A strong leadership has a significant impact on the success rate of a Knowledge Management solutions.
According to a recent paper published by HAL Open Science: “The reasons for KMS failure are multi-faceted and both social and technical factors are involved as well as organisational factors. For instance; authors such as Hurley (2010) argue that hierarchical organisations are not conducive to knowledge sharing and that additionally, unless it is a cultural norm that knowledge is shared, systems will not work. Technology, they state, cannot be the driver, but can facilitate when the culture is appropriate. Akhavan, Jafari, and Fathian (2005) agree. In their list of the 10 most important failure factors not only do they mention organisational culture but additionally they echo a number of points which we saw identified in our survey (details given below) such as the lack of budget; lack of top management support; resistance to change; and current and new systems being unable to link. Many of these factors are also to be found in all information systems failures and thus we would argue that considering the sociotechnical factors of knowledge management systems is equally appropriate for considering how KMS might achieve success as for any other information system (IS).”
With this said, a knowledge management system will only benefit your business when you close the loop on all 4 of these factors;
The first essential factor of Knowledge Management is understanding your knowledge gaps from the beginning. If your content is not fit for purpose, the other factors will not fit into place – you could have access to the best technology in the world but if the content is not right, the technology investment cannot be realised.
Next is to find the right tools and technology that have the right out the box features for you business size and requirements. Customisation will add complexity and risk to a project and of course, additional time to deploy.
The most important factor of any Knowledge Management Solution, are the people. Without user buy-in, the potential of content and technology will not be realised.
When surveys have been carried out on KM projects and leaders have been asked what would they do differently, most say that they would have communicated more why they are implementing KM.
A well thought out communications plan, knowledge management evangelists and a clear definition of roles and responsibilities will ensure buy-in from the most sceptical of users. It could be the best technology in the world with the best content but if no-one is going to use it, the project will fail.
Understanding user activity levels will help identify any potential adoption issues and give you the opportunity to address these. Measuring contribution to the knowledge base is key – this shouldn’t necessarily be based on the number of solutions entered, rather the times it was reused. It is about quality not quantity.