Top Characteristics of a Successful Knowledge Management System

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Your company has many critical resources that help it run more efficiently and grow so it can reach its long-term goals. These resources include everything from the software and training programs you have to the employees that work for you and the skill sets they bring. You need a knowledge management system to help you keep track of and make the most of these assets. Not all systems are created alike though. You need to think critically about what the available systems can offer you and then do your research to find the right fit. Here are some top characteristics that your system should have to ensure you are getting the very best:

Ease of Use for Fast Adoption and Comfort

Any knowledge management system, just like any software platform or other piece of technology, needs to be easy to use. Otherwise, employees will feel intimidated or overwhelmed by it, causing them to avoid it. Even those who are more tech-savvy can become frustrated by a system that is not easy to use, which will undermine their productivity and eat into their morale. Look for a system that is as easy to use as possible. Ideally, employees should be able to start using it with little to no training at all. They may need training for the advanced features, but they should be able to start using the program without assistance. Not only will an easy-to-use system make employees feel happier about using it, but it will also speed up the workflow and improve productivity. Employees won’t have to waste a lot of time on training or on searching for the information or the tools they need. They can hit the ground running and doing exactly what they need to do in less time.

Customization that Allows Employees to Access Information On-Demand

Everyone will need to use your knowledge management system for different reasons, and everyone will have their own preferences for how they want to access the information. A successful system will be customizable so that everyone who uses it will have that flexibility to get what they need and how they need it. Customization can be something as simple as being able to change the font size or the colors on the dashboard so that the information is easier to read and more pleasing to the eye. However, the best systems will have advanced customization options, such as changing the layout of the system, adding or taking away features that are needed or not needed, and so on. Sometimes, systems can be customized before they are purchased so that all stakeholders in the company have the same necessary features. Sometimes, systems come with the ability to be customized as needed by individual users. Research your options to know exactly what’s included and what’s available for customizing so that you can be sure you are getting the right features for all users, from entry-level employees to the top leaders in your company.

Cross-Platform Accessibility that Ensures All Stakeholders Can Get the Information They Need When They Need It

We are an increasingly mobile world, and workers are less likely to be sitting at a desk in a single office from 9 to 5 every weekday. We have employees working in multiple locations, traveling to meet clients and partners, working from home full- or part-time, and working in a variety of other non-traditional arrangements. A good knowledge management system needs to be accessible to all employees in all locations, and that means it must work on numerous platforms, including all types of computers, cell phones, tablets, and other smart devices. Most software solutions are designed with this need in mind, but you should not make any assumptions when you are shopping. Always ask about the platforms on which the software works. In some cases, it may be possible for the company to make some alterations that will allow the software to work on certain platforms where it didn’t before. This may be part of the customization that the company can create. Just ask the vendor to find out what’s possible.

Collaborative Functionality that Allows for Peer-to-Peer Interactions

We are social creatures. Not only do we need others for their companionship and insights, but we also need them for learning. The best knowledge management systems will include the ability to collaborate with co-workers and managers for continual learning and the best application of the knowledge available. The system can include options for collaborating online or in person. For example, it may offer opportunities to create presentations for group learning or for publishing ideas in a company newsletter. The more options for collaborative learning that are available, the better.

Opportunities for Recognizing the Top Contributors and Influencers

It’s essential that you routinely recognize the top contributors and influencers within your organization. Doing so will motivate employees and leaders to exceed expectations and to push the limits of their own potential – which will not only make them feel great about the work they are doing but will also help make your company the best it can be. You can use the right knowledge management system to recognize employees in this way and to promote a culture of excellence in your workplace. The easiest way to do this in the system is to highlight the top contributors and influencers as resources. Promote them in title, and routinely refer to them for their expertise. Employees using the system will quickly learn that they are the people to ask for when they need help, and those influencers will feel more important because of it. You can also use the system to write profiles about their contributions, to assign them prestigious roles as mentors or trainers, or to cite their work in the field when providing authoritative information. Get creative to find the best ways to recognize the people who are making such a difference in your organization.

Research Your Options and Choose Carefully to Get the Right Software Solutions

No matter what kind of software you need, there are going to be dozens of options. You can’t pick a knowledge management system just because others recommend it. You need to choose based on thorough research and careful consideration so that you get the system that will best meet your needs.
Jason is the Lead Author & Editor of TrainingStation Blog. Jason established the Training Station blog to create a source for news and discussion about some of the issues, challenges, news, and ideas relating to training, learning and development.