What does a knowledge management system do for businesses?
The most basic benefit of a knowledge management system is helping organizations collect, store and access information. Beyond the cataloging of important information, there are many other reasons businesses choose to adopt knowledge management systems to address their business objectives.
- Improve new employee onboarding and training by providing a central repository of knowledge.
- Employees with questions, especially those in customer-facing roles, no longer have to wait for an answer.
- Cross-organizational collaboration so that teams are on the same page on everything from strategy to policy to tactical questions.
- Overall productivity boost because employees no longer have to dig through email, chat threads and old company wikis.
There are several types of knowledge management systems that break-down into 3 major categories:
- Internal Knowledge Management is the most common example of knowledge management systems. These systems create an environment for internal employees to share information, documents, knowledge and company information.
- External knowledge management is another example of knowledge management systems, where companies wish to create a community for their customers to share tips, ask questions, and share other types of information.
- Lastly, there are a few Hybrid systems available which combine both knowledge management system examples.
Examples of knowledge management systems in organizations
There are many use cases for knowledge management systems, from developer teams to product management to customer service. Here are some examples to help you brainstorm ways which knowledge management can help your organization.
- Engineering: Software engineering teams are used to Q&A formats and greatly benefit from knowledge management systems by reducing distractions.
- DevOps and SRE teams: These teams leverage knowledge management systems to break down organizational silos and release products faster.
- Data Scientists: Traditionally use wikis but are migrating to knowledge management systems to hold information in a central repository that the entire company can access and self-serve.
- Customer Support: Reduce time to resolution and per-ticket cost by capturing support knowledge and accessing information quickly.
- Product Management: Help product innovation by enabling cross-team collaboration.
Between benefits and use cases, you can see why many companies are adopting a knowledge management system. While there are many types, leveraging software for an internal knowledge repository is a great step in preserving the talent of your organization.
Food for thought... Knowledge Reuse
Companies have tried to show the ROI of knowledge management, knowledge sharing and collaboration platforms. Their first instinct is to look at time and cost savings from bringing these types of systems. But we discovered that many clients didn’t have tools or metrics to track increases to productivity, decreases to cycle times, acceleration in time to market, or if they were protecting institutional knowledge. They didn’t have the systems in place to measure this or they were relying on flawed things like the number of commits or bugs caught.
So we flipped it - what’s the input required to get the output of increased productivity, decreased cycle times, accelerated time to market, and protected institutional knowledge? Knowledge Reuse.
Knowledge Reuse means reusing what others have already learned, created, and proven. It minimizes risk by making standardized information available to everyone and increases effectiveness by reducing repeat work and reducing interruptions. All of which impacts productivity and efficiency, and has protecting institutional knowledge at the core.
Our Knowledge Reuse metric measures the people who come to Stack Overflow for Teams, but don’t ask a question. They found what they needed, in other words, reused existing information from the knowledge base.
We find this is a critical metric for companies because knowledge reuse scales over time - the more information available, the more it’s reused.
And it’s a more tangible outcome than looking at time or cost savings.
Like us, you know that people cost is already a sunk cost. And not all time in an 8 hour day returns equal value to a company.
The real need is to increase the focus, or flow time, of your employees.
- The more flow time, the more aha moments are possible.
- More aha moments relate to more problems or challenges being solved
- More problems or challenges being solved increases innovation, productivity, revenue
This results in more knowledge that can be reused by others in the organization and the cycle starts again. Reusing knowledge is the only scalable way to improve technical skills, increase problem-solving capabilities to drive innovation, and bridge communication gaps.
Taken all together Knowledge Reuse leads to a natural outcome of increased productivity, decreased cycle times, accelerated time to market, and protected institutional knowledge - everything that Stack Overflow for Teams is built for.