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make time for knowledge management

No time for knowledge management?

or…how to manage your KMS efficiently

One of the biggest obstacles we hear to knowledge management maintenance is the time it takes for implementation and upkeep. It’s a valid concern and shared among many. Like any other finite resource, yours and your employees’ time is exceptionally valuable. 

The issue with this thinking, however, is that the concern you have around the time cost is the very problem knowledge management solves. Time is the commodity and result that KM systems produce. You’re worrying about the immediate input of the resource but perhaps don’t see the longer term picture and compounding interest of KMS. 

The conversation is biased to the short term expense but leader’s need to think long term and sustainability. You lead with the hope of seeing exponential long term growth and profitability and KMS shares that aim. 

Let’s take a look at whose time we’re really talking about and what you can do to expedite KMS implementation and upkeep. 

 

Whose time is really impacted by a knowledge management system?

Time Cost of Employees

C-suites, managers, customer service, IT and more are impacted by the upkeep of a KMS. There is no escaping it. If you want to leverage the full functions of KMS, it requires team members to gather information, format it for future use, upload it and refresh it over time. But who benefits the most? You do. 

Onboarding

It costs an average of $1252 to onboard, train and develop new hires in Australia. That’s a significant cost made up of time from the individual, HR, and management responsible for hiring. 

KMS allows you to bypass much of the time expense by automating chunks of the onboarding process. User manuals, how-to guides and more mean self-taught processes are possible. KMS homogenises the onboarding experience so nothing is missed in the process. 

Current Team

Let’s forget about new hires and focus on the current crop. 

Employees spend between 19% and 35% of their time gathering and replicating information possessed by other employees. This time is spent asking questions, getting SOPs, fixing hard and software and interrupting managers which is a major time cost of its own. IT departments are losing up to 50% of their time gathering, preparing and duplicating information. This information only needs to be learned once and made available to the team. Why keep reiterating yourself over and over? 

Customer Care

What about customer service? Customer service is the face of your enterprise and every minute of their time is valuable. However, it is costly for them to solve the same problems over and over. 

Forrester found that click to call and click to chat human run systems can cost as much as $5 per query. Hubspot can do it for $0.25 because it automates repetitive simple questions and allows customer care to respond to queries only they can answer. With 7.4 million Australian households shopping online between January and April alone, customer care won’t have time for everyone. 

All of these stakeholders can be streamlined by self-serve knowledge management systems. KMS reduces the time spent on repetition and duplication by as much as 35%. That’s 35% more time which is over a day a week or a full month of added productivity per person per year. A frightening boost in operations. 

Even if it took every employee a half day a week to maintain KMS, it would still provide a surplus on the time invested. 

 

What about your Customers?

Now for your customers and your CX in particular. If we’re going to have a conversation about the time expense of KMS, CX has to be part of the picture. We have already covered the time cost to you, right? Wrong. We have covered your time investment. We haven’t covered the interest and dividends that your investment accrues. 

4 out of 5 Australian households shopped online last year and, in the process, became ruthless, experience-centered and borderline antisocial. Not antisocial in the graffiti-ing sense but in the sense that they would rather solve queries themselves than talk to customer care. 67% of people want self-service and will go to a competitor to find it because it values their time. 

Engaging customer care costs customers time. They end up on hold. They get passed around and sometimes they don’t get listened to. It negatively impacts their experience and a negative CX is a one-time deal. 78% of customers have backed out of a purchase thanks to bad CX and 50% of customers won’t come back. On the flip side, 87% will pay more for a great CX.

Customer experience is about time. They are already on the site. They want to gather the information required and proceed to checkout without hitting snags that waste their time. They want trusted seamlessness. 

 

How can you accelerate KMS maintenance? 

Think of time like a balance sheet. You don’t just have expenditure. You can also generate income. As much as you worry about the outgoings for maintenance, it has to be rationalised against what you save. Any investment that generates the ROI knowledge management does, would never be questioned. 

 

1. Set KMS Objectives and a Change Management Strategy

The introduction of any business software is dependent on employee buy-in. Start by figuring out what you are asking them to buy into. 

