To make good use of organizational knowledge, you need a systematic approach – the right tools to execute your strategy effectively.
Are you currently researching which knowledge management tools present the best return on investment (ROI) for your business?
Then you’ll want to take your time to read this article carefully.
Within the next few minutes, you’ll discover EXACTLY how by using these recommended WordPress plugins, you too can equip your staff with a winning knowledge management advantage.
The concept of knowledge management is not novel by any stretch of the imagination.
Acquiring, processing, disseminating and archiving operational data are the foundation stones of building a competent institutional memory.
If you’ve never formally addressed the challenge of knowledge management before today, then in some ways you might actually have an advantage over those who are longer in the tooth.
According to a KPMG study called, Knowledge Management Research Report 2000:
“…36% of respondents who said that the benefits [of knowledge management programs] had failed to meet expectations were asked why. The most often cited reasons included:
■ lack of user uptake owing to insufficient communication (20%);
■ failure to integrate KM into everyday working practices (19%);
■ lack of time to learn how to use the system or a sense that the system was too complicated (18%);
■ a lack of training (15%); and,
■ a sense that there was little personal benefit in it for the user (13%).”
These underlying reasons for knowledge management failure all point at the same cause:
Poor executive level buy-in.
Knowledge management isn’t a thing to ‘do’ (…like a box on a checklist).
It’s actually a way of working.
Therefore, it requires a commitment and a collective willingness to do things differently.
Knowledge management is a value economy that thrives on the trade of what we know, leveraging innovation and best practices for better results.
And so, with the very best of tools and techniques at our disposal, we still require the dedication of staff to manifest knowledge management results.
Therefore with a recommendation of best knowledge management tools comes the caveat of:
*You need to resource its adoption.
(Otherwise your investment will be fruitless. No matter how good the software is.)
As with the seeding of any deep rooted cultural practice, it takes the washing of team members in the ways of what leadership wants ingrained.
This is immersive. But once performed and achieved, the organization has secured the long term benefits.
It becomes the way they speak, the way they think, the way they act.
Tools are indeed secondary to this primary goal.
However, it’s also not to be underestimated the effect that a complementary and well appointed knowledge management tool can have on the team’s efforts.
The right tool enables. It empowers. And through disciplined use, brings to fruit transformational results.
And so, with that in mind…
…let’s take a closer look into knowledge management tools and the features/benefits associated with their functioning.
A Practical Guide To Choosing The ‘Best Fit’ Knowledge Management Tool
What are knowledge management tools?
Knowledge management tools are a complementary array of software programs that proactively and/or reactively assist your staff members in their day to day handling, processing and sharing of acquired knowledge with both internal and external parties.
Common examples of knowledge management tools are:
- CMS (Content Management Systems)
- LMS (Learning Management Systems)
- CRM (Customer Relationship Management System)
- KB (Knowledge Base)
The better aligned and integrated the tools are, the more effectively used they will be by staff.
And typically therefore, investing in a suite or family of products from a single developer or vendor makes sense.
Although this is not always the most effective investment, so due diligence is always crucial to receiving optimal ROI.
Why is your choice of knowledge management tools so important?
Choosing the right knowledge management tool helps your organization successfully deliver your knowledge management strategy.
The functioning of knowledge management software should be intuitive.
In layout and in workflow, the ideal knowledge management tool should remain in lockstep with the cognitive strides of your staff.
They should therefore reinforce discipline.
Making it easy for users to remember and to put in practice the learned methods and motions underpinned by your defined knowledge management strategy.
According to award-winning global management consultants KPMG, the benefits of better executed knowledge management are:
- Knowing the best thing to do, more often.
- Customers who get answers and solutions more readily.
- Things done quicker, where necessary.
- People who can do better and do more.
- People who get more things done in the same or less time.
And who wouldn’t want these benefits for their organization?
Knowledge Management In Industry
Let’s bring some context into the frame.
Knowledge management like any theoretical concept is worthless without practice.
And where we really see how well esteemed a concept is, is in money spent (committed investment).
Take this chart, from a KPMG study, for a representation of how knowledge management is valued by core business functions in industry:
Revealing…yet not entirely surprising.
At the top of the tree we see IT weighing in with the heaviest investment in knowledge management.
And reasonably so, as the transfer of knowledge in these modern times is digital.
Therefore investment in digital systems (both hardware and software) to perform the processing of data naturally attracts budgetary spend.
Beyond this, Marketing is the next largest investor in knowledge management.
Presumably, the strategic steer for the company’s approach to identifying and communicating with commercial audiences is largely dependent upon the sharing of:
- case studies,
- customer data etc.
This would explain the investment slant of Marketing towards knowledge systems.
Next up, Customer Service Sales.
According to Forrester:
“65% of buyers will choose the vendor that is first to add value and help.”
The race is clearly on for sales personnel to demonstrate value as early on in the sales cycle as possible.
Statistics, like the one above, show that delivering early value has significant influence on where the customer’s investment goes.
And when we adopt a strategic take on customer communication, we understand that what customers really want is a solution to their problem.
Therefore (and I concur from experience), the most powerful levers to have at your disposal during a sales cycle is:
- A LIVE demonstration
Sales and customer service personnel that combine the two points above seal deals.
So, in preparation for sales meetings, having ready and convenient access to poignant information will bolster your efforts enhancing chances of success.
A knowledge management tool is just the helper in such a situation.
And with the direct measure of sales performance against ROI, heads of sales and customer service functions will more easily justify spending on knowledge management solutions than other less knowledge-dependent departments.
