Gina Greenlee, the famous author said “Experience is a master teacher, even when it’s not our own” in her book Postcards and Pearls: Life Lessons from Solo Moments on the Road. It is quite apparent that Knowledge Management Systems play a pivotal role in the growth of a company. Do you feel that a Knowledge Management System is needed for your business organization to take your company one step further? If you answered yes, and need some real-life examples of knowledge management systems used in companies, then please keep reading the blog in which we covered basics, success factors, and benefits of Knowledge Management Solutions along with the examples.
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Basics About Knowledge Management Systems and Its Components
Organizational Learning, which refers to the process of creating, retaining, and transferring knowledge within a business is very vital to better any organization. All companies have a vast amount of knowledge available to themselves through documents, researches, and experiences of their employees. The latter is very vital to any business organization and is very hard to preserve without a proper management system.
A Knowledge Management system is designed to organize and preserve the information already known to any business organization so it can be utilized in the most efficient way and contribute to the growth of the organization. There are many types of Knowledge Management Systems designed to achieve custom-fit needs of the organization. But, most of the systems have the following features: FAQ content, community forum feature, how-to articles, tutorials, training programs, certifications, and case studies structured in a manner that a lot of organizational resources are saved in the long run.
Some examples of Knowledge Management that you might have come across without knowing it is:
- R Studio: If you go on the support page of R-Studio, it is a community focussed Knowledge Management Solution in which the customers can ask and answer questions, in addition to articles that address commonly asked queries of the customers. It also has training videos at the bottom of the page, which saves a lot of time and customer service resources of the company
- Microsoft: One of the most accepted applications for any organization, every individual has used one of the apps of Microsoft Office 365 Suite. With a large functionality of every single application, Microsoft has a very detailed customer platform in which all the functionalities are explained in detail along with how-to videos.
- Toyota: Most of the car manufacturers have detailed manuals for every car which explains the details of the car, its features, and videos to help in case the car breaks down. This is very vital as it enhances customer satisfaction and does not require the company to invest a lot in the customer support team.
If you want to know more about the basics about Knowledge Management Systems, please read our blog in which we explain in detail what a knowledge-sharing platform is and its details. For now, let’s jump to the examples of such systems in companies.
Companies with Note-Worthy Knowledge Management Systems
Titan is the 5th largest integrated watch manufacturer with its headquarters in Bangalore, India has an effective Knowledge Management system that is the perfect illustration of the success that can be achieved when business managers and IT professionals come together. As the largest consumer company of Tata Group, the multinational conglomerate, Titan has branched into fashion accessories like eyewear, jewelry, handbags, perfumes, belts, etc. With a large product portfolio and exclusive ‘World of Titan’ showrooms, a portal for organizational learning was needed.
In early 2006, Titan realized the need to learn from its experiences and build a framework of knowledge management and sales to contribute to its success. Prior to this, all documents were retrieved manually, and there was no standardized workflow for collaboration. Finding the right information was extremely difficult and time-consuming.
Titan collected the knowledge it already had across its various business portals, across departments and users into one platform that helped gain explicit and tacit knowledge and changed the goals of the management. Consumer knowledge is extremely important for companies like Titan, which strive in the market through innovation. With a sales portal and community of practices portal, Titan has exceeded in all aspects and met all its goals.
Ford Motor Company, commonly known as Ford, is the American automaker that sells automobiles and commercial vehicles. With headquarters in Dearborn, Michigan, US, and 190,000 employees and consumers on 6 continents, Ford manages to preserve its knowledge with a process called best-practice replication (BPR).
The process captures proven and valued practices, activities that add value to the business organization, and activities that can be managed through policies and real-time status reports. Once the proven practices are captured and passed through selection criteria, the processes are then communicated to local management via emails and web, who then decide if or not to replicate that process.
To encourage more input from employees, successful business processes are recognized with rewards and placards. Primarily designed for engineers, BPR is slightly different from conventional Knowledge Management Systems, but yet has shown significant results at Ford. After seeing its success, many companies like Shell, Kraft, US Navy, etc. have taken licenses to use BPR
3. Southern Company
Southern Company is an American gas and utility holding company based in Atlanta, Georgia, the US. Being the second-largest company in the United States in terms of its customer base, and serving 9 million customers in Alabama, Illinois, Mississippi, Tennessee, Virginia, and Georgia. Before implementing a Knowledge Management System, all engineering documents were kept in paper form, in regional stations and 2 hours was the average search time per day to look for those documents.
The success of the Knowledge Management System was seen when Southern Co. started preparing for hurricanes even before Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005. Southern had taken steps to meet the worst-case scenario and built the Knowledge Management System so that engineers had access to design plans and other important documents in case of natural calamities. As a result of this planning and management system, electricity was restored in 12 days instead of the anticipated 28 days timeline in Mississippi. Because of implementing a Knowledge Management Software at the right time, Southern had the highest customer satisfaction in the industry and was able to set a golden standard for all Knowledge Management Systems.
4. Siemens AG
Siemens AG is a German multinational conglomerate and the largest industrial manufacturer in Europe with its divisions enlisting Industry, Healthcare, Energy, and Infrastructure. Best known for its high-end trains and medical equipment like x-ray machines, Siemens needed to share its knowledge with more than 300,000 employees across the globe. With only a few employees interested in exploring Knowledge Management in the 1990s, after a few years, the efforts of those employees were fruitful and a separate unit for Knowledge Management was established within Siemens.
