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Summary:

Sharing institutional knowledge can be a huge pitfall for many organizations. If you need to make sure that different people in your organization have access to the knowledge that keep your organization rolling along, arranging for some sort of sharing mechanism can be difficult.

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Sharing institutional knowledge can be a huge pitfall for many organizations. It’s easy enough to slap up a project management tool and start collaborating on the enterprise level, but if you need to make sure that different people in your organization have access to the knowledge that keeps your organization rolling along, arranging for some sort of sharing mechanism can be difficult. The process of doing so, of sharing information across multiple members of your organization, is known as knowledge management.

Choosing institutional knowledge tools

Picking the tool your organization uses for knowledge management can be complex. There are a variety of approaches to knowledge management that different tools take, from simply letting everyone add information to a shared database to a carefully curated and approved set of knowledge. It can be a question of what works with the tools you already use, what can manage the types of information you need to keep at hand, or even what is available to you. Two organizations told us what lead them to make their decisions.

Angela Carr, the VP of information technology for the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International (AUVSI) works with AssociatioNet, a version of the Presto knowledge management application designed specifically for use by associations. She told us,

AUVSI’s vision is to be the focal point for information and updates on the unmanned systems global community. That means we want to be the preferred resource for information seekers: academia, researchers, scientists and the media. We chose AssociatioNet because of its ability to streamline the information gathering process and link this abundance of information with AUVSI member data. The system allows [us] to provide additional benefits to . . AUVSI member [companies] by showcasing the[m] alongside important research. In addition to features . . . that . . . improve staff and organization productivity, AssociatioNet provides a low cost of ownership, flexibility, ease-of-use and rapid deployment that differentiates it from other, more costly and cumbersome tools available.

Ken Carroll is the mentoring network administrator for URS Corporation, which uses Triple Creek to manage knowledge. He describes the choice:

URS [has a] wide scope of services and highly specialized talent, [so] intentional learning and knowledge transfer are strategic priorities. Triple Creek’s solution is dynamically aligning and matching our talent to the immediate learning needs across our organization. Progressive organizations like URS and Triple Creek create ah-ha moments at every turn. Our latest ah-ha moment is to pair Open Mentoring with our classroom training events bridging the gap between learning and execution. The ability to keep the group connected as they apply the learning concepts allows these peer groups to speed up learning by asking each other questions, collaboratively solving problems, and reinforce the concepts learned in the classroom. The partnership we have with Triple Creek is a competitive advantage for URS.

Institutional knowledge management is crucial to ensuring that businesses continue to thrive even if that one coder who’s the only guy that knows how the software was created or that one saleswoman who knows how to perfectly sell the main product leave the company. Across different companies that we’ve talked to, the main criteria for choosing a knowledge management tool are:

  • Ease of use. A knowledge management tool isn’t worth anything if you can’t get people to use it.
  • Specialized knowledge. In many industries, the types of knowledge that must be managed vary dramatically. Even something as small as the ability to upload video can make a world of difference for some industries.
  • Technical management. Setup can be a crucial issue, especially for companies without large IT departments. So can connecting a knowledge management tool to the other software an organization already uses.

How does your organization manage its institutional knowledge?

Image courtesy Flickr user cybershotking

  1. We use Evernote and shared notebooks for the most part. We’ve been looking into using Google Sites.

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  2. Check out CoKnown.com – The consumer version available now. Business & Enterprise version is coming within a few months. It will handle everything this article describes and more.
    FYI – I’m the CEO of CoKnown. If you consider this comment inappropriate, please delete it. Thank you

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  3. “The process of sharing information across multiple members of your organization” is known as information management. You need to move way beyond “putting infomration in a database” for it to be knowledge management.

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  4. Totally agree with you, Nick. Sticking a lot of info in a big database is not ‘knowledge management’. KM is assessing where expertise and wisdom are today, forecasting where they should be (now) or need to be (in the future) and creating and executing plans to capture and transfer that knowledge effectively. The biggest hurdle I see implementing KM is too much complexity and bureaucracy. Instead of being dynamic and responsive to the org’s needs, it becomes a dull, centrally-driven function akin to training and documentation, i.e., a task that people grudgingly do, that quickly becomes outdated.

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  5. Knowledge Management: Choosing a knowledge management tool http://t.co/7kSzo7HL

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