What is the point of the KMS? Why does your business need it? What are you hoping to achieve? Create an articulate vision for life post-implementation. Explain how KMS will make their lives easier and give them more time for doing the projects they love. If you can reduce the shallow work that distracts from value creating tasks, you can get participation. Otherwise, they feel like they’re being replaced by robots. 

It can be as simple as starting an email: 

“We spend 20%-35% of our time asking questions of each other that have already been answered. We want you to have the access to information you need without feeling like you’re asking silly questions. We want for you to shed the repetitive tasks you don’t like so you can focus on the tasks you do.” 

Respecting and valuing employee time fosters engagement. 

2. Build a Process of Participation

Participation is key. The more hands contributing during implementation, the quicker it becomes. 

Install a KMS leader because knowledge needs management. Create a centralised hub where employees can upload SOPs, questions and answers, Go-to people, FAQs and more. It just needs to explain where this information should be stored. 

Once information is gathered in one place, your KMS leader can set a format and organise the available information. The initial construction might be daunting but there are many KM systems where templates are provided so it can be easily streamlined. 

3. Breed a Culture of KMS Maintenance Especially in Leadership

Culture is a top down construct. If your leadership doesn’t live your values and norms, nobody will. Unfortunately, nothing works on a “do as I say, not as I do” basis. 

Have all team members set aside the required time to update the KMS as necessary. It requires a little more up-front investment but demands far less over time. The routine is what is important. Ensure leadership is kept accountable for maintenance and everyone else will follow suit. 

Embrace the Knowledge Centered Service methodology as a way of embedding knowledge capture and maintenance into the whole team’s day-to-day problem solving. 

4. Assess and Appraise Effectiveness 

After 3 months with your KMS, check in to see how effective it has been. Has your team participated? Has information been captured and stored in the right places? Is it readily accessible to the users? 

A KMS doesn’t need the level of SEO that websites do but your team and customers ought to know where to find things. Measure traffic within the KMS but also the traffic of inquiries going to managers and customer care teams. You should see your phone, text and email lines opening up because more people are solving issues by themselves. 

It is also worth keeping an eye on your sales figures. While time is a major ROI, so are sales. You might not be aware of how many customers abandoned their carts or didn’t bother because they couldn’t solve their problems online. The more seamless the CX, the more customers you get so keep a finger on the pulse. 

Here are the metrics we suggest judging your KMS against: 

  • Usability. KMS engagement from input to visitation. Is there widespread participation and is it helping the intended people?  
  • KMS Search Metrics Report
  • Manager productivity. Do managers have more time for creating value than answering queries? 
  • Overall employee productivity
  • Employee engagement surveys. How has morale improved?
  • Reduction of staff engaging customer queries 
  • Cost per customer care query reduction
  • Number of customers and overall sales 
  • New hire cost reduction

5. Consider Upgrades

KMS is constantly evolving. Every month new tech giants purchase KMS companies adding new products. AI and automation is fixated on solving repetition problems and eliminating redundancies. There is a whole market driven to generate more value for the likes of you. 

Your KMS will have saved you oodles of time and finances. As the systems grow, they will break new ground and improve other laborious processes so keep an eye out to stay ahead of the competition. 

 

In Conclusion

Concerns around time and knowledge management maintenance are reasonable but expense and income should be understood. Sure, there is an expenditure on bringing KMS up to speed but it cannot be accounted for without also recording the swathes of time saving incurred as a result. 

The reality is that the most impactful improvements often need us to slow down before we can speed up again and reap the rewards of that time investment. KMS is quickened when we can rally the team around a shared purpose of having the knowledge base and work together on bringing searching, reusing and updating into the day-to-day workflow of the whole team. It spreads the maintenance load and builds a culture of team ownership.

35% more employee time for value generating tasks. Reduced customer service cost per query. Drastically improved customer experience. And as much as a 70% reduction in time to resolution for employees and customers. These are the statistics to wrap your head around. These are what make the investment worth it. 

Your time is a finite resource and KMS helps you value and optimise it beyond the traditional capabilities. 

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