COVID-19 has totally disrupted the way that most startups and small companies do business. Within the space of a few months, small business owners have had to scramble to maintain solvency. Leaders have had to navigate online sales, manage remote teams, and create consistent messaging to customers.
Many companies are still playing catch-up and strategizing for this post-pandemic world. With all the unpredictability of our current climate, it’s more important than ever to stay organized. While it won’t solve every problem, now may be the perfect time to invest in a knowledge management system.
Here are six signs that it’s time to create a knowledge management plan for your business:
1. If company knowledge is siloed:
Business owners and CEOs have long attempted different methods for creating knowledge databases. Departments have a tendency to silo their information inadvertently and create barriers to company-wide productivity. Company wikis, while incredibly useful when done well, tend to lack employee buy-in. After all, it takes a lot of time to think about everything you know and put it down into words.
A knowledge base conveys the same information as a corporate wiki but takes far less effort. Knowledge management systems work across platforms and as browser add-ons. They utilize AI to gather the information as it’s being generated. This technology reduces work for your employees while also increasing company-wide utilization. Creating democratic access to knowledge is the best way to tear down silos and gain actionable insights.
2. If you want to boost productivity:
Hewlett-Packard’s former CEO, Lew Platt, said, “If only HP knew what HP knows, we would be three times more productive.” Each one of your employees is teeming with facts, experience, tips and tricks, and technical skills. The difficult thing is figuring out how to tap into that knowledge and unify it to create a whole picture. A 2017 TSIA survey reported that 70% of organizations believed that a knowledge management system would boost company productivity. When various minds and perspectives can access shared knowledge, seemingly random data can take shape into a clear picture.
Again, a knowledge platform does a lot of this work for you. Data from every platform and department stream into one authoritative source. Imagine if everyone had on-demand access to every relevant piece of information from across the business. Each department gains insight into customer FAQs, the sales cycle, IT memos, etc. Implement these procedures now, while your business is still young and small. You will create a knowledge-formed culture that will reap the benefits for years to come.
3. If your teams struggle with communication:
Do you have certain employees or departments that consistently feel out of the loop? Is your IT team impossible to reach? Are your employees getting told two different things depending on who they ask? With a knowledge management system, every employee has access to the same hub of information.
If someone misses a meeting or didn’t hear about a new policy, she now has a place to catch up. A knowledge management system creates an official residing place for all business information. If details are frequently slipping through the cracks, a knowledge management solution will be a great fit for your startup.
4. If your employees work remotely:
Good knowledge management has always been important, but now it is vital. Since COVID, 64% of workers report having worked remotely. 49% of remote workers have expressed a desire to continue working from home even after the pandemic. Knowledge management is the virtual means of walking over to a co-worker’s cubicle and asking a question. A robust knowledge management system can use AI to sync information from emails, Slack messages, and memos. Ideally, all company knowledge can be accessed from any employee’s living room sofa.
Once knowledge is synced to a central location, people won’t have to spend all their time asking or answering questions. Instead, they can do the work they were hired to do. As your employees work and communicate online, knowledge management AI will help them upload and download new insights as needed. Knowledge management is the perfect solution for remote workers to communicate effectively and work productively.
5. If you need to simplify your training process:
A knowledge platform also makes an excellent onboarding tool. New employees can gain deep insight into how each department functions simply by reviewing knowledge bases. Operating procedures, company policies, marketing material, and more are all available within the same system.
This also serves a second purpose of employees always having onboarding documents at their fingertips. Almost every company question can be answered with a simple keyword search. Especially if half your workforce is working remotely, a knowledge base will prove invaluable to new hires who are naturally going to have a lot of questions.
6. If your business uses several different platforms:
We have all experienced the frustration of toggling between several programs, trying to glean insights from the spread-out data. 82% of leaders report using five or more apps or knowledge sources on an average workday.
If your startup stores data in several different programs, a hub that syncs all your information will help bring order. Find your company a knowledge management system that integrates across platforms. The ability to access all of your information in one central location will save you headaches and time.
If nothing else, 2020 has taught us to prepare for the worst. While company-wide organization has always been important, creating a central knowledge bank is now more crucial than ever. None of us know yet what the business landscape will look like in the coming months or years. The best thing you can do for your business is to have all your ducks in a row. Begin with streamlining company knowledge, and let that knowledge show you what to tackle next. A knowledge management system won’t fix every company problem, but it’s an excellent place to start.