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Sagitec Blog

Seven challenges blocking effective knowledge and learning management

At its very essence, knowledge and learning management is simple. It is about giving internal and external stakeholders the information and resources that they need to be successful in their relationship with the organization that they work for or buy from. But, knowledge and learning management is much more complex than it actually sounds.

Practitioners have the mentality that if they develop content that stakeholders need, success will come organically. It’s the whole “if you build it, they will come” mantra. But, the fact is that a lot of organizations have developed great knowledge and learning opportunities that actually fill a real-world need (i.e., developed a good solution to a confirmed problem) without much impact. And, here are 7 deadly reasons why.

First, there are no clear objectives driving the bus.

It’s pretty typical for organizations to start their knowledge and learning management strategy at a ‘gnat’s eyelash’ level of granularity. Maybe your Call Center Manager sat down and wrote the answers to the top ten customer service questions that you receive to help Call Center Representatives be able to effectively answer calls. It could be that an engineer developed a checklist so that technicians wouldn’t forget the order in which to install hardware on a machine. Or, maybe your HR department developed a compliance video that all new employees must watch. If we put this in a sequence, there’s a problem: someone needs to know something; so, people solve it — they write something down.

But, the sooner that your organization can zoom out from the ‘gnat’s eyelash’ and move to a holistic view of the organization, the faster the organization (and all of the people in it) can capitalize on the vast opportunities that are created with knowledge. To progress from point A to a much more evolved point B, you need a set of knowledge and learning management objectives that can guide your decision making and help you to measure success.

Second, the right resources don’t exist or the right resources don’t have enough time.

Knowledge and information are at a premium these days. Entire industries have developed around solving the gaps. But, one of the primary reasons these gaps exist is because organizations have unique knowledge (you just can’t Google it) stuck in the heads of very few people— note the emphasis on “very few”. Additionally, many organizations are in a situation where a majority of the people who have the knowledge are not skilled at getting it out of their brain and onto paper in a manner that others can effectively use. The right resources are further constrained with not having enough time in their business day. It’s often the case that your most knowledgeable workers are the most tasked. This coupled with budgetary constraints typically felt by knowledge and learning management departments means that your knowledge and learning solutions may not even see the light of day.

Third, internal conflicts arise.

The funny thing about internal conflicts is that every new initiative that an organization embarks upon causes some kind of conflict. But, some organizations are better suited to deal with these conflicts and move past it; whereas other organizations avoid internal conflict and even run in the other direction. There are three primary conflicts that arise within organizations over knowledge and learning management initiatives.

The first and most common is disagreement between knowledge and learning experts and line managers regarding how and what knowledge to impart. Essentially, it boils down to the rapport between the person or team building the content and the manager/team responsible for disseminating this to all the stakeholders. There are often differences on what information and knowledge should be shared and how the audience will learn. The knowledge and learning expert is typically falling back on industry best practices, surveys and assessments of the audience, and historical experiences. The line manager is typically falling back on the desire to resolve a specific pain point now in order to achieve better results immediately.

The second most common internal conflict is that politically built siloes commandeer knowledge and learning management objectives, thus including and excluding segments of learners and knowledge seekers. For example, some organizations might decide to put the knowledge and learning management function into the greater HR function, IT function, or corporate operations function. While there is no right or wrong approach, organizations that have politically built siloes involuntarily create an “us versus them” mentality, who give ownership of a project or initiative to the “us” group thus isolating or excluding the “them” group.

Finally, while knowledge and learning initiatives give employees a voice, many organizations are not always ready to give employees a voice  —or to listen to what that voice is saying.

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Fourth, the right supporting technology is not in the mix.

While most knowledge and learning management experts would agree that strategy eats technology for breakfast, investing in the wrong knowledge and learning management technology can be the death of your initiative. Be cautious to not get swept away in the bells and whistles of what’s currently trendy and instead, focus on your 50,000-foot-view strategic objectives and anticipate how your organization’s objectives might evolve in the future. Buy a technology solution that will support you in meeting your current and future strategic objectives — not one that uses big data because big data is cool or one that uses machine learning because you heard some other highly reputable company uses machine learning. Get past today’s buzz words and focus on your real needs.

Fifth, people aren’t motivated to use the solution.

Again, this goes back to the practitioner’s view that “if we build it, they will use it.” But, people can’t use:

  • What they don’t know exists
  • What they can’t find
  • What they don’t know how to interact with

And, people won’t use what they aren’t rewarded for using (whether this is tangible or intangible benefits). 

The ideal approach would be to conduct and build communications to let people know, train them on the new technology and resolve conflicts so there is a healthy adoption of the initiative.

Sixth, you’re not measuring anything.

Without data, you can’t tell if you’re hitting the nail on the head. Data is an important input into educated decision making. Some of the most common things to measure are:

  • What are people searching for (keyword tracking)?
  • How many views did a piece of content get?
  • If you’re assessing knowledge, what were the assessment scores?
  • And, simply surveying your audience for data on their thoughts and opinions

With this information, you can make some educated decisions about what to do or where to go next.

Seventh, your content isn’t fresh or interesting.

As a user, if I’ve seen or read basically everything important to me that’s already been published, what’s the benefit to me of continuing to look for more published content? Especially if there’s not a history of regularly new content being published? If the content stops being valuable, people will stop using it.

While a majority of organizations embark on knowledge and learning management organically, the faster that you can harness the information and resources available to both your internal and external stakeholders and consolidate that information and resources into structured content, the better positioned your organization will be for the next major evolution in your business. It’s important to be aware of the common knowledge and learning management challenges faced by organizations so that your strategy can include activities to mitigate against these challenges.

Have more questions on how you can effectively launch your knowledge and learning management solutions? Write to Stephanie Schrankler, Director of Engagement and Effectiveness, and find out more or visit the link below. 

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About Sagitec Solutions

Sagitec Solutions, LLC designs and delivers tailor-made pension, provident fund, unemployment insurance, and healthcare and life sciences software solutions to clients of all sizes. Understanding that a dynamic world requires dynamic technology, Sagitec offers solutions that are highly configurable and extensible by nature. With deep industry experience in software implementation and systems integration, project management, consulting, hosting and software support, Sagitec is a partner clients can trust to deliver mission-critical IT projects. 

Topics: Enterprise Knowledge Management, Knowtion, Learning management