Knowledge Management Process: Benefit + Challenge + Life Cycle Model

“The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance; it is an illusion of knowledge.”

– Daniel J. Boorstinerror

Is your organization planning to enhance staff productivity, improve the product and service quality?

Knowledge is a boon for any organization running in any sector. The knowledge does not matter to the audience you target, products, or services you offer; instead, what matters is the Knowledge Management process you apply in your organization.

An optimal knowledge management strategy will ensure that you are not living in the illusion of knowledge and can refer to your content management database as an integral part of knowledge assets.


Basic Operations of KM

Basic Operations of KM

Skandia initiated the first Chief Knowledge Officer (CKO) position, which became the boon for other companies to treat knowledge management (KM) practice as the main base of their organizational structures. It becomes quite a mandate to follow best practices of knowledge management systems as initiated by Ikujiro Nonaka and Hirotaka Takeuchi.

They formed academic research on the SECI model (socialization, externalization, combination, internalization) to deal with knowledge creation, knowledge storage, or knowledge transfer. It results in making an appropriate decision to apply the right and new knowledge management strategy for your organizations’ decision making.

The Knowledge Management system operates with the same steps globally to make accurate business decisions to create a piece of new knowledge. Nowadays, many organizations plan the knowledge base of the overall workforce as per the following consideration:

  • Navigation support using multiple searches and improved decision-making capabilities
  • Internal communication and collaboration
  • Performing accurate analytics and optimization, most commonly referred to as Lessons Learned terminology.

It becomes a prime emphasis to access knowledge to enhance business growth and create an inspiring environment for knowledge acquisition, policies, and human capital resources as critical assets.

  1. Collection

    The knowledge management systems depend on this base step and require special attention. The data accuracy must be perfect and not irrelevant, as it directly affects the KM strategy. So, make sure that your supervising ability is ideal for verifying the source of your information.

    Appropriate planning and techniques are available for workflow documentation to deal with resources to collect the tacit knowledge or explicit knowledge from varied sources.

    As per the knowledge management systems, specific data collection points are available for staff members to enhance the business efficiency. For example, you might be compiling the daily attendance reports through a biometrics attendance machine, and the sales report might be in the form of physical receipts.

  2. Organization

    Just collecting the data is not enough, and you also require to arrange the data in a systematic order, meaning it is easy to understand or use. You can divide the data as per the category of the information (sales data in a separate file, staff details in another, purchase reports in another) or your organization’s knowledge management process.

    You might even use various techniques like normalization in your knowledge management systems to ensure that all the data is categorically in the correct place. In this way, you can easily arrange and relate data to the projects. Once this step is complete, raw data turns into information.

  3. Summarize

    In this step of knowledge management systems, you demand to summarize the information to give the fundamental essence from it. It is easy to understand lengthy data points when representing it in a tabular or graphical format and to store knowledge properly.

    For summarizing, there are many tools available, like software packages, charts, and various techniques.

  4. Analyze

    In this step of your knowledge management systems, you need to analyze the information and find any relationships, redundancies, or patterns present in the data available.

    It is better to assign a team of experts to this management knowledge strategy because experience and expertise are essential. After analyzing, the team of experts creates different reports with their analysis process.

  5. Synthesizing

    It is a crucial knowledge base platform of your knowledge management systems that quickly transforms your information into explicit knowledge. To derive different concepts from the data, you can combine the analysis reports.

    It is also possible to apply one entity’s pattern to explain another and thus obtain a knowledge element that you can use across the organization’s resources. It will help you improve your KM systems and organizational learning strategy.

    The organizational knowledge base then stores this tacit knowledge whenever you want to use it in the future. More often than not, the knowledge base is software that you can access from anywhere and any mobile device. As long as you have an internet connection, you will be able to access the knowledge database without any problems.

  6. Decision Making

    At this stage of knowledge management systems, you may use the knowledge in the database to make decisions. The decisions could be essential and crucial decisions on which your company could be dependent. Or the findings could be everyday routine decisions that help you with management and running the business efficiently daily.

    For example, suppose you are calculating an estimate for a specific type of project resources. In that case, you can easily make use of the data that you have, which is related to previous calculations support—estimating a specific type of a project or a task.

    It helps you speed up the learning procedure and transfer knowledge quickly, which is the estimation process in this case. It also gives a higher percentage of accuracy to the results by using previous results and minimizing the chances. Thus, the organizational KM strategy adds a lot of value and helps your company save time and money if you look at it longer.

