Four Systems You Need for
Knowledge Management

(Hint.  You probably already have a couple)


Knowledge Management is making a big comeback as companies grow more comfortable with remote workers.  Because of COVID-19, remote work is the new normal for many employees.  The days of walking down the hall to get help from a co-worker are over.  As everyone comes to grips with this change, now is the time to modernize your Knowledge Management (KM) system.

It’s easier than you think.  In fact, you probably already have tools that will support your Knowledge Management system.  By simply aligning them with the way people want knowledge, you can easily build a thriving KM system that people will use!  There are four ways people consume knowledge.

One-on-One Coaching

People want to be coached.  That one-on-one interaction is often the most efficient and direct way to impart knowledge on a person.  That’s because it’s very personal and involves interaction between two people.  It’s a dialogue that builds over time.  Simply align the two people and provide a bit of guidance.  They will figure it out.  But, given our remote working world, you definitely need some software to support them.

Software Tools Needed:  Conferencing

Tools like Zoom and Microsoft Teams easily facilitate the coaching sessions.  They have important built-in features like recording, privacy, whiteboards, etc.  You probably already have a conferencing tool, so just expand its use.

Optional Tool:  Wiki or Online Portal

For coaching, one person has skills and the other person has needs.  You need to know who the coaching resources are, whether they are willing to help, and then match them up to the person in need. Plexie is one tool that can help you catalog coach names and skills, along with people assigned to them.  This makes managing coaching much easier.

“It is literally true that you can succeed best and quickest by helping others to succeed.” – Napolean Hill


Team Knowledge Sharing

Productive teams naturally share knowledge and leverage each other’s experience and expertise to solve problems and innovate.  Messaging tools allow teams to naturally share knowledge as part of their projects and everyday discussions.  They are also ideal for sharing tacit knowledge, the experiential know-how that is so hard to document.

Software Tools Needed:  Messaging Apps

The modern worker lives in messaging tools like Slack and Microsoft Teams.  The knowledge sharing happens in the moment and is buried in threads.  This makes it difficult to codify the knowledge, so you may want to setup a distinct channel just for knowledge sharing.  Encourage teams to use it and put new observations and learnings in that channel and you will be able to wrangle in the best knowledge.

Document Resource

Ideally, the best reusable knowledge gathered from any of these channels ends up being documented, stored and made available to anyone at their time of need.  This includes Standard Operating Procedures, FAQ’s, case studies, retrospectives and more.  They may be stored in documents, videos, slides, and web forms.  Your ability to share these resources is at the center of your Knowledge Management system

Software Tools Needed:  Document Sharing

The term “document” in this context isn’t limited to what you write in Word or Google Docs.  Today, Document Sharing systems need to accommodate:

    • All file types. Your knowledge will be in traditional documents, videos, websites and more.
    • All devices. Knowledge need to be readily available on smartphones, tablets and computers.
    • Search. Knowledge is of no use if you can’t find it when you need it.
    • Easy to use. If your system is too annoying to use…no one will.

Older tools like SharePoint, DropBox, and Google Docs will get you 80% there, and are fine to start with.  However, modern tools like Plexie do more than just manage files and folders by allowing you to include your documents in content you create for specific jobs and coaching activities.

Formal Training

This is often separated from Knowledge Management, but it shouldn’t be.  Formalized training ranges from classroom to job aids, short content to deep learning, and can be provided by experts and peers. This distinction is why training should fall under knowledge management.  Some knowledge needs to be formalized, put into a course, and perhaps even tested.    Similar to Document Sharing, training is a good place to put common content needs.

Software Tools Needed:  Formal and Informal Tools

The tools you decide to use for training depend on the size and the complexity of your organization.  It’s easy with a tool like Plexie to take your documents and rearrange them into a curated learning experience.  However, some organization are of the size and complexity that they need dedicated Learning Content Management Systems, like Xyleme.  Many companies also buy subscriptions to Udemy or Coursera for soft skills training.

Knowledge in an organization is like a natural resource.  It needs to be discovered, widely used in an appropriate way, and replenished on a constant basis.  Get these four systems in place and you are off to a great start on your Knowledge Management System.