When it comes to finding new ways to capitalize on your business’ intellectual assets, there’s no better place to look than knowledge management. Simply put, KM is a definitive method which allows one to tap into what you could say is the most undervalued resource of all – the knowledge, experiences and insights of employees. There are plenty of instances where the adoption of knowledge management practices have led to great successes as well; in fact, most of the major corporations around the world have already put knowledge management to work for them.
At the end of the day however, KM is still about connecting individuals via information and hopefully, a network will develop where everyone involved in business processes will become more closely “coupled”. In other words, it’s clear that KM can improve business on a number of different fronts; the question is “how can we measure these successes?” Perhaps one of the best ways of keeping track of how well one’s knowledge management program is doing is through metrics. Investopedia defines metrics as:
“Parameters or measures of quantitative assessment used for measurement, comparison or to track performance or production.”
Or, to put it more simply; metrics are simply instruments which allow you to measure how well you’re doing in any one particular category. Moreover, each “category” would be something like “total output” or “production”. While it might seem that knowledge management wouldn’t lend itself to metrics very easily, the truth is, it actually does.
One could argue that there are essentially 2 types of knowledge available at any given time in any business:
Precise knowledge – anything that is clearly codified and is thoroughly documented via reports and paperwork.
Implied knowledge – all the information, experiences and knowledge which lies in people’s brains (which they sometimes use) but not everyone has access to.
As you are already likely aware, it is implied knowledge that often helps run organizations and propel them forward into new, exciting and profitable areas. One purpose of knowledge management is to find ways to turn implied knowledge into precise knowledge, to put it bluntly.
Again, by measuring KM potential in several different categories we can capture metrics data which will allow us to further grasp its overall effectiveness. The following 4 concepts can help to build a realistic metrics index which can then be used to measure success or failure. Each of these areas represents another way that knowledge management functions and can be quantified. First we must:
Define – determine what must be recognized as knowledge and how it might be accepted.
Identify activities – any group-based or individual actions which result in knowledge being accumulated.
Collect – all the information that is to be tabulated and data-based for future reference must be collected (so it can also be measured).
Measure the results – once you’ve collected knowledge it’s important to measure the effect it’s having on the entire organization. This can be done by looking at performance reports, productivity charts, etc…
These 4 areas of KM metrics allow us to begin collecting information for a database which will serve as the home for all knowledge accumulated in the future. At the end of the day it’s pretty simple, actually; each step is designed to provide you with another little piece of the knowledge management puzzle.
After a certain amount of time has passed and these processes become fairly standard, a business’ KM pool / database will begin to function as a sort of informational “hub” where everyone can go for the answers as well as the latest updates about something specific. In essence, this is how knowledge management helps to build better business practices – through leaving very little to chance. Similarly, KM is all about capitalizing on what many might have previously called “missed opportunities”. By creating a database of knowledge, businesses are opening themselves up to the possibility that 2 or more people are going to collaborate (where no possibility of such a thing might have otherwise previously existed).
Metrics allow an organization to get a clear look at the direct effects that their KM program is having on one or more areas of business. In most cases, it will be apparent that new avenues of profit are opening up or existing products/services are being improved upon. However, it might take some time before you start to see any major effects take place as a result of a KM program, arguably because it takes time to actually build a database.
One of the hottest certifications to emerge this year within the IT sphere appears to be for knowledge management. Businesses are on the lookout for KM specialists and there’s no shortage of opportunities out there either. For those who already have experience in IT, getting certified in knowledge management is not only a career booster; it’s also a way of diversifying your future options and overall potential. Likewise, when you consider that paltry cost of this type of certification vs. the many potential benefits it offers, it’s a no-brainer – just get certified in it ASAP.