With increasing competition, Siemens had to be more agile, innovative, and specialized. With programs like best practice sharing, learning programs, and focus on communities of practice (CoP) Knowledge Management was able to be useful to the business organization. Since there is a vast amount of information available, there is a document repository, ShareNET, in which any employee can enter information that they think is useful.
Other employees are able to search the repository for data and are able to contact the author for additional details. In addition to knowledge sharing, the Knowledge Management System also helped the sales team secure large contracts easily. Today, ShareNet has become a benchmark and other forms study it before designing their own Knowledge Management Softwares.
5. El Paso Corporation
El Paso Corp. was a provider of natural gas and related energy products. It was North America’s largest natural gas provider until its acquisition in 2012 by Kinder Morgan. Prior to its acquisition, it owned North America’s largest border-to-border and coast-to-coast pipeline. The Knowledge Management system was launched in 2009, prior to which the company had isolated reporting structure at each of its operating divisions.
In 2009, to improve technical communications and to make employees more accountable, the company underwent a transformation and employed an effective Knowledge Management System. The Knowledge Management program focussed on Communities of Practice as the center point and a platform where technical specialists can collaborate and solve problems was created. The primary focus was on face-to-face activities within the headquarters, but expert knowledge was also leveraged from regional offices. In the first year after the launch, El Paso saved resources worth $1.2M.
Looking at all these examples of success stories, we often ask ourselves what are the factors that determine the success or failure of a product or process. So, let’s take a look at some of the factors that determine if the Knowledge Management System is successful or not.
What are the factors that make a Knowledge Management Solution successful?
- Realizing needs and priorities while designing the system: The first thing to do is to understand what you need your knowledge management system to do. Without a proper realization of business needs, any product is doomed to fail. In addition to this, all needs must be prioritized as sometimes meeting every requirement through a technical solution can be hard.
- Support from higher management: This factor goes unsaid and is vital in the success of any business product/operation. With proper support from the management, ample resources will be utilized in the development of the system, and once launched, the management can help employees make the right shift to using the software.
- Involvement of every employee: The next important thing is that every employee actively takes a role in building the knowledge base of the business organization. If there is no ownership from the employees, then the knowledge base will be imperfect and all the efforts will go in vain. So employees should not only add information but use the information available in the knowledge base to mark the success of the Knowledge Management System.
- A reliable and easy to use the application: For people to switch to an application, the application should make their lives easier. The application should be consistent and easy to use. If the application crashes frequently, then the staff members will switch to the original means of document storage and tacit knowledge will remain uncaptured.
1. What are the benefits of a KMS?
Answer: A knowledge Management System helps companies in the following ways:
- Organize all documents and increase the accessibility of those documents
- Save time looking for information
- Faster and more informed decisions due to the access to expert knowledge
- More innovations through global collaboration
- Learning from mistakes and reducing redundant efforts
- Enhance customer experience
- Save time in finding the right documents due to machine learning feature of KMS
- Enhanced business learning and faster customer support
2. What are some of the common features of Knowledge Base Systems?
Answer: Some of the common features of Knowledge Sharing Systems are:
- Organizational feature: The first feature that a Knowledge Management Platform should offer is a custom business organization. Every organization has different kinds and quantities of documents that it needs to store. In addition to those documents, there are notes, how-to videos, SOPs, etc. which are a part of the organizational knowledge base. The KMS should allow you to organize documents and data in any way you see fit. There should be no limitations to the organizational capacities of the app so that it can be very convenient and handy.
- Ability to look up information quickly: The next thing to look for in a KMS is an effective search bar that can help you look up any information through relevant keywords. All business organizations have a quite vast knowledge base and without this feature, the daily time efficiency of the employees is reduced.
- Ability to upload multiple formats of files without any restrictions: Any business organization does not have knowledge only in written format. The information can be videos, websites, pictures, audio notes, etc. So the KMs should not have any restrictions on the type of file being uploaded. In addition to that, if there are few restrictions on the upload size of files, it makes things easier.
- Collaboration through the software: In all types of industries, employees have to collaborate with each other at some point or other and assist each other to meet the organizational goals. If this collaboration is possible from the KMS, then a lot of time is saved from back-and-forth correspondence. In addition to this, if someone has questions regarding the data posted on KMS, there should be an open forum that allows for discussions of this sort.
3. What are some examples of Knowledge Management Softwares available?
Answer: A lot of companies license their KMS to other organizations for their needs. If you do not want to invest in building your own KMS, then some of the following options are a good choice to consider:
- Guru: A KMS with Artificial intelligence(AI) portal
- BoomFire: Efficient Information Sharing between teams
- HelpCrunch: Ideal for Customer Service needs and better customer experience
In this article, we covered in extensive length, details about information management platforms across different companies. All the software we discussed above have impeccable content management solutions and the machine learning feature enables knowledge workers to enhance user experience and deliver better business processes. With a variety of features, the KMS is designed to solve business problems and achieve business goals faster.
We hope that this article was helpful and if you want to share your thoughts, please feel free to contact us.