You use knowledge management at your company, and you know all about the benefits it provides. But now you want to take your proven system and deploy it not only to a single department, but to the rest of the enterprise as well. By providing access to other teams such as service technicians, HR, Sales and Marketing, Research and Development, even international subsidiaries, you allow them to benefit from the knowledge management system as well. We have a few tips to help make sure that expansion runs smoothly for you.
You’ve already figured out that knowledge management gives your company a considerable edge over the competition. It drives innovation and gives customers and employees faster access to information. Reliable access to organizational knowledge is a valuable commodity. At your department, people work with information of all types including documents, photographs, and videos every day. With feedback, bookmarks, and reviews, the quality of the knowledge in the system will constantly improve.
So why not establish knowledge management across other teams such as your on-site technical service staff, for instance? You can give technicians access to manuals, drawings, process descriptions, and videos on their mobile devices, wherever they happen to be. Or use your properly managed knowledge to get new sales staff up to speed faster and ensure they always have the latest marketing materials. Your sales managers will find everything the customer desires — from PDFs and slide decks to product videos.
Deploying to other parts of the enterprise
Normally, your employees will have already heard about the department that’s now using a dedicated knowledge management system. Perhaps managers of other departments have even expressed interest already. That’s a good starting point for an enterprise-wide rollout. The positive atmosphere will make it considerably easier for you to expand the knowledge management system across the enterprise. With your evangelists behind you, you won’t have to communicate as much, allowing you to get down to work as described in Part 2 of this series, “The successful knowledge management rollout.”
Below are some additional tips on how to approach the rollout.
Communicate internally the success of the knowledge management system within your department or unit. Offer information to other departments that show interest. You may wish to approach the departmental managers directly. Tell them how you went about deploying the knowledge management system in your department.
Invite influencers from other departments or divisions to have a look at the knowledge management system. Sometimes international subsidiaries have a vague idea of what’s happening in other countries, but don’t know what the standard best practices are. Get testimonials from your users that describe how they are using the new knowledge management system.
It’s a big help when the project manager for the expansion is familiar with the system right from the first rollout. This person will coordinate all the activities and knows the system inside and out. If the project manager is new to the project, it may be advisable to give them a knowledgeable editor or administrator from your own department to support them.
When systems expand, employees still require training. The good thing is that you don’t have to train all the employees in the entire organization at once, only certain units. Particularly at large enterprises, expanding this way is a good idea. We recommend conducting similar or even identical introductory workshops with editors, administrators, and users so that everyone is on the same page. One good thing is that you have already discovered best practices from your initial projects.
Expanding knowledge management — you’re ready to go
First identify the new stakeholders from that part of the organization, structure existing content, train the editors, administrators, and finally, the users. Since you’re already using knowledge management, you’re familiar with the process so it should be relatively straightforward. Experienced consultants are also available who can guide you through the process or offer individual workshops.
You can add new topics to the existing structure.
Now is also a good time to select which content will be available to the various user groups. By offering different views of the available knowledge to different groups, many knowledge management solutions make it possible to segment content for international subsidiaries, departments, or industry segments. This way, users only see content that is relevant to them. A division in France, for instance, will only see information relevant to their own teams while the parent company in the UK manages the basic information that is available to all groups.
Benefiting from an optimized knowledge management process
When additional departments start using knowledge management, they benefit from the experiences and best practices gained from the pilot project. The structure of the existing “knowledge tree” is easy to adapt and re-use. Templates with editorial guidelines for texts and documents are available and usually still applicable. Processes for editorial workflows have been established and it’s easy to perform whatever updates the content requires. A knowledge management solution lives from these updates and the discipline needed to keep everything current. Once people have internalized the process, knowledge will stay up-to-date. The entire organization and all its departments will benefit.
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