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Core Components of KM

Components of Knowledge Management

Knowledge Management includes the four essential components: people, process, content/IT, and strategy. No matter what industry you work for, the size it has, or the knowledge requirements your organization possesses, you require people that can lead, sponsor, and support knowledge sharing for you as well as your projects.

  1. People

    Are you aware of the phrase for a “golden triangle” – “people, process, and technology.”? Many organizational leaders have used this concept since the early 1990s to guide initiatives and lead to organizational change.

    According to the journal of knowledge management from New York, your decision-making initiative typically fails if you concentrate only on a single factor. Based on their research, it has been found that the order is an essential aspect as you must have the right individual in front of you before proceeding into learning processes and technology.

    To initiate a Knowledge Management practice program, two categories of people come into action:

    • Senior Authority: To avail sponsorship and broader organizational strategy
    • Cross-functional stakeholders: For implementation guidance and need to consult with your colleagues in HR, IT, and process improvements to a great extent.

    To select cross-functional stakeholders, consult with your colleagues in HR, IT, and process improvements to a great extent.

  2. Process

    The organization that possesses the KM system handles the knowledge flow, just like water supply. If anyone needs the data, they can just open the tap and grab it quickly. Only the KM teams are aware of the active procedure or the flow the learning organization needs.

    This component’s key responsibility is to identify the bottlenecks, flows rerouting, and calculate required inputs and outputs. But the end-user is entirely unaware of the knowledge capture process that runs behind the scene of knowledge management systems.

  3. Content/IT

    Content is a magnificent form of documented knowledge that can efficiently assess the best practices of knowledge management systems to share off-the-cuff tips amongst workers working in the same organization.

    Content is typically kept separate from IT because of infrastructures’ role to enable an individual to create this stuff, put it somewhere, and access and reuse it.

    If the organization does not have support for knowledge management systems, people will make appropriate use of content—but they’ll put it in places where the other staff cannot find it easily. It can also re-make things that others have already created, and most dangerously, reuse the same content that’s out of date or incorrect.
    An impressive KM program consists of workflows to create and access content, various techniques to organize content, and using technology tools to connect people to content.

  4. Strategy

    Business strategy plays a significant role in the knowledge management systems for any organization. If the proper and responsive decision-making approach is not available, you are nothing even if you possess the best technology tools and a super-smart KM team.

    There is an excellent saying by Kenichi Ohmae, “Rowing harder doesn’t help if the boat is headed in the wrong direction.”

    It means that a solid business case is a must that can easily demonstrate a deep understanding of your organization’s knowledge needs. The business case should outline:

    • The Value proposition for KM
    • The Tools, approaches, and roles
    • An attractive budget
    • The expecting impact of KM (ROI)

    So, the core components enhance your business strength if fulfilled clearly. Now let us highlight the benefits that KM uses to reach your business state to the next level.

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Benefits of KM

For any business running in any sector, Knowledge management practice is just the perfect solution if applied correctly.

A perfect knowledge management solution includes appropriate document management, data mining, interactive blog posts, and interaction using impressive community forums in their enterprise portals.

To enhance your business support, it becomes of primary importance to understand the maximum benefits your organization can grab using the special knowledge management systems to a great extent.

Best services that improve your business strategies

  1. Team Boosting and Employee Alignment

    By adapting knowledge management, the team members or resources must be in perfect communication and collaboration with other members to enhance their business growth, communities of practice, and knowledge sharing.

    It leads to easy work for resources’ to remain on the same page to complete the pending or running tasks smoothly and helps to minimize the redundancies to a great extent.

    With help of the knowledge management process, it becomes quite helpful to the employees to know of their decision-making efforts to enhance the business growth to reach the goals.

    As per the recent survey of TinyPulse, this makes an employee spend more time working with the assigned duties to recognize the business’s effectiveness and have more commitment towards success for their business.

    Once knowledge of management is applied correctly, all your company members will continue to work toward a common objective for impressive outcomes.

  2. Enhance Team Productivity

    In 2019, the TSIA survey said that around 72% (44% of responses from outside of technical support, 15% from customer success, and 13% from professional services.) of the organization believe in improvising their knowledge management practice efforts for business productivity.
    By making an appropriate usage of the knowledge management process, the employees can:

    • Quickly access the document management covering the best practices to follow and instruction steps to deal with specific tasks, communities of practice, and other resource factors.
    • Efficiently do communication and collaboration with one another in a real-time scenario.
    • Make an appropriate usage of any available tools and technology to reach their primary goals.

    More chance that your team expert can get run out-of-scope, which leads to losing sight of where they were working and not applying knowledge management practice in your organization.

