With the COVID-19 edges into the rearview mirror, the absolute last thing that any upstart business strategist will be championing is the concept of “disruption.” The entire world already was disrupted. Every company on the planet is adapted to a strange new reality. Even the fundamental assumptions of what a “business” is — a physical office with on-site workers, for instance — changed and will continue to shift in the coming years.
The things that won’t change are the product information, customer data, and unique processes that distinguish your business from everyone else. This company knowledge is often inconsistently maintained, spread out across multiple systems and teams. In fact, many companies don’t even have a formal knowledge management system. Instead, team members rely on the memories of individuals to know how all the pieces fit together.
In the turbulent, unpredictable, and insanely competitive days ahead, this wealth of knowledge is going to be essential for your company’s success. All it takes is the loss of one key employee, the failure of one software tool, or the breakdown of a single workflow to bring things to a grinding halt.
If your company doesn’t have strong knowledge management systems in place, this lack of access to vital information is going to be an ongoing problem.
Here are five reasons to rethink your company’s knowledge management systems.
Most workplace inefficiencies happen because people tend to focus on their individual set of tasks. They are not proactively thinking about what happens at the next stage of the process, and don’t realize that making even a few small changes could make things much faster and easier for those working further down the line. A well-maintained knowledge management system allows everyone to see each stage of the process, making it that much easier to identify efficiency-killing lags, delays, and other problems.
It’s only natural for people to instinctively protect the information they need to effectively do their jobs. Unfortunately, this impulse tends to result in crucial information being hidden away in silos, becoming inaccessible to the rest of the company. Customer knowledge that could have helped the company avoid a disastrous sales strategy might be locked away in a customer service database, for instance. In the post-COVID-19 shakeup, your company simply can’t afford to keep these barriers up. Your knowledge needs to be available through a well-managed and carefully planned system.
It’s all too easy for your company’s teams to end up becoming cliques. The customer service team just doesn’t have a good reason to talk to the product planning team. The outside sales team really isn’t interested in what the IT team is up to. Even the department heads may only have a rough idea what’s going on with the rest of the company. Now consider a situation where customer service is facing a serious problem with their CRM, and, as luck would have it, outside sales had a nearly identical one just last year that they solved through some clever custom fields. If those two teams never talk, the company will lose twice the time and money solving a single problem. If there was a knowledge management system in place, finding the solution would be as simple as looking it up.
The COVID-19 crisis has made one thing perfectly clear: many people prefer to work remotely whenever possible. One of the side effects of this is that workers can’t just drop by their manager’s desks with a quick question. To do their jobs effectively, they need a centralized, regularly updated knowledge hub that can be accessed from anywhere.
Onboarding new employees is expensive, and as a result most companies tend to train new workers on just the essentials. Everything else has to be learned on the job. When there’s no central knowledge repository of the tasks and workflows of that job, however, the result is often an incomplete and inconsistent level of training and expertise. Given that the future of your company is going to depend on the competence of your employees in a rapidly changing world, a well-developed knowledge management system may be the smartest investment you can make.
To learn more about how Faye can help your business create knowledge management systems it needs to thrive in these unpredictable times, call us for a free consultation.