who don’t want to share key information and it must communicate the benefits of knowledge management to get all employees on board. Most importantly, it will need to establish a culture where good ideas are rewarded and employees feel valued.

8. Decide on the technology needed - capturing knowledge electronically enables it to be ‘put to work’ and feed the content of intranets, portals, document management and e-learning systems. Most companies will not have or need all of these, so it should be decided which is the best fit for the business.

9. Establish the framework for the knowledge transfer - determine the timescale and what needs to be done both in terms of procedures and technology implementation for a smooth launch of the new knowledge management system.

10. Once in place, build the bank of knowledge and keep it updated - get people using the knowledge management solution and contributing to it, so it becomes a dynamic and ever-changing source of information. If part of the business is outsourced then the provider needs to add to the knowledge bank to ensure vital intellectual capital remains within the organisation.


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