So, to round up, the top 3 departmental spenders on knowledge management solution sare:
- Sales and Customer Services
It’s essential to function. Plus, their management is most able to justify the spend on knowledge with demonstrable return against the bottom line.
That said, knowledge management has been a particularly problematic expertise for businesses large and small to master.
The following are cited as common pitfalls:
- Too much information and not knowing what to do with it
- Staff seeing knowledge sharing as dissociated from their actual work
- Choice of technology is a hindrance rather than a help
- Waste time ‘making’ knowledge that already exists
- “Putting stuff down that otherwise we just know”
The root cause?
Not putting a head on the shoulders of the process.
The whole thing seems to be done on the hop and not with any decisiveness or cutting edge.
It seems staff members are left to feel their own way through the adoption of knowledge management (KM) discipline leading to systemic KM failure.
(The symptoms listed above lead to this diagnosis.)
A case of backward in coming forward. In other words, a shyness toward a radical replanting of how knowledge is utilized, leaving an air of confusion behind, rather than confidence.
But what about those who do it right?
Here’s what studies show and tell:
It seems those who share success stories of knowledge management implementation in industry have a certain logic in common.
And it goes a little bit like this:
- They establish a clear knowledge management game plan
- They train their staff in what part they should play
- They build a convenient software system that holds all knowledge
- They demonstrate how to use the systems make the strategy work
- They lay down some rules
- They invent some reasonable measures
- They appoint some champions and construct forums
- They incentivise action
- They encourage sharing
- They steward the workflows
- They remain innovative
- They watch everything
Again, as I said – a certain logic.
Now, as for the technologies they use to get results, here’s a simple picture of how that looks:
It seems with the forward movers in this space an intranet is the 1st step.
And it would make sense.
A common repository for all institutional knowledge which can be as compartmentalized or streamline as you need – but everyone can access it for what they’re looking for.
Next a database with automated scripts for retrieving and displaying key data to various audiences. To be illustrative, just think of a dashboard of key metrics as a front end example of this kind of solution.
Next, internet access. Not uncommon in almost any workplace today.
Then, groupware – or, collaborative software like Slack perhaps or alternative.
Followed by generic knowledge management solutions. But if you ask me these smell a bit like ‘square peg, round hole’, unless you go the bespoke route.
And finally, AI (artificial intelligence). Last in the list at the time of publishing, but rapidly gaining prominence and inclusion in the more cutting edge knowledge management solutions on the market.
The thought of a computer reading your mind and doing what you want ‘before’ you ask seems for many a vendor to be the ultimate unveiling (as far as vendors read customer demand – perhaps a step too far & a danger of dumbing down??).
This neatly rounds off our take on knowledge management in the indsutry.
And now, for our recommendation for best knowledge management tools and tech.
Best Knowledge Management Tools and Tech For WordPress
Our first step in arriving at the decision of which tech solution for use for our knowledge management tool is:
Choosing the platform.
It’s the foundation (and therefore, fundamental) choice for building anything tech related.
“What’s going to underpin this whole thing?”
This critical decision has major implications for performance and ROI down the line.
Get this right and you leave yourself enough maneuverability to reach your goals.
Get it wrong and you constrain yourself before you even get started.
Our recommendation with a knowledge management tool is that you go with a CMS (content management system).
They’re purpose built to produce, process, publish and promote knowledge across various media formats, layouts and file types – with ease.
And king among them is WordPress.
The best assembly of knowledge management tools for WordPress
As said, WordPress is ahead of the crowd when it comes to platforms for building web tools.
Its versatility makes it an ideal choice for projects of all complexity. It’s proven in all sub-category of build:
- Web app
- Custom framework (ERP, CRM etc.)
- Media publishers
And of course, knowledge management.
Whilst needing the help of specialist plugin extensions to add on further functionality, WordPress still holds integrity under augmentation and never feels like being out on a limb.
That said, what looks easy is actually down to hard graft. The WordPress plugin economy contributes a considerable share of the £596.7 billion total that the ecosystem turns over per year.
If there’s a question if WordPress can be used to do ‘X’ – chances are somebody’s already done it, alongside a ‘Y’ and ‘Z’ too.
In the case of knowledge management, WordPress has you and your project covered too.
Here’s our top recommendations for knowledge management tools that you should use for your WordPress project:
Heroic Knowledge Base
Heroic Knowledge Base plugin is the market leading, fully-featured intranet solution for WordPress. Straight out of the box, this plugin offers ease and low configuration overhead. It’s very intuitive to set-up and sort of just falls the way you expect as you plow through the steps of setting up. Lots of time saved and also features added in a super lean installation process. CSS controls also are a cinch with Heroic Knowledge Base – it literally picks up your theme’s styling rules and seamlessly integrates into your site saving you the usual fiddly programming phase of getting such a utility on the road.
Use Heroic Knowledge Base for setting up your knowledge hub to underpin your KM software system. With Slack integration included, Heroic Knowledge Base is the idea knowledge flywheel for getting your project off the ground.
Heroic FAQs plugin is a framework for building and displaying FAQs across your site in the most efficient and effective way. Said simply, it’s a smart builder that allows you to insert dynamic FAQs that are managed centrally in the admin panel. Have common FAQs that you want replicated throughout your site? The plugin saves you tons of time and prevents error by offering up the content via a shortcode system requiring only one change at source to represent anywhere else on site.
Use Heroic FAQs plugin to play it smart with displaying FAQs throughout your knowledge base or intranet.
So, with those recommendations in mind – why not get started with using these WordPress knowledge management tools today?