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Lately I’ve been occupied with creating a personal knowledge menagement system with Evernote. While I am huge fan of collaboration and tools that we use in order to work efficiently in the team, I’ve came to conclusion that majority of companies are lacking proper knowledge management solution. Success in an increasingly competitive marketplace depends critically on the quality of knowledge which organisations apply to their key processes.
There are three major parts of knowldge management that need to be handled in order for system to work properly and in order to have actual benefits from it.
First major activity is: Data Entry
If you don’t feed your database with proper information, that is relevant to your business, there is no knowledge management. User adoption of knowledge management systems is poor, because there is no adequate corporate culture that will motivate people to contribute to the database. Hence, because of lack of habit, majority of knowledge management projects fail within first couple of months of attempt to implement the project.
How to overcome the burden of data entry user adoption? My main idea is to make a system part of a daily activity. If main activity is shooting, responding and reading emails, maybe all emails should end up in data base, with a single click. For example, your company has a specific software and employee is shooting an email explaining the newcomer on how to use it. That praticular piece of data is reusable information. If it’s not captured in the knowledge management database, it might be lost forever.
So next time your company expands, new user that might have actual benefit on that tutorial will have to reach out for some coworker that is already familiar with the software and take time to teach him or write another explanatory email. That time could be very well spent elsewhere.
Second Major Activity: Database organization
This is the area of knowledge management where we can see the power of this young discipline. While I was developing my own personal knowledge management solution, I came up with a concept of Knowldge Dashboard as a visual representation of the database itself. Knowledge dashboard should be visually similar to mind mapping, just appropriately organized, so that someone who is new to the topic, intuitively understands what is located and where. Beside having knowledge dashboard, there should be contextual and syntaxic organisation of information, so that users of the database can call in for appropriate information intuitively and accordingly. Tags, emerged in past couple of years as a great substitute to old school system of folders.
Neglected moment, when it comes to tagging is colors. I have serious problems when dealing with systems that don’t offer colored tagging. Gmail offered colored tagging for their label system, which made it ten steps ahead any other mail platform out there. It helps me easily remember the tags according to their color. Not only it looks better to human eye, it also appeals to our memory.
Problems of databases? Main problem of knowldge databases, is that nobody access them. Most of those manuals are awesomely organized, but huge problem is that they aren’t appealing to the users. Good example for bad implementation of databases are horrible looking files that no one looks at.
Third Major Actitivity: Consuming the database content
Not only that the organisation needs to have the culture of capturing knowledge, it also has to have the culture of using it. So here’s the example: How many times did you have a new employee asking questions instead of applying the “RTFM” rule (read the f**** manual).
Framework of knowledge management is yet undeveloped enterprise solution, but with great potential. It’s something that will cut the cost and improve overall performance of the company. Setting up this framework shouldn’t be expensive and solid foundations should be set up, from the get go. Even if you are small start up company. The sooner you start with implementing your knowledge management system the better.
If you are an Evernote user on iOS, make sure to read these tips on URL schematics for Evernote.