    So, when you include knowledge management in your business plan, it becomes a perfect roadmap for the employees to provide complete awareness and insight from the lessons learned of the varied tasks and functions from previous projects to perform in the upcoming future.

  3. Retain Knowledge Within Your Organization

    When a senior employee or a valued person resigns, finding a new employee who takes care of the same role and responsibilities becomes quite challenging. The key reason is that they have quite good and impressive support experience dealing with the task or activity area.

    Employee’s loss creates a significant gap in the organization’s workflow and productivity. And hiring a new employee is quite tedious to reach the former employee’s productivity for at least a year—and maybe more.

    How to overcome such issues?

    • Effective KM offers knowledge transfer or knowledge storage functionality to minimize the damage and fill the workflow gaps affecting your business when an employee leaves.
    • KM also makes employee onboarding easy.
    • KM allows the employees to quickly grab the advantage to know the next recurring steps to follow.

    Finally, it can be more tedious to capture the proper tacit knowledge; it can easily document it “in action.”

    All the previous employees’ interactive data, including video demos, impressive portfolios, and other knowledge-based activities, possess tacit knowledge to be taken into consideration.

  4. Offering Added Value and Enhancing Customer Experience

    The customers can avail the benefit of knowledge management in two ways. The creation and delivery of the articles specifically for self-service purposes work typically as customer-facing knowledge.

    It helps them navigate to any of the service or product pages without any team member’s assistance to improve customer and enhance business growth. KM handles customer inquiries and makes it easy for the customer to grab any knowledge about their queries.

    It leads to spreading happiness among the customers by spending less friction during these engagements within the organization. These two benefits usually help the employee in the following ways as mentioned below:

    • As the customers can quickly resolve any smaller topics on their own, thereby leading to fewer supporting tickets for the same.
    • They usually have additional time and energy to invest in solving the complex problems requiring a more practical approach on their end.

    Only your customers who ultimately finalize it to grab benefits from your knowledge management efforts for any such cases are the real contributors.

  5. Continual Growth Based on Knowledge

    Nowadays, almost all organizations focus primarily on gaining business growth in delivering the best product or service to their leading clients in this competitive world. So, it becomes apparent that your business should be more prioritized on knowledge support, thereby enhancing your team members to opt for better results.


Challenges in Knowledge Management Processes

Knowledge Management Challenges

Usually, when talking about the knowledge management systems, it becomes quite a mandate to understand its critical steps during such operations.

  • Knowledge Discovery & Detection
  • Knowledge Organization & Assessment
  • Knowledge Sharing
  • Knowledge Reuse
  • Knowledge Creation
  • Knowledge Acquisition

Now, let us highlight the main challenges that any business faces when knowledge management comes into action.

  1. Security Concerns

    Your data is essential to your organization, and it needs an ample amount of security to ensure confidentiality. It helps your customers build their trust in your brand and stay loyal to you without any fear of leaking data that occurs by mistake.

    Using knowledge management operating procedures and tools, your data is safe and secure and helps you create a higher brand value, keep your data safe, and ensure that customers stay loyal to your business process.

  2. Improving Organizational Culture

    Office politics is a common thing that hinders growth and productivity in many corporations. It results in the hoarding of data and a break in the flow of sharing knowledge too within the organization.. Managers often face this type of resistance in their teams or resources when setting up better knowledge management operations.

    To prevent this from happening, managers want to develop a culture of learning, growth, sharing and changing to better the organization. A team that can adapt to change quickly will find that they can rapidly adapt to new activities and the latest tools.

  3. Accuracy and Reliability

    One of the more significant challenges to maintaining a repository of knowledge is ensuring the tools’ information is all up to date and accurate. If a crucial data point is inaccurate, it will be problematic for everyone to access the tools for sharing knowledge.

    To ensure accuracy, you will need to keep a check on the knowledge base articles, and as the number of data increases, you might even require a person to keep a check on the same full-time. However, in the initial steps, you can set up regular reminders and tools to ensure that everything is in place.

  4. Staying Ahead with Management Technology

    No matter what tools or technologies you use, you should expect regular updates or new versions. However, it might be challenging to keep up with all the support tools and constant new updates. However, you need to remember that updates usually come in when there is something better in store. These tools will help you achieve more and do things better than you were doing before.

    Now that you know the type of challenges you might face as a manager or owner of an organization, you should also understand the life cycle of knowledge management systems.

  5. Enhancing People Motivation

    The core challenges they face are getting all the workers working in the same department to run them on the same track for any organization. It becomes quite tedious for individuals to calculate a measurement to handle the operation to store and share the data.

