Why do Knowledge Management Initiatives Fail?
The early results from my annual member technology survey are in, and while it appears that overall spending is definitely down this year, companies continue to make investments in technology with proven ROI. One of those bright spots is knowledge management (agent facing and customer facing knowledgebases, search technology), with strong 2009 spending planned. My inquiries regarding KM are up as well, with many large companies investing heavily in 2009 to overhaul KM technology and process in hopes of improving service, increasing productivity, and driving up self-service adoption and success. And as I explain in my soon to be published article about KM as the starting point for service convergence, I’m also hearing from members that there is renewed emphasis on capturing intellectual property from employees in case the economy forces downsizing.
I responded to an inquiry yesterday from a member who asked: What are the major pitfalls that contribute to most KM failures? Here are my top 5 reasons, and I would love to hear from all of my KM-savy readers what else belongs on the list:
- Expecting the KM technology to create a process where none exists. Technology enforces your processes, it doesn’t create them. This of course is true for any technology: CRM, ERP, SCM, etc. But it is definitely true of KM.
- The opposite is also a problem: Hard coding broken processes into new technology. If it isn’t working today, why emulate the current process with new technology? As an example, I see companies customizing systems to support their current approval/publishing process…which takes 3 months or more to publish new content. Investing in new KM infrastructure is a great time to start over with processes, and the services arm of your KM vendor, or your 3rd party KM consulting partner, can definitely help.
- Lack of participation. This is a problem everyone encounters: some employees are reticent to contribute their knowledge to the system because they fear it will make them less valuable. The solution is a) for the push to contribute to come from above, and b) that these employees understand that the goal is to give them more interesting and challenging work, and not have them answering the same questions over and over
- Lack of adoption. If people (agents, customers or both) don’t use the system it can’t pay for itself. Having a big launch with incentives to use the system is important, and touting early victories (like improvements to first contact resolution or resolution time) to everyone is a great way to highlight the benefits of the system.
- Lack of maintenance. Ongoing work is required to weed out unused articles, rewrite content as necessary, etc. Most companies put a lot of emphasis on going live, then resources are pulled from the project after 6-9 months. Don’t let your big investment and hard work go to waste, keep up the effort to maintain the content.
What has your experience been? What contributes to lack of KM success? Or look at it from the opposite way, what elements must be present for KM to succeed? Please add comments or shoot me an email, I will respond to all. And if I receive some good information I’ll write up a report and share it with all contributors. Thanks for reading!