All companies have access to a broad body of knowledge, whether it's understanding customer needs and the business environment, or the skills and experiences of employees.
How a company collects, shares, and uses this knowledge can be critical to its ability to thrive. This doesn't just apply to large multinational companies. From a local newsstand to a manufacturing company, everyone can benefit from knowledge management.
This guide explains the basic sources of knowledge available to your business, how to best leverage and capitalize on that information, and how to create a knowledge strategy for your business.
- What is knowledge in a company?
- Basic sources of knowledge
- use your knowledge
- Put knowledge at the heart of your business
- Share knowledge in your company
- Create a knowledge strategy for your company
- Use of information technology to acquire and manage knowledge.
Leveraging knowledge in your business doesn't necessarily mean creating smart new products and services or inventing smart new ways to sell them. It's so much easier.
Useful and important knowledge already exists in your company. Can be found at:
- aexperienceyour employees
- aprojects and processesfor your goods and services
- your files fromdocuments(whether digital, paper or both)
- it isplanesfor future activities, such as ideas for new products or services
The challenge is to make this knowledge usable in a coherent and productive way.
existing forms of knowledge
- you probably didmarket researchabout the need for your business to exist. If nobody wanted what you're selling, you wouldn't trade. You can tailor this market information to target specific customers with specific types of products or services.
- your files fromdocumentsFrom and About Customers and Suppliers contains a wealth of information that can be invaluable in developing new products or services, as well as improving existing ones.
- They areemployeeYou probably have skills and experience that you can use to your advantage. Experienced employees can be invaluable in setting yourself apart from the competition. You must ensure that your employees' knowledge and skills are passed on to their colleagues and successors, e.g. B. through brainstorming, training, and documentation. See page in this guide: Create a knowledge strategy for your company.
Your understanding of what customers want, combined with your team's knowledge, can be considered yours.knowledge base.
Proper use of this knowledge can help you run your business more efficiently, reduce business risk, and make the most of opportunities. This is known as theadvantage of knowledge.
Your sources of business knowledge could be:
- customer knowledge- You must know the needs of your customers and what they think of you. Potentially, you can form mutually beneficial knowledge-sharing relationships with customers by talking to them about their future needs and discussing how to develop your own products or services to ensure they meet their needs.
- Relationship with employees and suppliers- Get feedback from your employees and suppliers: they have their own impressions of your performance. You can use formal surveys to gather this knowledge, or ask for their opinions more informally.
- market knowledge- Follow the evolution of your sector. How are your competitors doing? How much do they charge? Are there new entrants to the market? Have significant new products been introduced?
- Knowledge of the business environment.- Your business can be influenced by numerous external factors. Developments in politics, economics, technology, society and the environment can affect the development of your business, so you should keep up to date. You might consider establishing a staff to monitor and report on changes in the business world.
- Professional Colleges and Professional Associations- your publications, scientific publications, government publications, reports from research institutions, technical and professional journals.
- fairs and congresses- This is an easy way to find out what your competitors are doing and see the latest innovations in your industry.
- product research and development- Scientific and technical research and development can be an important source of knowledge that can help you create innovative new products and maintain your competitive edge.
- organizational memory- Be careful not to lose skills or experience that your company has developed. You need to find formal ways to share your employees' knowledge of best practices. For example, you can create how-to guides based on your employees' best practices. See page in this guide: Create a knowledge strategy for your company.
- non-executive directors- This can be a great way to incorporate industry expertise and benefit from off-the-shelf contracts.
Consider the measurable benefits of more effective knowledge capture and use. Here are all possible results:
- an improvement ofgoods or servicesthey offer and the processes they use to sell them. For example, if you spot market trends before they happen, you can offer products and services to your customers before your competitors do.
- Highcustomer satisfactionbecause you have a better understanding of your requirements through customer communication feedback.
- An increase in the quality of yourDelivery, the result of a better awareness of what customers want and what their employees need.
- Improvedemployee productivity, because employees can benefit from the knowledge and experience of their colleagues to discover the best way to do their job. They will also feel more valued in a company where their ideas are heard.
- business increaseefficiencybetter use of internal know-how.
- To improveRecruitment and Recruitmentguidelines. For example, if you know what your customers are looking for, you can better find the right people to serve them.
- the ability tosell or licenseyour knowledge to others. You can use your knowledge and experience in an advisory or advisory role. However, to do this, make sure you protect your intellectual property.
To manage the collection and use of knowledge in your company, you should try to create aculturalin which knowledge is valued in your company.
One way to do this might be to offer incentives to employees who provide useful market news or to suggest ways in which customers can be better served. You can use these knowledge management practices across your organization to create better processes.
As part of your knowledge management, you should also ensure thatintellectual propertythat your business is protected. This means that you have the right to prevent competitors from copying you, and you can also benefit from licensing your company's knowledge.
