Sharing, archiving and reusing information occurs in most organizations, but leaving these activities to chance decreases the likelihood they will happen. In contrast, implementing a formal Knowledge Management (KM) program, with finite, measurable parameters that can be scrutinized relative to best practices, maximizes the likelihood of success. In addition, the KM program will have a better chance of adding to the company’s bottom line if it is aligned with other key business processes. For example, if customer service representatives are instructed on the importance of documenting each significant interaction as part of a KM initiative yet they are rewarded strictly on the number of problems resolved per shift and not for documenting problems and solutions, the initiative will fail. What’s more, they will likely be less effective because of confused communications from management.
In contrast, if the KM initiative is orchestrated with a customer relations management (CRM) effort, the synergies between the two efforts can contribute to the success of each other as well as to the company’s bottom line. Part of the task of managing information is understanding the process in which it is created, used, stored, and eventually disposed of and how to accomplish that when the cost of maintaining it is greater than its likely future value. Managing information— whether in the form of multimedia for marketing purposes or heuristics for decision making—typically involves eight discrete stages as well as a tracking function. These stages constitute the KM life cycle:
1. Knowledge creation or acquisition
2. Knowledge modification
3. Immediate use
7. User access