Do you have a knowledge management program at your organization? If you do, I am sure that you have spent some time scoping what goes into this program. The most frequently cited definition of knowledge management, according to KM World, is that “knowledge management is a discipline that promotes an integrated approach to identifying, capturing, evaluating, retrieving, and sharing all of an enterprise's information assets. These assets may include databases, documents, policies, procedures, and previously un-captured expertise and experience in individual workers."
Knowledge Management involves IT but is much more than just another IT function. And it’s much more than search and indexing. COBIT 5 extends the KMWorld view by suggesting that the management of knowledge is in fact a business process. COBIT 5 defines the process as maintaining the availability of relevant, current, validated, reliable knowledge to support all process activities and facilitating business decision making. To me, this puts the focus more upon the use of knowledge than the acquisition and discovery of knowledge. COBIT 5 continues by saying managing knowledge needs to include planning for identifying, gathering, organizing, maintaining, and retiring knowledge. But what then is the goal for this process? COBIT 5 suggests it is to provide the knowledge to support all staff in their work activities and for informed decision making and enhanced productivity.
Put even simply, enterprises need a knowledge management strategy that enables “knowledge workers,” informed decision making, and increased productivity for leaders and workers alike. The former head of Business Objects Bernard Liautaud calls this “information democracy” in his book e-Business Intelligence: Turning Information into Knowledge into Profit.
Goals for knowledge management
To improve knowledge management, COBIT 5 suggests IT operations measure themselves against four process improvement goals. Let’s explore each of these along with their recommended metrics to get a better idea of how to improve knowledge management on an ongoing basis.
1. Sources of information are identified and classified. This is the basic blocking and tackling that an enterprise search and knowledge management tool should perform. Three metrics are used to measure success against this: percent of information categories covered, volume of information classified, and percent of categorized information validated. The trick for the first two items is to reach across enterprise information available. Knowledge validation refers to the process by which new “knowledge claims” are subjected to peer review and a test of value in practice. As knowledge is reused on a regularly basis, we want to make its reuse more efficient. Think of areas like IT customer service or outbound technical support.
2. Knowledge is used and shared. Clearly, an effective knowledge system is used and creates new knowledge demands. Two metrics are recommended: percent of available knowledge actually used and number of users trained in using and sharing information. These two metrics work together. Knowledge typically is not used if it is not clear how to find it. So you should not just invest in a tool, you should invest in user training.
3. Knowledge sharing is embedded in the culture of the enterprise. Sometimes effective knowledge management requires organizational development. This means the involvement of senior leaders to break down silos and insure knowledge and people with knowledge are not hoarded. Two metrics are recommended: level of satisfaction of users and percent of knowledge repository used. These are pretty obvious metrics. With all things COBIT 5, the user perspective is essential.
4. Knowledge is updated and improved to support requirements. Knowledge cannot stay static. It is always growing. And if does not stay current, there’s a lack of business intelligence. One metrics is recommended: frequency of updates. This should be clear and obvious.
So where should you start?
As always, my suggestion is that you start where the most immediate value can be driven. But if it were up to just me, I would start with the sources of information are identified and classified. I think of this as really the first level of control. What do you think? What would be first on your list? I would love to hear back from you.
Blog post: Making COBIT 5 part of your IT strategy
Solution page: IT Performance Management