Knowledge Management Challenges

As with any disruptive system or technology, there are challenges to implementing a knowledge management system. By participating in a collaborative knowledge base system, every organization has the opportunity to accelerate their efficiency, productivity, agility, and learning. At the same time, a successful system requires thoughtful planning, and obstacles will necessarily present themselves.

When deployed successfully, a knowledge base will make it easier to find the data you need from qualified SMEs. Yet, even if you buy brand new software, you still need to configure it to accurately meet your company’s needs. As a result, there are a few common problems that tend to emerge.

1. Lack of employee motivation.

Company personnel can often feel overwhelmed with all the processes and systems they’re already forced to use just to get their work done. It may start to feel like they’re expected to continually learn new systems. Once that happens, you can expect both fatigue and burnout.

In addition, employees might wonder if this may be another implementation that is here today and gone tomorrow. As a result, they might not be as motivated to use it. Perhaps they are already comfortable with their own personal systems for finding knowledge. Habits can be difficult to change.

Whatever the case, it is critical to motivate your team to share their knowledge within a collaborative portal. One way to motivate people is to start at the executive level, ensuring the company exudes a culture of learning, changing, improving, and, most importantly, sharing.

2. Technology overkill.

As previously mentioned, updates are becoming all too frequent. Consider the comparison to mobile phones. A little over a decade ago, new models were released on a yearly basis. Now, new models—and operating systems—are updated almost monthly. There is a ton of tech bloat to manage.

It can be very difficult to focus on your core job duties when you have to continually update this system or that. Then, you need to learn a new program, and after that, the new company process that gets implemented.

Staff start to experience the onset of technology fatigue. While the initial changes can be painful, it’s important to remind everyone of how new benefits are realized once all is completed.

3. Making sure knowledge contributions are accurately measured.

While most knowledge is helpful, all knowledge is not created equal. It’s essential to be able to determine which type of knowledge contribution is more valuable than another. Knowledge isn’t easy to quantify because it emanates from both data and varying human experiences. To alleviate this potential issue, focus instead on a shared purpose or a community of practice.

4. Keeping systems secure.

How do you keep your platform secure? A successful knowledge management system should improve learning and innovation within your company—and your company alone. You certainly don’t want this critical knowledge leaking to your competitors or nefarious hackers. It’s crucial to implement a permissions system so that various levels of knowledge are only shared with the appropriate recipients.

5. Instilling knowledge accuracy.

An out-of-date knowledge management is of little use, which is why ensuring its accuracy is nonnegotiable. If there aren’t any rules in place, anyone can enter anything. Just like an encyclopedia, the information should be moderated and verified. To keep the content fresh, set up occasional validation reminders for the original posters.

6. Convincing senior leaders to provide support and funding.

It’s not enough to simply get the staff on board. It’s certainly important to have your employees on the same page. But, if they start to see executives bypassing the system, they may start to wonder if it’s really necessary.

It’s imperative for senior leaders to evangelize their organization’s KM system. They should also publicly demonstrate their usage. To achieve consistency, offer regular communication around how the organization is benefiting from the KM system. Take a consistent polling, and share examples of employee successes. Create case studies to serve in favor of the KM system. And, perhaps most importantly, answer all knowledge management related questions comprehensively.

7. Making search easy.

In the digital age, most of us don’t want to spend more than a few minutes searching for relevant data. One of the challenges here is organizing your knowledge resources so that the search feature works effectively, and the content is relevant.

Address this by adding an “I found this useful” button or even a “like” button. Also, facilitate a means by which content can be tagged as “approved” by an expert source. Then, let users search by date, which knowledge was shown to be most useful, and more.

8. Rewarding active contributors.

Rewards are often a good way to keep employees motivated. When you offer an incentive for your most active users, you set an example for the rest of your team. These are the users who are your biggest support system for ensuring your platform is a success. The more you recognize their contributions, the more robust your knowledge sharing platform will turn out to be.