    Usually, the people, especially developers, find it quite cumbersome to handle the application building’s complete coding structure. They demand to share the code with other employees to enhance team motivation and efficiency of the project.

    It works well if we apply for proper training on knowledge strategy, creation, knowledge transfer, maintenance, reporting, and changes between the users.

  6. Calculating Knowledge Contribution

    Knowledge is a vital asset in everyone’s life. It entirely depends on the human relationship and expertise level that how you apply knowledge. Sometimes, it becomes quite challenging to match the expectation of one person with another.

    For any organization, knowledge sharing must be kept open for all the employees. In simple words, one employee must contribute its knowledge to other workers with a primary aim to share the purpose rather than waiting for the outcomes.

    So, these were the challenges that occur during the development of the knowledge management process.

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Top 4 Knowledge Management Life Cycle Models

Knowledge Management practice Lifecycle is nothing but a procedure that transforms the information into specific knowledge.

Take a look at these four models in-depth to understand the basic knowledge management processes and the best practices to follow.

  1. Wiig Model (1993)

    Wiig Model

    Founder: Karl M. Wiig

    His knowledgement management cycle addresses the approach that an individual or organization personnel takes for building knowledge repositories or databases. The KM practice model addresses the firm as a whole and includes business areas in almost all organizations.

    According to the Wiig model, three conditions should be available in an organization to do business successfully. They are as follows:

    • They have a business (service or commodity) and customers.
    • They have specific sets of resources (people, budget, facilities).
    • They have the strength to act.

    This knowledge manager model states and relies on the fact that it should adequately organize by using the right tools if you want the information to be useful.

    However, the knowledge management process flow also outlines how to build, store, pool, and then extend the data as knowledge. There are four major phases in the KM model, namely, produce, hold, collect, and apply knowledge. Let’s take a look at them in detail below:

    • Building knowledge
    • Holding knowledge
    • Pooling knowledge
    • Applying knowledge

    Karl Wiig proposed his KM model in 1993, and some of the critical elements that he suggested were:

    • Connectedness: Describes the relations between various knowledge objects
    • Completeness: Describes the amount of relevant data, information, or knowledge available from a particularly given source.
    • Congruency: Judge the congruence of knowledge management tools based on all the facts, concepts, perspectives, values, judgments, and connections.
    • Perspective and purpose: Organize most of your knowledge by applying the dual dimensions of perspective and sense.
  2. Zack Model (1996)

    ZACK Knowledge Management

    The Zack model derives from working on the design and development stages of knowledge management. The major developmental phase of a knowledge repository in the knowledge management process requires analysis and then mapping to a KM model’s steps.

    In the Zack model, the phases are somewhat similar to the Wiig model. The main stages or locations of the Zack KM model are acquisition, refinement, storage/retrieval, distribution, and presentation.

    Acquisition of Data

    Determines the quality and accuracy of the information on hand.

    The data includes various knowledge objects such as where does the firm acquire materials from and what are the specifications for the materials such as scope, sizing details, credibility, accuracy, a timeline of the information, relevancy to the other knowledge objects, cost, source, exclusivity, and additional details.

    For example, let us imagine running a cloth manufacturing factory and buying raw cotton for making these clothes. You might be having many vendors for natural cotton, and each one of them gives you a different specification and quotation for the same amount of cotton. Even the quality, type, and delivery dates match each vendor, yet the reference is different.

    Moreover, in the acquisition stage, the Zack knowledge management model’s guiding principle is “Garbage In, Garbage Out.” It means that people should get the proper training and information technology (IT) support to understand the process and get it right.

    It helps ensure that any data mining they put into the information system is correct and relevant for you to get the results that you desire from this model.

    Refinement

    After acquiring information, you need to store it but keep in mind that not all information is stored. You should convert the data into various knowledge packets so that storing the data becomes more comfortable.

    The knowledge retention type that you use depends based on the requirements of your organization. For example, Physical improvement applies when you migrate from one medium/location/software to another.

    On the other hand, you should apply logical refinement when restructuring the information into preset formats. Your company can also use this step when indexing and integrating any data into a more extensive data group.

    Cleaning is applied when you are getting rid of redundant information or duplication. You may even utilize it for removing unnecessary parts of the entire package of details.

    Standardization is another type of refinement that will help you in tailoring all information into predefined templates. It will help you make it easy to compare and improve the usability of the data.

    Storage and Retrieval

    Although knowledge management software is replacing traditional storing information methods, many enterprises even store their files, folders, and other printed or written information forms.