Protecting and using your knowledge base becomes more effective when you develop efficient systems for storing and retrieving information. Your files, whether stored digitally or on paper, contain knowledge that you can use to improve your products, services, systems and processes and make them more customer-focused.
preserve knowledgesecret. Your employment policy plays a central role in this. For example, you can have employees sign non-disclosure agreements (also known as non-disclosure agreements) when they join your company, as this ensures that employees understand the importance of confidentiality from day one. Employment contracts can be written to properly restrict your employees' freedom to quit and work immediately for one of your competitors (restrictive trade clauses) or to start a nearby competitor (restrictive agreements).
It is important to avoid leaving important knowledge or skills in the hands of a few people, as if they leave the company or retire, this experience could be lost to your business. When you have efficient ways to share knowledge across the organization, it will be used more widely and its value and effectiveness will likely be maximized.
Think about the best way to share new ideas and information with your employees. You might already have regular meetings where you can brief employees and ask them to share ideas and best practices.
You might consider holdinginnovation workshopsobrainstorming sessionswhere employees have the freedom and encouragement to think of ways to improve the company.
It might also be a good idea to create aknowledge bankwith useful information and instructions for performing important tasks. Placing this on an intranet is ideal as it encourages employees to post news or suggestions.
Technology by itself is not the answer to knowledge sharing: it must be managed carefully so that information is channeled appropriately. You may choose to appoint a senior manager aschampion of knowledgefor your business. This guide page explains how to put knowledge at the heart of your business.
Incentives and Training
Remember, encouraging employees to make suggestions for improving the company is often an effective way to get employees to use and share knowledge.
Don't forget the importance of training to spread important knowledge, skills, and best practices throughout the organization.
If you want to get the most out of your company's knowledge, you need to take a strategic approach.discover, collectySharethat. This is done through a knowledge strategy: a set of written policies that will be applied throughout the organization.
If you want your strategy to be effective, you need to make sure your leaders are committed to it and aware of the benefits it can bring. Discuss with them the best ways to collect and use knowledge.
You may choose to appoint a senior manager aschampion of knowledgefor your business. For more information, see the page in this guide on putting knowledge at the heart of your business.
When creating the strategy you must:
- Consider how efficiently your organization is using your knowledge
- Review your internal processes for gathering and sharing information: are there successful ways to generate ideas and do employees have a good overview?
- Ensure that knowledge management, acquisition and distribution is an ongoing process so that it becomes a central part of your business strategy
You must also identify the value of knowledge to your business. Think about how you could use your knowledge for financial gain, perhaps gaining more market share, developing new products, or selling or licensing your intellectual property to others. Make sure this fits into your overall business plan.
Information technology provides powerful tools to help you gain knowledge and make the most of it. Some of the systems can be complex to set up and time consuming to maintain. You need to choose systems that suit your business and improve it without making it a burden. It may be helpful to consult an IT specialist.
types of information technology
- data baseOrganize information so it can be easily accessed, managed, and updated. For example, you might have a customer database that includes contact information, orders, and preferences.
- ANdata warehousethis is a central storage area that you can use when you have a large number of business systems or a set of information in different digital formats. Many companies now use digital asset management to store, manage and access information, and this can be especially useful if you're selling online. However, technically and in terms of task management, it is a complex area and you may wish to seek advice from a IT consultant.
- Data processingit is a process of sorting all the collected data to determine patterns. For example, it can tell you which products are the most popular and whether a certain type of customer is likely to buy a certain item.
- Reporting and query toolsyou can create reports that interpret the data in a specific way. For example, how many of your sales were made by a particular employee?
- Business intelligence portals are websites that collect all sorts of potentially useful information, such as legal issues or details of new research.
- DieInternet and search engines- These can be a powerful source of knowledge, but be sure to check the credibility of your information source. Internet newsgroups can be specific sources of business information, but check the authors' other posts before deciding how you view their opinions and stated facts.
- Nointranetit is a secure internal network for the exclusive use of your company.
- NoextranetSimilar to an intranet, but can extend to customers and suppliers.
- Customer relationship management softwarehelps you build a profile of your customer database and allows you to target them through email, phone or postal mail marketing campaigns.
- Call-Center-Sistemaallows you to serve a large number of customers when selling over the phone.
- Website log file analysishelps you analyze how customers use your website so you can improve its effectiveness.
- Analysis and archiving systemsCustomer letters, tips, emails and call center responses that allow you to identify trends, improve customer service and develop new products, services and systems.
the actual documentThe importance of knowledge for a growing company, © Crown-Copyright 2009
Source: Business Link UK (nowGOV.UK/Negocios)
Adapted for Québec by Info Entrepreneurs
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