Human Challenges for KM
As with all it systems that deeply affect how organizations work, a supportive culture plays a big role in successful KM rollouts.
According to Tom Bartley, vice president of strategy at Elite Information Systems, a KM vendor that customizes SharePoint Portal Server for law offices and professional services, "The biggest obstacle to implementing a KM solution is company culture, not technology."
Unlike a network infrastructure or server rollout, a KM implementation will not work without user input.
"To have a successful KM implementation, you must have employee input during the implementation process," said Bartley, in Los Angeles. "Employees need to be convinced that the KM system will make their jobs easier. Without a groundswell of desire to use the system, a KM system will fail."
Put simply, a KM solution is only as good as the information in it. With layoffs sweeping the nation, many employees may reject the idea of injecting their critical knowledge into a KM solution.
The best way to get workers to accept a KM solution is to allow them to set the guidelines for the implementation and to give them the ability to control their data.
By getting workers involved before implementation, IT managers can better determine which KM feature sets they should be shopping for. Furthermore, giving power to managers and users gives them a sense of ownership—they will likely feel that contributing to the KM solution is a benefit to them, not just something they are forced to do.
Another way in which some companies entice their employees to contribute to a KM system is to create an incentive program. The danger of doing this, however, is that employees will only contribute to get something, and that the KM system will not be regularly populated.
Managers can avoid this by considering a deposit into the KM system part of any business process. Sapients Buczek, for example, said a few of the companies he works with build in time at the end of every project for managers to create a wrap-up document and publish it to the KM system.
eWeek Labs Senior Analyst Henry Baltazar has performed extensive testing of products that effect enterprise knowledge management, including Lotus Domino platform and K-Station and Microsofts SharePoint and Exchange Servers, and has written about the human challenges that both drive and hinder KM.
- Review: Microsofts SharePoint Portal Server
- Review: Lotus K-Station
- Knowledge Management Has a Human Side