Imagine an endless library without any form of organization. No matter how many books rest inside or how wide a breadth of knowledge is contained within their pages, the value of that library would be rendered worthless the moment one needed to find a specific piece of information. Why then, would you let your business enter the marketplace without having a strong information support system that can organize, manage and retrieve your data like any well-indexed library? If it’s because you don’t have an appropriate solution in place and don’t know where to turn, then have we got the answer for you: knowledge management software. Knowledge management software turns the nightmare of managing all of your business’s information into an enjoyable, productive experience for your company and customers alike.
Below, we’ve compiled a knowledge management 101 guide to take you through the basics of knowledge management software and its key features, in order to help you determine if one of these solutions might be right for your growing business.
Even if your company has the information it needs and more, without a system that can effectively access the correct data on demand, all that information is essentially useless. Knowledge management software makes the organization, storage and retrieval of information easy for both internal employees and, if needed, customers. A good knowledge management solution will centralize your data for better organization and quick retrieval to streamline your business processes, and improve the flow of information throughout. The improvements that come with knowledge management solutions are not only beneficial to daily operations with the right implementation, but can go a long way in improving the way your business operates and save money over time.
The first way knowledge management turns your water into wine is by connecting your team through improved collaboration and information sharing. With a more connected team that can easily share needed information, you’ll find an immediate increase in productivity as you reduce time spent on gathering information and increase the amount of time devoted to acting on it. This change can, for instance, enable your sales team to help each other find the tools and answers they need, and work together to sell more and sell faster. By linking those who have questions with those with the answers, you’ll find yourself with a synergized team that’s better equipped to tackle the challenges that lie ahead.
Similarly, knowledge management software puts information in the hands of your customers, empowering them to get the information they need on their own. Strong knowledge management solutions incorporate online resources from which your clients can access the information they need, without having to wait for your team to respond to inquiries individually. By empowering your customers to ask and answer their own questions, you’ll improve your satisfaction levels while simultaneously reducing the costs and time spent on customer relationship management.
Along with connecting the key players to your business’s success, knowledge management consolidates your data for easy organization, access and practical functionality. Knowledge management solutions create a personalized intranet for all of your data that is customizable to your needs and searchable by your own parameters. By bringing the information found across your entire business together and turning it into a personalized knowledge database, knowledge management ensures that the data you’re looking for is no more than a search away.
Having a solution that integrates with your existing systems will make a huge difference in its effectiveness and daily relevance. The leading knowledge management solutions will be able to gather data across all of your applications, and turn it into searchable and actionable pieces of data. By bringing the information of, say, your CRM, sales and marketing tools together, you’ll be able to make decisions and take action across all of your business’s departments.
Why limit yourself to a single point of access? The more locations from which you can access information, the better. To provide as many options as possible, most knowledge management solutions will offer the convenience of mobile accessibility so that you can find the data you need on the go. Being able to reach your information from mobile devices, such as smart phones and tablets, will result in increased productivity and customer satisfaction for your business.
A knowledge management system that incorporates social features will serve to make it a more usable and effective investment. The leading solutions offer a wide range of options on this front, ranging from simple gamification tools like leader boards and competitions to fully developed community platforms with user profiles and built-in communication.
You’ll find that the social feature offerings found within knowledge management solutions aren’t all just fun and games though; they result in tangible, positive change through increased camaraderie and collaboration. To the benefit of your business, these social features can not only help stimulate activity from within, but can also engage your client base to increase interest and involvement with your brand.
Learning never stops for those who aim to succeed. If your business wishes to flourish with the best of them, you might want to consider a knowledge management solution that focuses on nurturing a positive learning environment for your employees. To facilitate an ongoing learning experience, some knowledge management solutions include spaces in which your team can engage with educational content online in order to further their skills and become more successful at their work.
Platforms like Bloomfire offer the ability to deploy customizable lessons that target different employees at different stages, and the option to create virtual playlists that make training a breeze. For those looking to improve the competency of everyone from new employees to seasoned veterans through continued education, there’s a suitable knowledge management solution out there for you.
Being able to gain insight through reporting and analytics is a key component to a successful knowledge management solution. Make sure that any knowledge management solution you’re considering includes a solid reporting and analytics module so that you can review a history of your platform’s usage in order to make better decisions and implement change in the future. In addition, a knowledge management solution that delivers rich reports of user access logs, certification results, collaborations and all online transactions will make meeting compliance standards a breeze.
If you’re ready to start comparing some of the best knowledge management solutions out there, head on over to our Top 5 Knowledge Management Report right now!
[Photo courtesy of Miguel M. Almeida.]