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Benchmarking Knowledge Management Success – Does Your KM Measure Up?
By ExecutiveBrief Staff

A thorough understanding of the interaction of human and technological assets can bring about successful knowledge management programs.

Successful KM programs begin with a thorough understanding of how human and technological assets interact and support the transfer of knowledge throughout an organization.

The process of assigning the appropriate employees to complete specific tasks is a much more complicated proposition if a business has the goal of success in mind— and what business doesn’t want to stay ahead of the game? There is much more to consider than just people when it comes to managing knowledge assets in the business environment today. It is also critical to recognize that the proper technologies must be available for management and employees alike if they are to perform to their fullest potential.

By commissioning the best-suited employees to carry out specific functions, a company can position itself to maintain its competitive edge. It is essential to do this, now more so than ever, in a world where business is conducted globally and new businesses are created—and dissolved—on a daily basis. Knowledge management involves identifying the people you need and the proper technology to be used as a resource for finding them. Another key to successful knowledge management is staying informed as to what technology is required by these personnel in order for them to perform their job functions efficiently and successfully. When the most capable employee has access to the most beneficial and effective software for the task at hand, a powerful combined force is created.

Intellectual resources should be aligned for the proper representation, innovation, communication, integration, and completion of any task. This is a process that can prove to be a challenge in itself; however, when the needed amount of time is taken to research how this can be achieved, the results are well worth the effort. The core of an organization is made up of its strongest leaders, who are called upon continually to deliver results. These leaders must be equipped with the appropriate electronic resources in order to access and communicate the information that is critical to their daily tasks. Why is ensuring that the necessary accessibility exists for a business so important to its ability to be successful?

With the right combination of staff and technology, a treasure of performance can be discovered. This is what proper knowledge management is all about…integration of the right pool of informed workers, with each pool led by strong leaders so that the gears in the company machine run with ease. Each and every worker, not just the leaders, must have efficient access to the information they need in order to be able to deliver on their responsibilities. Without knowledge management, a company can be left fumbling in the dark for the tools they need vs. implementing effective knowledge management and getting the greatest result from their resources. If the technological resources are not available, the entire company can be hindered in their efforts to produce results.

The performance of organizational leaders is reflected in their own staffs, and strong guidance is a requirement of effective leadership. Just as each player on a team has a crucial role to fill, each member of a staff has an individual importance. And in the modern organizational environment today is the added element of technology and software, which is utilized across the business in order to meet the need for operation on a global scale at ever-increasing speeds. An effective leader serves as a steady guide for their staff through the many changes taking place for the duration of a project, and a strong team leader knows all of the best resources of intellectual capital, whether it is in computer or human form, or any combination of the two. Either way, a strong team means any and all goals can be met in a timely and organized fashion. In the business environment, this equates to financial rewards and growth.

A variety of tools and processes may be used to discover where your best resources lie. The key requirement for uncovering your best assets is to conduct research. Not only must research be done electronically, but it is equally as important to reach out directly to experts to learn and understand knowledge needs as well as applications. Communication is the key when gathering and deciphering such research. It may help to engage professional human experts who can effectively represent an enterprise in safeguarding intellectual assets. These individuals most certainly should be competent in several areas. They must know and understand the functions of the enterprise, where the expertise resides, what resources are being used and leveraged successfully, and what areas may be in need of improvement. They also must understand the nature of its content and how it is managed. Additionally, they should have a good understanding of the appropriate technologies to be applied in leveraging the content and be able to work with information technology in a collaborative fashion while directly representing the business interests of the stakeholders. The importance of knowledge management and technology transfer as keys for success in today’s business is commonly undervalued, and these areas are too often under-resourced areas of institutional focus. Failure to adequately leverage human resources and their knowledge means wasted and misspent time and technology for the business.

Consequently, knowledge workers struggle to find answers to routine and complex questions.1

Knowledge transfer helps to get a company’s resources updated with the latest and upcoming technologies in the industry, and this information is further utilized for company and staff development. Successful companies are those that are truly creative and perpetually generate new knowledge with innovation, with the realization that knowledge is the new engine of corporate success. It is a fundamental requirement for a business to measure, manage, and develop knowledge assets. Intellectual property asset management and technology transfer are the keys to unlocking success in today’s complex business environment with continually changing policies and trends.

In order to make best use of managing knowledge assets in efforts to maintain a competitive edge, it is important to have continuous interaction of leaders and project managers with their respective teams for knowledge transfer. Also essential is to have documentation of these experiences and the projects executed. There must be effective communications in managing knowledge assets, and companies may choose to hold knowledge-sharing sessions, in addition to sharing software programs and other internal knowledge management efforts.2

Technology certainly has its place, but people must be able to translate and apply the information it manages, or risk it losing its effectiveness. The technology is not capable of producing results on its own, and if people were left without technology, business would not be able to keep up with the needs of today’s market. Therefore, ensuring that your people are properly trained and knowledgeable about specific tasks, as well as equipped with the much-needed tools to perform their functions, will position them to bring any task to successful completion with the greatest result.

When your people are equipped to carry out their own job functions and have the knowledge to empower those around them, not only can team leaders guide more effectively, but individuals can command leadership over their own work—and this is especially valuable in a project-based environment. This is made possible by proper access to and integration of software and communications—not only internally, but externally for your customer base. With confidence and communication, each task is completed with ease.

For your organization to learn to utilize all of its resources to their greatest potential, it will require research and likely also some time and trial and error. Eventually, you will have the knowledge to immediately recognize when a process or system is not working, as well as exactly where improvement is needed—whether it be in the information technology or your human resources. More important, you will have the tools to make the necessary adjustments. All of these efforts ultimately lead to more timely delivery on goals and improved overall efficiency.

Technology certainly can make it easier to access, track, and communicate the information used throughout the business on a daily basis. Smart leaders realize the importance and take control of knowledge management. By having knowledge of intellectual properties and managing such assets effectively, they will have established a framework for success, for their teams, their customers, and the overall business.

2According to Lynda Moulton, a 30-year professional in the industry of knowledge management and principal in LWM Technologies. Lynda is currently working as lead analyst the enterprise search practice of the Gilbane Group.
2According to Dharmesh Acharya, operations head of Radixweb. Dharmesh brings more than eight years of experience to this discussion.

© ExecutiveBrief 2008

ExecutiveBrief, the technology management resource for business leaders, offers articles loaded with proven tips, techniques, and action plans that companies can use to better manage people, processes and tools – the keys to improving their business performance. For more information visit us at: http://www.executivebrief.com.

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