Are you banking your knowledge?

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How many times did you tell the prospective client that your company has years and years of experience in providing a particular service when in reality you are planning to work with a relatively inexperienced crew?

Well, your inexperienced team need not be poor in knowledge if your company has a knowledge bank that stores the wisdom accumulated by the company over the years and that wisdom is successfully transferred to your team.

A bank, huh?

Your employees carry a wealth of information in their brains and some in their hard drives, which is lost when they leave the company or forget the information or simply lose the hard drive’s data. Why not encourage them to store it somewhere safe, from where they and their colleagues can retrieve it whenever required?

Today’s knowledge bank is a web portal with neatly tagged and searchable knowledge assets, accessible to all employees using the company’s network. Knowledge assets could be:

  • Process documents and blueprints
  • Documented best practices followed in a project
  • Documented lessons learned
  • Project management and other templates
  • Checklists and process charts
  • Reusable graphic elements
  • White papers and presentations
  • Video and audio records of presentations or training

Employees cannot spare the time to document and upload

Think about the time they can save by reusing materials from the bank:

  • Creating a new proposal: Make a list of all the relevant points, elaborate on each, assign appropriate headings and subheadings, format the document according to the company standards, apply logos and legal disclaimers…
    • Alternatively, take a similar proposal from the bank and modify it, as required.
  • Training a new employee: Wait till there are a few more new employees, identify a trainer, ready the training materials, organize a classroom session…
    • Alternatively, direct the new employee to the recorded training available in the bank.
  • Starting a new project: Develop templates, checklists, project management and tracking sheets, etc. using the company’s standard format, logo, and disclaimers.
    • Alternatively, reuse existing templates, checklists and best practices after suitable modification.
  • Developing training materials: Set up successive meetings with Subject Matter Experts (SME) to gather content; keep aside additional time for further research on the internet; reach out to graphic designers to create the required graphic elements.
    • Alternatively, harvest relevant information and reusable graphic elements from the bank and approach the SME only to fill the gaps.

Above are only a few examples of how a knowledge bank eases the day-to-day work and saves valuable man-hours. In reality, employees of all levels, starting from the top management to the data analysts to sales people, can deep dive into the knowledge bank and find valuable gems that can save several hours of their time.

What is in it for those who share their knowledge?

Give them their due credit and recognition. There are several ways to motivate your employees to share their knowledge through the knowledge bank:

  1. Make it an organizational mandate to document and store useful information pertaining to a project.

At the end of every phase of a project, the project manager must ensure that all pertinent information and documents are properly tagged and uploaded to the bank.

  1. Make it every individual employee’s business commitment to contribute to the knowledge bank.
  2. Gamify the use of the bank:
    1. Add a counter to count the number of downloads for every document.
    2. Create leader boards to identify the documents with the maximum number of downloads and the highest individual contributors.
    3. Create provisions for users to comment on the quality and usefulness of the assets.
  3. Award brownie points for reusing documents/information from the bank and quantifying the time saved in doing so.

What about sensitive information?

Of course, all sensitive and confidential information must be removed or suitably masked before sharing a document through the knowledge bank.

You may also add a disclaimer and forbid users from using the information for any purpose other than acquiring knowledge.

What is in it for the organization?

Remember: Time saved is money earned. An employee can browse through existing knowledge in the knowledge bank for an hour or less to harvest the information required. But when one employee is required to brief or train another employee for an hour, that equals two man hours spent on achieving the same result.

Secondly, think of a situation where the only employee who is in possession of the piece of information required at a critical moment, is not around to deliver that piece of information. A little piece of information can make or break a deal.

Today it is commonly and widely accepted that information is wealth. Accumulate it, store it; do not let it go waste.

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