We’ve all been there before, having so many different projects going on and being pulled in so many different directions. The last thing you want on a busy day is an email as the sun goes down with a bunch of questions that only you know the answer to. But what if there was a simple and effective way to share your knowledge so it was easily accessible to your team, vendors, partners, and maybe even your customers? There is, and this organized sharing of information is called “Knowledge Management”, or KM for short. Here are five signs you need a knowledge management solution so you can get away from answering basic questions and focus on the big picture…
1) People always go to one person for answers – Communication between employees is great and it helps to build bonds of trust. But when it’s one-sided with one employee always answering the questions it can be draining and cause frustration. Instead of having a sage of knowledge, have your go-to person document their knowledge in writing (or even audio/video) so it can be shared with a larger audience.
2) Nobody can find the information – So maybe your all-knowing employee wrote down everything they know, but all the info requests still funnel through them because the documents they created are kept on their computer. Aside from the obvious fact that a computer crash would mean losing that information, you should save the knowledge in a shared location (such as a KM solution) that can be easily accessed by all. A centralized hub with will also help in preventing version control issues with people sharing outdated files.
3) You’re seeing multiple conflicting answers to simple issues – Sometimes the wrong answer, or worse sharing disinformation, can be more harmful to a company than not answering at all. It makes you look foolish and wastes the time of everyone involved. For example, an employee may be telling customers to use the wrong tax classification in an accounting software – it may work for the time being but it will likely cause issues in the future when they realize it throws off their end of year numbers and they have to go back and fix every incorrect entry. A KM solution will give employees an authority source to reference across departments and make sure they are sharing the right information.
4) Employees won’t change the way they obtain information – Old habits die hard. If someone has been reaching out to Sally for five years to get information, they will likely keep utilizing this method until it no longer works (even if you launch a KM solution). Tell Sally to stop hand-holding people and to redirect them to the KM system. If it looks professional, is accurate, and information is easy to obtain, this will train people to stop reaching out to an employee for information. Also, look for a KM solution that is interconnected with your customer support ticketing system so all correspondence originates within the solution and requests to fix erroneous information can be completed in a timely and structured manner.
5) Customers keep asking the same questions – Once your internal staff is educated and less reliant on one or two individuals, it’s time to look at how your customers communicate with you. If you are selling a product and you keep getting tickets asking “how do I charge it?” then it’s time to take parts of your KM solution external. By pointing customers to an online Knowledge Base (KB) constructed from your KM solution, they will be able to answer their own simple questions, saving your support team time and money. Making this transition is easy if you select KM technology that is built for customer support as well.
To conclude, you need a knowledge management solution if employees are relying too much on each other for information, especially for simple inquiries. A KM hub is a location for information to not only be stored but also shared with others as you see fit. One closing thought – a KM solution can be an authority for information but for it to maintain credibility with your employees it should be reviewed and revised frequently. Assign an employee to oversee the knowledge management solution and work with others as needed to keep information relevant enough to continue to provide value to your company.