This post originally appeared on Entrepreneur.com - #Growing Your Business
If you want to help your employees and colleagues communicate effectively, take a look at how your shared information is stored.
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In times of deep uncertainty for the business world such as these, knowledge management takes on a new kind of importance. As offices close, open and close again, companies need a centralized location to store their content and information effectively. Carefully designed systems of knowledge management are more necessary than ever, and yet most businesses still have yet to establish one.
Without a knowledge-management system in place, your company’s messaging and policies will likely be conflicting, muddled, and ineffective. With the average cost of PR crises these days hovering at around 15 percent of current stock value, you can’t afford to be anything except for clear and consistent. As you look for ways to lock down your company’s content, make sure to avoid these common pitfalls along the way.
1. Putting the burden on one team
Every team has knowledge that needs to be stored, so every team should participate in the process. Placing the burden solely on marketers or project managers will mean that your company’s content is sorted by one perspective instead of many, making it more difficult for others to access later on.
In addition, the last thing you want when organizing knowledge is to leave one team overworked and therefore underperforming. Sloppy knowledge-management setup will produce sloppy results, and there’s no point trying to manage knowledge at all if it’s not done correctly. Get your whole company to chip into the process; you’ll find that everyone has something to contribute.
Yes, there are more knowledge-management tools available today than ever before, but that doesn’t mean you need for them to act as a crutch. At the end of the day, no one knows the mission and message of your business better than you, so don’t let technology dictate exactly what your system should look like.
Brainstorm with your team leaders what the key tenets of your business’s existing knowledge base are, and design a system based around those. If your knowledge-management platform can’t accommodate what you’ve come up with, find another. Make the tech work for you, not the other way around.
3. Classification negligence
When it comes to breaking ground on your knowledge-management system, leave no stone unturned when it comes to classifying your information. Down the line, you’ll want to be able to know exactly where to go to find something and not have to search around endlessly for the right label — something that could very well happen if you’re negligent now.
Sort what you have by the types of knowledge it embodies or by how it may be used later on. The whole point of knowledge management is accessibility, so label and sort things in a way that maximizes usability across your organization.
4. Ignoring data
Knowledge management is intended to be an all-encompassing thing, and for good reason. You can’t know today what you might need to call upon tomorrow, so always err on the side of inclusion when you start filing existing content into your new system.
Everything you ignore or leave out today will become more and more difficult to access as time goes on. Even if something may seem useless to your business currently, the massive fluctuations currently being undergone by the market should tell you that what you value today may be entirely different from what you value just a few months from now.
5. Lacking strategy
Some leaders view knowledgement management systems as little more than bins in which digital files can be stored, and their company suffers for it as a result. Three in every five employees miss some amount of critical information every single day, and a system of knowledge management that doesn’t have a clearly defined sorting strategy will prevent them from ever having access to it at all.
Before you do anything else, ask yourself what you’re adopting knowledge management for and what your goals are for it. Every decision you make thereafter should conform to this strategy and should be clearly communicated to everyone involved. Transparency now prevents headaches later.
Knowledge management is not a one-size-fits-all thing; every business’s plan will look different. As you generate yours, be sure to put the needs of your team above all else. They’re what’s keeping your business going.