How to Measure Knowledge Management Strategies
Whenever you try to implement a new strategy or system for your company it is always very important to create measures and bench marks for your progress. This allows you to see if your strategies are effective, which areas need to be worked on and how to progress into the future. Also, this gives you evidence for when your boss asks you how the new KM strategy is doing!
The following is a simple strategy you can use to measure the current effectiveness of KM and use this as a bench mark for the future!
Getting onto the same page
The first step is sometimes the most likely to be missed when it comes to KM planning. If KM is new to a company, some employees will not have any idea what you are talking about and will be unsure of how to give useful feedback. For example, I had an executive once tell me that their company had ‘never really gotten into Knowledge Management (KM), all we ever really did was use an online forum to discuss ideas and help each other with their problems’. It can be hard to check the status of something if now one knows what it is called!
This is why the first step is to create company wide definitions of what Knowledge management, knowledge sharing and what knowledge management systems are. These can vary hugely in the academic and industry literature. So the definition itself is not so important, as long as everyone is using the same definition!
Finding the Bar
This stage is used to get the feel for how the company views and uses KM. What you will need to do is use a variety of tools to collect information on how the company has used KM in the past and what its current form looks like and how it performs. Every company on the planet uses KM, no matter how informal it looks. This can be done using surveys, focus groups, interviews or mystery shoppers (well… mystery knowledge users). If you use surveys and focus groups, it is a good idea to explain the definitions again before you get started.
Setting the bar
Once you have a reliable idea of how the company operates in terms of KM, you can now begin to plan for the future. Hopefully you have seen the problem areas of your company and how to improve KM to help match the company’s business strategy. In the future you will now have a clear picture of where you started but more importantly on where you are heading.
Looking to the future
Once you have achieved your benchmark, you should congratulate yourself on a job well done but this is not the end! You should now repeat the ‘Finding the bar’ step, with a focus on the qualitative feedback. By using this and the qualitative data from surveys, you can now steer your KM strategies onto bigger and better things. It is a good idea to do the surveys and focus groups at least every 6 months or before any big KM decisions. If it is a new project, maybe try to get continual feedback.
What can you do today?
Have a look at the following strategy. It’s quite simple but should allow you to use this as a baseline for the future.
- Form a small informal survey for the target group.
- Start with demographics questions. For example:
- Which department do you work for?
- How long have you worked here?
- Now you want to get a basic feel for the KM effectiveness of the company. Remember to stick to the agreed upon definitions of KM and to personalise it for your company. Here are some questions to gauge KM, simply use a ‘strongly agree’ to a ‘strongly disagree’ scale. These are from academic literature, so feel free to liven them up a bit!
- I am satisfied with the availability of knowledge for my tasks.
- The available knowledge improves my effectiveness in performing my tasks.
- I am satisfied with the management of the knowledge I need.
- Employees are encourages to share knowledge.
- Individuals are valued for their individual expertise.
- Individuals are encourage to ask others for assistance.
- Start with demographics questions. For example:
- Form informal focus groups to chat about how they see KM at the company. Look for the demographics who have been with the company for more than two years. Try to take key quotes about its status. E.g. ‘The intranet is very useful’ or ‘I can’t find anyone who knows about XYZ’. This is also an opportunity to get ideas for the future about what they could really use.
- Create a benchmark report for future use. Nothing too long, just with the relevant details. For example: Satisfaction rate is 80% and a common issue was the intranet was a ‘pain to use’.
Putting it all together.
Using these strategies you can now get a reliable status of the KM in your company. Using this you can set benchmarks for future projects and focus on key problem areas. Also this data will allow you to show how well your projects are going and how much of an impact you have had.
This is just a simple outline of just some of the possibilities. Feel free to add to the complexity and customise to your industry. Remember not to go too overboard with the level of detail. Your goal is to improve KM in the company, not to make everyone hate it before you have even started! Good luck!