document management concept

What is a Knowledge Management System?

Generally refers to practices used by an organisation to identify, locate, create, represent and distribute knowledge for reuse, awareness, and education throughout the organisation.

Knowledge transfer is one form of knowledge management and has existed through the ages, for example peers and apprentices, libraries, professional training etc. Today technologies such as expert systems, knowledge bases and knowledge repositories are increasingly used to store and transfer knowledge.

Knowledge management or Knowledge Sharing programs are often tied to an organisation's objectives e.g. to gain a competitive advantage, improve performance or share intelligence. The knowledge management programs are concerned with the identification/creation, accumulation, distribution and application of intellectual capital throughout the organisation and in practice can include:

  • Communities of practice
  • Directories
  • Intranets/Extranets/Content Management Systems/wikis
  • Web Spidering and classification systems
  • Best practice guidelines
  • Transfer of skills and knowledge from the experienced to the novice staff
  • Facilitating organisational learning
  • Managing digital assets
  • Winning presentations
  • Business problem solutions

Drivers of Knowledge Management

There are several 'drivers' for organisations adapting a knowledge management program.

One common reason with public sector organisation is to improve service levels without increasing cost whereas with commercial organisations are keen to gain a competitive edge which comes with faster learning and new knowledge.

Knowledge management programs can lead to greater innovation, better customer experiences and a wider acceptance of good practices. Some considerations given to driving a knowledge management program could include:

  • Benefiting from the 'network effect' of staff sharing knowledge
  • Providing increased information in the development of new products and services
  • Achieving shorter new product development cycles
  • Facilitating and managing organisational innovation
  • Managing the proliferation of information

While Knowledge Management Programs are closely related to organisational learning initiatives, Knowledge Management may be distinguished from Organisational Learning by its greater emphasis on the management of specific knowledge assets and the development of the delivery of the knowledge throughout the organisation.

The increasing adoption of Knowledge Management and Knowledge Sharing has lead to the creation of new organisational roles and responsibilities including the Chief Knowledge Officer.

Key Responsibilities of a Knowledge Officer

The main function of Chief Knowledge Officer is to champion knowledge sharing throughout the organisation and where appropriate with clients, partners and stakeholders.

This will include:

  • Promote knowledge sharing through the organisations business processes and systems.
  • Strengthen the links between knowledge sharing and the business information systems.
  • Increase the organisations awareness to sources of Information inside and outside of the organisation
  • Promote the use of collaboration tools such as knowledge trees, activity rooms and knowledge groups to internal teams and external partners
  • Disseminate information about all of the opportunities to share knowledge to all of the organisation and its partners
  • Ensure that experiences of successful collaboration are promoted throughout the organisation
  • Provide support for the creation of communities of practice, business units and networks including guidance, workshops and trouble shooting
  • Assist with the monitoring of Knowledge Sharing programs, suggest ways and means for improvement and publicise the results throughout the organisation.

The Chief Knowledge officer will require the following Skills:

Learning and knowledge: Ability to take on board new ideas and be prepared to share their own knowledge.

Teamwork: Ability to collaborate with others across the entire organisation and acknowledge other persons contributions. Ability to gain support and commitment from all staff without any formal authority.

Communication: Ability to communicate the benefits of a knowledge sharing program to gain consensus and collaboration throughout and beyond the organisation. Ability to communicate sometimes complex issues in a very positive manner and in terms that everyone can understand.

Customer Facing: Able to see issues from the customers prospective and advise the organisation on how to improve products or services.

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