Knowledge management (often referred to as KM) is the process of creating, capturing, storing, sharing, and managing important data and information across an organization. This transformation of raw data into secure company knowledge ensures that information stays clear, consistent, and concise.
Knowledge management systems are beneficial and necessary for success. Organizations will have difficulty problem-solving, progressing, and optimizing company data without a well-working knowledge management system (KMS) or software.
One of the main goals of a knowledge management system is to make information available to the right people at the right time. When employees spend less time looking for information, they can be more productive. Therefore, knowledge management can increase the value of a company and boost the bottom line.
Knowledge management can be split into three parts:
- Accumulating knowledge
- Storing knowledge
- Sharing knowledge
When information becomes knowledge, companies guarantee that they will be able to continuously build off old processes to improve their performance or create better, newer strategies well into the future. Organizations often use tools in conjunction with their KMS to enhance knowledge management initiatives to aid in this process.
MindManager® is a data visualization and mind mapping software that is easily implemented into a KMS. MindManager lets users quickly capture and transform ideas, information and processes into clear, customizable mind maps, flowcharts, and timelines. Centered around “learning by doing,” MindManager enables users to turn raw data and information into comprehension.
Why are knowledge management systems necessary?
As the marketplace becomes increasingly competitive, storing, categorizing, and managing company data is more critical than ever. The quicker employees within an organization can make decisions and problem-solve, the faster innovation can occur and the more productive teams can be.
Some of the many benefits of a successful knowledge management system include improved:
- Organization of information
- Products and services
- Collective intellectual capital
- Transfer of knowledge
- Development and growth
- Innovation and productivity
- Business processes
Examples of knowledge management systems
Knowledge management systems come in all shapes and sizes. They’re necessary to help businesses organize, capture, and maintain intellectual capital and knowledge repositories. There are two types of knowledge that play a vital role in the success of an organization:
Implicit (internal) knowledge: The combination of ideas, skills, experiences, and abilities learned over time. Typically more challenging to capture and transfer, but highly valuable. Often this is the type of “institutional knowledge” or innate knowledge that long-time employees or workers possess.
Explicit (external) knowledge: Documented information, such as research reports, documents, handbooks, and datasheets, which are easily stored, articulated, categorized, and shared.
Some examples of how and where knowledge management systems are used include:
Manufacturing knowledge bases
As a manufacturer you must have access to vast amounts of information at any given moment. This amount of knowledge is nearly impossible to do without a successful enterprise knowledge management system, such as MindManager’s mind maps.
Manufacturing knowledge bases make it easier for employees to answer questions about products, fulfill orders, handle shipping, etc. An easy way to keep all manufacturing information streamlined is to use a mind map, such as a spider diagram.
Spider diagrams help you to make connections between ideas, explore possible solutions, and visualize concepts that may otherwise be difficult to understand. They enable you to see the bigger picture of a topic or problem and the more specific details.
Knowledge management systems enable governments to capture, store, and manage large amounts of data in a centralized repository. This enables easy access to historical documents and information related to current areas of focus. This data can then be used to identify trends over time, or benchmark performance relative to other countries or jurisdictions.
Enterprise-wide KM systems
Large companies have extensive amounts of crucial information and knowledge that needs to be accessible to employees at all times. Enterprise-wide knowledge management systems work to centralize all data across the organization to achieve collective intelligence so that everyone has what they need to do their jobs.
Using one of MindManager’s knowledge mind maps, such as a timeline or flowchart, organizations can visually represent information in a centralized location. This enables the right company data to be available to the right people at the right time.
6 steps to deploying successful knowledge management system
The knowledge management process has six basic steps accompanied by specific techniques and tools. When followed sequentially, the data and information transform into company knowledge and becomes incredibly valuable to an organization.
Step 1: Collecting
During the initial collection phase of a KM system, management determines the data that will be collected and how they will collect it. Often, organizations will use software that makes it easier to capture, store, share, and manage important data. MindManager can be swiftly implemented into your KM system to help streamline information and store it safely for future use.
Step 2: Organizing
The information stored in step one is only valuable if employees can find it when needed. Therefore, step two is critical to a successful KM initiative.
During the organizing stage, information is carefully arranged using rules established by the company. For example, all customer-related data may be in one database table, sales data in another, etc. Here, organizations can use mind maps to successfully document and categorize different sets of information that makes it easy to draw connections when needed.
Step 3: Summarizing
In stage three, management summarizes information. Rather than relying on individual bits and pieces of information, data might appear in a pie chart, table, graph, or another type of visual. Many companies opt to use mind-mapping templates to make it easy for employees to review data quickly and efficiently.
Step 4: Analyzing
At this point in the process, information is analyzed to discover patterns and connections. Step four is where some of the best gains from KM begin to come to fruition for an organization.
Step 5: Synthesizing
Once data has been analyzed, it’s no longer just a collection of disparate information. Instead, it has actual value to an organization and can be used to improve overall operations. Step five is called the “synthesizing stage,” where information becomes sound knowledge that employees can utilize throughout the organization.
Step 6: Decision Making
In the final stage of the process, decision-making and problem-solving are made possible. Shareholders use the collective knowledge gathered throughout the KMS process to make well-educated decisions about the company’s future.
6 tips for structuring a solid knowledge management system
Organize and segment all information into dedicated spaces in a centralized location in your KMS so that everything is effortless to find.
Include a well-working search feature to help people get from point A to point B as quickly and seamlessly as possible.
A KMS is only valuable if people use it. Therefore, involve your leadership to help you demonstrate to the entire organization how vital this knowledge initiative is.
Ask for feedback from employees and make adjustments where necessary.
Stay consistent in how you share, store, and organize information.
Implement software that enables you to help visualize data and information more effectively and build a solid foundation for your KMS.
MindManager can help your knowledge management system run more smoothly. The visual mapping templates help to enable the capture and transfer of knowledge rather than treating knowledge as assets to be managed. Knowledge management becomes inherent when information and data are displayed visually and collaboratively.
If you’re looking for ways to enhance your knowledge management system, check out MindManager and access our knowledge management e-book or free webinar today!