How to Implement Knowledge Management Software Successfully

Knowledge is power. But like any powerful tool or team, it must be managed well. 

Knowledge locked away in one person’s head does the wider team no good. And if that person leaves, their knowledge isn’t just gone; it may soon reside with one of your company’s competitors.

Keeping information not just with the company, but shared with the entire team requires knowledge management software. When more of your team has access to more information, everyone wins. 

Among companies using knowledge management software, 47% report an increase in sales. Knowledge management software helps salespeople better align customer expectations with the team’s capabilities. The result is a better experience for users, and for your team. 

But knowledge doesn’t manage itself says Steinberg Goodman & Kalish. Implementing a knowledge management initiative takes time, a detailed roadmap, and patience. Here’s where to start:

1. Know Your Objectives

Knowledge management can improve communication, inform product development, and more. But to get what you want out of it, you need to know your goals. 

Could marketing and sales be more aligned? Is consistency an issue on your customer service team? Does your IT team not understand your product team’s needs?

Each of those gaps can be solved with strong knowledge management. But you have to prioritize: Instead of asking employees to brain-dump, tell them where to start. 

Ask yourself: What type of knowledge most needs to be shared? Who has it right now, and who needs to know it? 

2. Identify Key Players

One reason why knowledge management software is so popular is because it improves collaboration. But for that to happen, you need to know your key stakeholders.

Appoint a project manager, and identify “nodes” through which information flows. The manager can put together a plan with information-rich employees to extract and organize their knowledge.

Not only should this manager encourage employees to share their knowledge, but he or she should teach them how to do so effectively. The manager’s goal should be to make the experience seamless for everyone. After all, a knowledge management initiative won’t work if employees don’t participate.

Start by explaining the benefits of sharing knowledge. Once the initiative is underway, ask the manager to provide the team with updates so they understand how it’s helping the company.

3. Start Slow

As with every initiative, the execution should happen in phases. Before you start, re-visit your objectives and tailor a roadmap to those goals. 

Your roadmap should include each phase and key milestones. Each milestone should include clear success indicators, such as “Product development mistakes are reduced by 10%.”

Whatever you do, make sure your roadmap doesn’t just focus on “the end result.” A successful one highlights small wins, as well as big ones, to encourage teamwork. Learn from mistakes that occur, but don’t dwell on them. 

By working in phases, your organization has a chance to identify best practices and make changes. Plus, it’s difficult to assess the effectiveness of software if you implement it all at once. 

4. Be Generous With Praise

Getting your company’s knowledge out of employees’ heads and into a central database is no small feat. As your initiative progresses, help employees see the good work they’ve done. 

Remind employees of the “before” picture. Emphasize that it’s due to their hard work that communication is easier and your product or service more consistent. Thank them for their help in implementing the initiative.

Give special recognition to your key players. Consider treating them to something special, like an afternoon off or a lunch out, for their hard work. Recognize them in front of the entire team: Peer recognition is one of the easiest, most effective incentives available to you as an employer.

What if things aren’t going as planned? Don’t panic. Change doesn’t happen overnight. And chances are, you’ll have to make some tweaks along the way. 

5. Improve in Increments

Just like your company evolves, so will your knowledge management initiative. You should be making changes grounded in employees’ feedback every step of the way.

Perhaps you learn that knowledge curation should happen by committee. Maybe the customer service of the software you chose isn’t up to par, so you need to switch. 

As you make changes, don’t forget to train your team on them. A new software interface may be tougher for some to navigate than others. And you can’t expect people to follow a process you don’t explain to them. 

There’s no denying the many benefits of knowledge management software. Not only can it increase productivity, but it can potentially cut costs by reducing errors and miscommunications. With said, new software is only as successful as the initiative surrounding it. 

When implementing knowledge management software, you need your team on board. Show them the benefits and make the switch easy, and they’ll wonder why you hadn’t done so earlier.