Knowledge is power. But poor access to knowledge hampers productivity and can prove costly. How’s your knowledge management looking right now?
If it’s not benefiting your business, you need to do it better. Perhaps you’re planning some improvements? Apparently, 61% of field service executives are*.
Check whether you’re making any of the biggest knowledge management mistakes and learn how to gain more power from your knowledge.
Mistake 1: Insufficient vision
You might have a clear idea what sort of system would help your business now, but what about the future? As your operations and team grow, can that system expand to cope?
Think about the software you’re using. Ensure that it’s future-proof and expandable as far forward as you can see.
Any knowledge management system should take a long-term approach, otherwise you’ll be back to square one when your business grows, wondering how to manage things now.
Mistake 2: Lack of top-level buy-in
For a knowledge management system to be fully effective, it’s imperative that there’s a knowledge sharing culture – right from the very top. Key stakeholders need to understand the sheer impact that developing an efficient system can have – in terms of customer service, greater productivity and ultimately, the bottom line.
Mistake 3: Departments not collaborating
Don’t be fooled that knowledge management is the task of one department only; IT or customer service perhaps. All aspects of the organization need to collaborate to make it work. And all departments must benefit from it.
Mistake 4: Excess focus on knowledge collection
Whilst collection and transformation are key aspects of developing any form of knowledge management system – there’s more to it than that.
Not all knowledge is useful knowledge and it’s important to have a validation system in place, to ensure you’re sharing the knowledge that will truly make a difference.
After collection comes application – if you need specialist support at this point, it’s out there for you.
Mistake 5: Ignoring the user
If it doesn’t work for the user, it’s useless. So, get them involved from the start. In fact, ensure a team approach to the development of your system – all interested parties should contribute.
If you’re a field service organization, ask the technicians out in the field what they need and how it should best work for them. Ask them to review and test developments.
If your system is up and running, ask them for feedback – constantly. They will tell you how the system must develop to be at its most effective.
Mistake 6: Not making it mobile
This point is of particular importance to field service organizations. A larger proportion of your users are rarely in the office. And yet they need access to knowledge quickly, wherever they are working.
They will need technical information, diagrams and parts information. Don’t leave them phoning the office to gain this – the loss in productivity, not to mention the job frustration will be huge.
Technology makes it easy to develop a knowledge management system that can be accessed from any mobile device – even offline when no internet connection is available.
Mistake 7: Lack of training and education
Only by using a knowledge management system to its full potential will you maximize the benefits to the business. And that means training.
Older employees might need more time to get to grips with such a change, especially if it’s a piece of new software. Younger team members are likely to be far more embracing.
Whatever the make-up of your team, they need to understand what’s in it for them. How will it help them do their job better? Only then will they want to use it.
Mistake 8: Not keeping it up to date
Old data is of limited help – and could actually prompt more errors. Procedures must be in place to keep your knowledge management system updated – regularly.
Should specialist software be running your system, this will be easier. However, a bank of information stored on a shared drive will quickly become a monster, and dependent on the speed of information change, a vintage one at that.
Know how your system will be updated before you even start to create it.
What will you do with this information?
In today’s fast-moving world, the management and sharing of up-to-date knowledge can seem daunting. That’s why specialist companies exist to guide you through the process from start to finish.
If your system already exists, fix any of the mistakes you’re currently making. If you’re looking to scope out a new system, use the points to shape your project. And harness outside expertise to help you create a knowledge management system that will keep you on the front foot and deliver the best possible productivity.
* According to the Field Service USA 2018 Spend Report, 61% of field service executives are planning to invest in knowledge management tools within the next 24 months.