January 7, 2013
Important knowledge isn't shared. Users are unsure where to find information, whether on the file server, in sharepoint, in email, on the intranet site, in the training manual, or perhaps you just need to ask your team leader. Important information too often languishes in email, and is then slow and hard to find. The central knowledge repository is out of date and incomplete. There is no one single place where you can search on all the available corporate knowledge on a subject. Initial training of new staff takes longer, time to competency is longer.
Knowing exactly where to go to find the required information. Ability to find that information quickly in the moment of need. Ability to quickly read and understand the content when you find it. The knowledge must be written with the end users in mind. Not duplicating information, which risks the possibility of different versions of the same document being accessible. I.e. one single source of truth, and reference it from other places when required. Ideally, senior management must recognise and accept the importance of corporate knowledge, and support the tools and resources required to capture, store and serve it. Good knowledge management allows the same knowledge to be served in different ways, potentially using different devices and platforms, to different users. A company's corporate knowledge is often its real competitive advantage, but they often don't realise this. Capturing business processes in flowcharts does not in itself constitute good knowledge management.
I have been a technical writer for many years and now work for a company that builds a business process guidance solution, combining software with writing methodology to deliver the right information to the right person at the right time.