    You can utilize this information during the stages of product creation. For example, data necessary for recipe and label creation, packaging, and other activities.

    Distribution

    In this stage of Zack’s knowledge management process, you need to define the various recipients of the information and the mode in which they will receive this information. The methods can vary from mails, prints and any other type. You will need to specify the timing and frequency at which they will receive the information and the form and language of the data.

    Presentation

    Presentation is the final step, and after this, the information is nothing but knowledge.

    The presentation overview of the information in the knowledge management procedure depends on the complexities of your organization. You will need to consider the recipients too for this stage. Each recipient has a particular need for the different parts of knowledge that they will receive. By tailoring and packaging experience for each group of recipients, you will see an increase in your business productivity.

    The final users of the knowledge generate feedback. It will help you continuously improve your knowledge sharing behaviour and data repository by adding new elements and knowledge, removing redundant and irrelevant info.

    The Meyer and Zack knowledge management model is one of the best models covering the entire organization and gives a complete picture of a robust KM practice model’s competency element.

    However, if you have a vision for the cycle to work as intended, there are some knowledge prerequisites that you will need to provide:

    • Front end: rules on how one can identify source information, acquire the same, refine it and add it to the repository properly
    • Final stage: rules and information about copyrights, confidentiality, attribution to help understand how knowledge sharing is to take place for distribution and usage.

    In the refinery model for managing knowledge repository or database, your organization will need the support of:

    • Core supervising capabilities in Information Technology
    • Internal information about the business or the company
    • External knowledge about the current trends and market status
    • The organization’s management and organizational systems

    The strength of this KM practice cycle lies in the refinery and renewal of info.

  3. Bukowitz and William Model (2000)

    Bukowitz and William Model

    This knowledge management model builds upon the previous two. It expands the definition of knowledge sharing and storage to include the infrastructure to support the organizational learning communities. Various knowledge types are recognized in this framework and include databases, communication infrastructure, technologies, organizational skills, and other knowledge.

    Bukowitz and William also emphasize in their KM practice systems the need to maintain the repository and build it. The various phases in this knowledge sharing management model are: get, use, learn, and contribute.

    1. Get Stage: You need to acquire specific information that will help you in making decisions, solving problems, or creating new products or services.
    2. Use Stage: You need to combine the features in various ways. The data could be an individual or group in a way that is easy to use in the future. The knowledge will be useful for the innovations or renovations of various operations in your organization’s KM processes.
    3. Learn Stage: In a business environment, whenever you extract or share knowledge, new knowledge is automatically generated. It does not matter whether the venture is successful or a failure. By doing this, you and your firm get multiple benefits. It will help you ensure that the same mistakes are not repeated when you are working on some other project similar to it.

    4 Contribute stage: Employees are like the cogs in a wheel. Hence, your knowledge management procedure must include contributions from the employees as well. In the Bukowitz and William knowledge management procedure, the employees continuously date the database and the knowledge repositories.

  4. McElroy Model (2003)

    McElroy Model
    McElroy, through his knowledge management processes, shows concern with knowledge production and integration. By doing so, he is building upon the process focus of the Bukowitz and William knowledge management model. It helps create different ways for your employees or the resources to submit claims when they don’t receive or fail to understand knowledge.

    It is an effort to improve group organizational learning and contribution by the teams. The phases in the McElroy model are learning, validation, acquisition, integration, and completion.


FAQs

The following are the list of points that need to consider before creating a KM strategy:

  • Enhance cross-discipline awareness about KM practice.
  • The Business case should be informative and can example, identify potential benefits.
  • Acquire senior management devotion for leadership
  • Communicate good KM practice

You will come across multiple knowledge management examples that help you grab the smooth-running KM strategy in your organization to enhance business performance.

  • Evernote
  • Canva
  • Instacart
  • Slack
  • Amazon

The knowledge Management Cycle (KMC) includes:

  • Identify/Create
  • Store
  • Share
  • Use
  • Learn
  • Improve

KM is the platform that quickly identifies, organizes, and even shares its knowledge with each other. The Knowledge Management field typically covers two critical types of knowledge.

  • Explicit knowledge: Knowledge that is easily articulated and understood, and transferred to others.
  • Tacit knowledge: Knowledge that is difficult to neatly vivid, package, and transfer to other members.

Conclusion

Which process suits the best for your business to adopt knowledge management?

A knowledge management framework is one that captures all the relevant aspects of knowledge management with appropriate detail. As organizational needs vary, you must choose the right knowledge management model and tools to not waste time and resources in capturing irrelevant data.

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