In yesterday’s post, I provided some tips on how to select the best knowledge management (KM) tool for your organization. Today, the tips continue:

Identify goals / requirements

Every organization should have its goals listed and prioritized and listed so that all stakeholders can better understand how any changes may impact an organization. Employees of all levels and from all business units should take part in discussions around business goals as priorities may vary – and even conflict with each other – depending on the business unit and how they value certain needs. Management needs to balance each of the goals set out and ensure everyone walks away from the table with at least some of their requirements need met. Such discussions can help eliminate serious pushback from organizations or political stalemate within any organization against the acceptance of new processes or tools.

Purpose of the KM tool

Many sales pitches for KM tools often imply such services can practically solve world hunger. Managers should approach such pitches with a great degree of caution and consider whether the tool being pitched really is the answer to what the organization needs. It’s vital to establish the primary purpose of the KM tool during the requirements process and what it’s supposed to specifically solve. Any “nice to have” discussions need to be eliminated as this can lead to wandering eyes and escalating costs to the organization.

Early adopters

As mentioned in my “understanding your workforce” tip, it’s crucial to identify team members that have a keen interest in technology and can be considered early adopters. Once found, these people can provide a vital understanding as to how a new KM tool deployment can affect your workforce. They can provide initial feedback, help steer how the KM service is deployed and how it can better used to meet the needs of the whole organization.

Costs

As with any service, there will be costs to the organization. Management has to gain a full understanding of the three key costs to an organization: monetary, employee gain/loss, and time. These can greatly weigh on the decision to implement a new solution. It’s important for an organization’s management team to measure the changes against costs over time and see, if beyond marginal improvement, such a shift has been worthwhile. Benchmarking can often be done against other organizations of similar size or mission that have gone through comparable changes.

Trade-off

Rarely, is there one software solution which will meet every single one of your organization’s known challenges and it’s important to understand the nuance between feature and solution. Features are actions or offerings which may look nice on paper and the possibilities of use may excite the imagination. However, features can be dangerous for an organization to focus on; management can easily get caught up in feature comparisons and the prospect of what employees do versus what actually happens day to day. This can lead to wasted effort and increased costs. Solutions, on the other hand, directly solve a known problem with measureable results and clear responses from the workforce. Solutions can come from surprising actions or abilities within a KM tool, but it’s clear to management that such a solution solves one of the known requirements defined in the initial goals phase. Once management feels comfortable with understanding such trade-offs, it will become apparent to the organization which KM tool is the best fit for the organization.

In conclusion, there are many KM tools available to organizations, but the best fit for you depends very much on your specific requirements. Management’s understanding of the processes listed above can help eliminate much of the uncertainty around a new implementation. These processes can also spur conversations around new and improved ways for the organization to think and act.

Bryan Vanetten


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