Does your business suffer from knowledge gaps?
A knowledge gap – where key knowledge has not been studied and documented to effectively spread information and educate users inside and outside a business – can be a critical flaw in a company looking to maximise productivity, and ultimately grow profits. Knowledge (or data, key information, etc) is the difference between being in-or-out of control of your business operations. It’s the facts that separate you from your competition. It’s the core in which your business thrives.
According to Panopto, the average employees spend 5.3 hours per week waiting for information from their peers or management to do their job correctly.
If you’re looking to fill this gap, then the answer is knowledge sharing. But what exactly does that mean in this context?
Knowledge sharing is when a business sets about to identify and capture key business information and distribute it effectively amongst all users. This data is usually critical to the function of your business, and without it certain elements would grind to a halt. This could range from anything from customer data, such as contact information, to financial or logistical information, to internal processes, to how-to-use guides. There is no limit as to what qualifies as knowledge sharing.
Often this key information is segmented to a department, or even an individual. When an employee leaves their role, the knowledge they hold is likely stuck on their computer (or worse – in their head!), and those expected to take over the reins will struggle to maintain the same level of productivity as they search for the information they need, learn processes and familiarise themselves with the job at hand. 60% of employees claim anywhere between ‘difficult to near impossible’ to obtain information from their colleagues, just to perform basic tasks that come with their role. This lost time can quickly add up and affect a business’ bottom line and means you are losing out to competitors who are able to work faster and smarter.
Knowledge sharing is the antidote to the knowledge gap your business may be suffering from. Not only can it boost your productivity, but it can contribute to a well-oil internal workplace culture that reduces stress and ultimately reduces turnover. Another win for productivity!
There are many things you can do to start shrinking the knowledge gap:
- Communication: Promote communication within your business. This is the first step in improving knowledge sharing. No man (or woman) in your business is an island, and should be communicating their daily practices with those they come into contact with everyday.
- Documentation: By encouraging your employees to document their knowledge and any key information around their job, you can reduce the amount of time others will be able to pick up new responsibilities and apply their newfound knowledge.
- Routine: Creating a routine around the above communication and documentation previously mentioned can create habits in your employees that keep productivity flowing.
- Centralisation: It’s no good to collect information if it’s stored in many different places. Create a centralised location that all information can be stored and found, so your employees don’t waste time looking for what they need.
However, you don’t have to do this on your own. There are plenty of different tools that can help you to reduce your business’s knowledge gap and help you to see a notable improvement in productivity. These tools offer a variety of functions to your knowledge sharing that can help streamline the process and encourage your employees to keep the best documentation possible.
Some of these features might include:
- Version Control/Audit Trail: Allows you to access multiple versions of the same document and go back when any issues occur.
- Advanced Search Function: Advanced Search capabilities that make it easy to find exactly the information you’re looking for.
- Category Management: Structure your files through categories and subcategories with ease.
- Access Levels: Set rules as to who can and can’t access certain files or categories.
- Formatting: Such as code blocks, embedding, tables and attachments.
- Integration: Integrate your knowledge sharing tools with other programs for data input.
- BackUp: Automatic and cloud backup of all files to give you piece of mind.
If these functions seem like they would benefit your business, there a several different tools worth considering. Knowledge sharing tools can come in all shapes and sizes, such as CRM programmes to manage your consumer data, or a knowledge base to inform users and employees how to use your technical services. Here are a few that you may want to consider to boost your business functions:
A knowledge base such as Document360 is a scalable and collaborative database where knowledge is stored for the benefits of customers and end users. This is most often used to provide self-service help and education for customers of SaaS products and other services that typically offer a help desk ticket-based system. Its aim is to reduce the pressure on these support teams and make it easier for users to get hold of the information they need. Knowledge bases offer a structured form of documentation that makes it easier for those building it to collaborate and improve upon.
Social tools such as Hootsuite and Conversocial allows you to manage your customer engagement across multiple channels such as Facebook, Twitter etc. If you choose to offer customer service through your social media, social tools make it easier to document conversations and resolve issues fast and effectively, and offer integrations with your other business systems for you to be able to see customer history of engagement. You can set teams and user access levels, and even allocate communication to particular users.
Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
You may be familiar with CRM tools such as Salesforce or Dynamics. The goal of a CRM is to be able to effectively manage your customer data and track their progress through the sales cycle. This improves the transparency your business has over their customers and helps them to gain insight into behaviour and how long it takes for the typical customer to buy. While not all CRM systems are created equal and are dependant on your business needs, typical functionality includes opportunity management, analytics and customer lifecycle reporting.
There are many different financial tools you can use to track the money going in and out of your business such as Sage. These tools can hold and manage everything from your payroll, to your tax management to your general accounting. These tools are smart and intuitive so you don’t have to spend hours with your head into spreadsheets and can make better financial decisions. These tools can be structured to certain industries needs and offer different functionality based on the size of your business.
Before you choose which knowledge sharing tools are most valuable to your business, you must evaluate your needs and understand where your company’s knowledge gaps lie. For there on, any implementation of new tools must be introduced with new processes and rules. Draw out a plan of action and scale the introduction over a realistic time period with your team. Creating an internal habit of knowledge sharing can take time, but in the long term will serve a beneficial ROI and keep you one step ahead of the competitor.