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6 Reasons why Knowledge Management Implementations Fail

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6 Reasons why Knowledge Management Implementations Fail

Mar 10, 2023   |  By
KMI Guest Blogger Gary Wyatt

So you've successfully launched a new Knowledge Management initiative; however, several years later, it is deemed a failure!
What happened?

Here are my top 6 reasons Knowledge Management initiatives fail,
the underlying causes, and the best way to mitigate them.

1 - Lack of Senior Management Engagement

Sometimes KM is treated as a one-off launch, with lots of excitement initially; however, BAU lacks focus. Therefore, you must actively engage Senior Managers in KM and show its benefits to the business on an ongoing basis. It's crucial that if organisational restructuring or role changes occur and new Senior stakeholders arrive on the scene, they see the constant value of KM. Without Senior Leadership support, funding and resources for Knowledge Management are likely to reduce.

2 - Content Quality

If the quality of content that customers and frontline staff access is poor, end-user engagement will suffer. 

Quality issues typically occur when you don't have enough people with the right skills to manage the content lifecycle. Quality drops when content authors are under pressure to deliver content quickly. Quality also drops if the frontline is not actively engaged through continuous feedback, so keeping an ongoing dialogue with the frontline and customers is essential. 

Poor content quality will impact: Findability, Readability, Accuracy and the Reliability of the Knowledge Management solution. Trust will erode with the end users.

3 - Lack of Frontline Staff and Customer Engagement

As well as content quality, if there are no ongoing adoption and engagement activities with the frontline and customers, then Knowledge Management will not meet the user's needs on an ongoing basis.

Users will stop relying on it and find other means to get what they need, for example, asking a colleague or team manager or putting their notes on the desktop—leading to inconsistent experiences, upset customers, increases in complaints, escalations and quality issues. Frontline staff will lose faith in knowledge management, which could cause a high attrition rate. 

4 - Lack of responsibility / accountability for Knowledge Management

This could be caused by a lack of clarity on roles and responsibilities. For Knowledge Management to remain successful in BAU, it needs:-

Ongoing Knowledge Management vision. 
Ongoing Governance, with roles, responsibilities and accountability for Knowledge      management, clearly defined. 
Knowledge management practices embedded into everyday processes. 

5 - Technology Issues

These can come in several forms: -

Knowledge Management is delivered as a Technology solution rather than a Business or Cultural solution.
The KM solution is over-customised or integrated into other systems without      consideration of the technical debt or the end-user experience.
The gap in expectations between technical teams and business users. 
Lack of ongoing technology roadmap for continuous improvement and innovation.
Technology outages, slowness, and features needing to be fixed.
Finger-pointing and apportioning blame between different technical teams or vendors rather than working together and collaborating.
Technology teams driving KM can lose focus on the end user. Instead, KM should be business-led with support from Tech.

6 - Lack of Obvious Value to the Business

Without a clear vision and a clear way of measuring and delivering value, people will not be aware of the ongoing benefits of Knowledge management and its progress. Negative perception (rightly or wrongly apportioned) is a killer concerning knowledge management and is challenging to change further down the line.

How to stop this from happening? 

The Knowledge Management Team and Knowledge Manager roles are vital in managing the above. They should consistently show the value Knowledge Management brings, working with end users and Senior Leadership to keep them engaged. Ensuring the Tech, processes, culture, governance metrics, and content quality are all in place and continuously improving for the business in line with the broader Knowledge Management vision.

These guys are the gatekeepers for excellent Knowledge management. 

Gary Wyatt is an award-winning knowledge management professional with over 22 years of experience across multiple roles, countries, languages, and industries. Gary has a proven track record of helping businesses achieve greater effectiveness and efficiency through the application of knowledge management tools, principles, and techniques across multiple channels. Gary is committed to helping organisations to deliver tangible, measurable results and believes that by effectively managing and leveraging knowledge, businesses can unlock huge potential and achieve their goals.  
Connect with Gary at LinkedIn...

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