Making a Strong Business Case for Knowledge Management

In today’s hyper-competitive business environment, knowledge has become a key advantage for organizations that leverage it. Therefore, organizations want to manage their knowledge and resources with niche knowledge appropriately. This is where knowledge management comes into the picture. Though every organization is interested in knowing and acting in some capacity to start KM activities, it is difficult to make a strong business case for KM.

In my opinion, the biggest hurdle in making a proper case for the KM is attaining visible and tangible results. Every decision makes in an organization wants to know and see the outcomes in a given period. However, considering the nature and impact of work, the KM activities can take up to 5 years to shape and yield results. This makes KM activities a task of less priority for decision-makers. They would prefer to act on something that produces tangible results in 2 quarters.

Though many IT-enabled tools are available to streamline the KM activities, it still takes persistent and consistent actions by experts, working with almost every department and all key individuals. This can be stressful for the individual leading KM activities and the expert who needs to contribute. Some might even see these activities as distractions and time killers.

KM has a minimal and immediate impact on activities like increasing revenue, decreasing costs, and improving customer service and loyalty. The KM metrics include quantitative, qualitative, and anecdotal methods. Each of these methods has its challenges and disadvantages.

Can evaluation measures help? Yes, to overcome the above hurdles, the helpful approach is an ongoing evaluation of KM activities. These will highlight the impact of KM activities, though in bits and pieces, on the right stakeholders and decision-makers in the organization. In addition, this can showcase the impact KM activities bring to the organization without waiting for the completion of the entire KM project, which is typically a multi-year endeavour.

KM activities must prove that they contribute to the larger organization’s goals. Goals include reducing go-to-market for a product, the sales margin, customer feedback, customer loyalty, and interaction with customer support. These contributions can justify the ongoing efforts and monetary investments in KM activities.

The measurement activities can help convince management and stakeholders that KM adds value to the organizational equation. This is why feedback provided to the management should always be formative (in progress) and not summative (on completion) in nature.

When there is clarity on the measurement part, it clarifies the meaningful measures that directly relate to specific results and objectives that organisation sets. This helps decide the level of granularity the result (measurement) should have. This granularity allows for showcasing the right highlights to the management so that the results provided can encourage them to act.

Reference:

Dalkir, K. (2017). In Knowledge management in theory and practice. essay, MIT Press.


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