How to Build a Workplace Knowledge Management System (KMS)

Learn what a knowledge management system is, why you should have one, and how to build an effective KMS at your workplace.

July 27, 2023
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Building a Workplace Knowledge Management System (KMS)

Imagine a workplace where every piece of information, every valuable insight, and every critical process is at your fingertips, ready to be accessed and utilized immediately. This isn't just a dream - it's what a well-implemented Knowledge Management System (KMS) can offer. 

This article will guide you on how to create a KMS in your workplace that amplifies productivity and fosters innovation. Let's get started.

What is Knowledge Management?

Knowledge management is a systematic approach that businesses use to identify, create, store, distribute, and apply the knowledge necessary to carry out their activities. It's a strategy that focuses on leveraging a company's collective knowledge to achieve specific objectives.

Consider this - 89% of employees search between 1 to 6 sources looking for information to do their jobs effectively, according to a report by Coveo — and more than half of that ends up irrelevant. 

That's a significant portion of time that could be better spent on innovation, decision-making, and other tasks that move a business forward.

Now, if knowledge management is the philosophy, then a knowledge management system is the practical tool that makes this philosophy work in the real world. So, what is a Knowledge Management System? Let's explore that next.

What is a Knowledge Management System?

A knowledge management system, or KMS, is a digital platform that holds, organizes, and offers access to organizational knowledge. These systems vary in complexity from basic document storage solutions to intricate databases. They help to improve teamwork, make workflows more efficient, and reduce knowledge gaps within an organization.

Let's put it into perspective. Suppose an employee comes up with an innovative solution to a common problem in the company. If they record their solution in a KMS, any other employee facing the same issue in the future can access it. This way, the company doesn't lose the value of that experience, and it prevents repetitive problems.

What are some examples of knowledge management systems?

Various systems qualify as KMS, each serving unique purposes based on the type of knowledge it manages. We’ll look at five common knowledge management examples:

  • Document management systems (DMS): These tools store, manage, and track digital documents and digital images of paper-based information. They often allow multiple team members to access and edit documents together. Examples of document management systems include Google Drive and Dropbox .
  • Learning management systems: These platforms allow businesses to create, manage, and deliver eLearning courses to help employees improve their skills and knowledge. For instance, Coursera for Business is used by organizations for employee training and skill development
  • Content management systems: These systems help create, manage, and modify content on a website without the need for specialized technical knowledge. Some examples include WordPress and Drupal.
  • Data analytics tools: Data analytics tools use data to generate insights and improve decision making. Some examples of data analytics tools include Excel, Microsoft Power BI, Tableau, KNIME, and R.

What are the 3 major types of knowledge management systems?

The three main types of KMS are enterprise-wide knowledge management software, knowledge work systems, and intelligent techniques.

  • Enterprise-wide knowledge management systems: These systems are used by companies to share information across the entire organization. For example, if a company has many branches or teams, an enterprise-wide KMS allows everyone to communicate, collaborate, and share knowledge easily. SharePoint is an example of this type of KMS.
  • Knowledge work systems: These systems help individuals or teams who deal with specific tasks that require deep knowledge or expertise. For instance, a group of engineers working on a complex design problem might use a KMS designed for their unique needs. This KMS could include software like AutoCAD that helps them create and modify technical designs.
  • Intelligent techniques: These systems use artificial intelligence for knowledge management. They use machine learning and natural language processing to organize and classify large volumes of data.

With a good understanding of these examples and categories of knowledge management systems, you can create a KMS that fits the unique needs of your organization. But before we get into the how-to of building your KMS, let's briefly discuss why having one is crucial for your business.

Why is a Knowledge Management System Important For Your Business?

Knowledge Management System (KMS) is more than just an organized way to store data. It plays a critical role in a business's productivity, innovation, and efficiency. In fact, according to Deloitte, knowledge management is one of the top 3 issues affecting company success, especially in post-pandemic times.

There are several reasons why a KMS is important in your organization. We’ll look at a few below:

1. Efficiency and productivity

A Knowledge Management System (KMS) acts like a neatly organized library. It keeps all your business info in one place, making it easy to find what you need quickly, and reducing the time wasted in hunting for information.

In fact, did you know that employees spend an average of 3 hours each workday looking for internal information or seeking help from colleagues? By making information readily available, a KMS helps creates better work results, higher profits, and happier employees.

2. Better decision making

Having a KMS guides your decisions by giving you access to relevant and accurate information. When your team can easily access past project data, market trends, and customer feedback, they can make informed decisions that drive your business forward.

A KMS reduces ambiguity in decision-making by offering concrete data and insights. This leads to fewer mistakes and more effective choices. Moreover, a KMS democratizes decision-making, allowing every team member to contribute their knowledge.

3. Stimulates innovation

A KMS makes it easy for employees to share, access, and use knowledge in creative ways. This boosts innovation in your company.

For instance, an employee working on a new project can use the KMS to access past similar projects. They learn from these past projects and use that knowledge to come up with new ideas for their current work.

Moreover, KMS encourages everyone in your company to share their unique ideas and insights. This helps to create a rich mix of ideas that can lead to innovative products, services, or solutions.

4. Preserves company knowledge

A KMS ensures your company's valuable knowledge doesn't get lost over time. If an employee leaves, their knowledge stays in the system, ready for others to learn from. This also applies to completed projects. The successes, challenges, and lessons of a project are preserved, becoming a knowledge resource for future work. This constant preservation keeps your company learning and evolving.

5. Improved customer service

With a knowledge management tool, your customer service team has instant access to answers to common customer questions, past interactions, and relevant product or service information. This makes it quicker and easier to help customers, leading to improved service and customer satisfaction. The KMS can also help identify common customer issues, letting you improve your products or services based on real customer feedback.

In the next section, we'll discuss the steps you can take to set up an effective KMS for your business.

Key Features for Building a Good Knowledge Management System

Automation is the future. By 2025, AI and machine learning will contribute to a 37% increase in labor productivity. So, it’s imperative that you start planning for tomorrow by investing in an intuitive and comprehensive knowledge management system today.

Before we dive into how to create a KMS, it's essential to know what makes a good one. Here are the key features that set apart an effective knowledge management system:

  1. User-friendly interface: A KMS should be like a well-organized library — easy to navigate. Imagine clear signs pointing you to where you need to go, and an effective search system that helps you find exactly what you're looking for, quickly. That's the ease a successful KMS should bring. Its design should also be straightforward and should make it easy to locate, add, or update information. 
  2. Search efficiency: To boost productivity, a KMS needs to swiftly locate necessary information. This feature not only saves time but also streamlines workflows. Assembly's design addresses this need. It has a potent search function that lets you find documents or presentations across all integrated tools and apps without hassle. This feature eliminates the pain of time-consuming searches and helps employees find the exact documents or presentations they need without wading through irrelevant data. 
  3. Active feedback mechanism: Your KMS should offer a responsive feedback system to optimize its utility. This function helps you collect and share important data with your teams. Assembly has a robust feedback feature, facilitating rapid data collection, distribution, and scheduling reminders to keep everyone on the same page.
  4. Integration with other tools: Seamless integration with other business tools is another pivotal feature for a top-tier KMS. This feature ensures no vital information slips through the cracks. Assembly, designed for today's diverse business landscape, provides excellent integration with a host of business tools like Slack, Teams, and Workday.
  5. Culture-building capabilities: A KMS should do more than just manage information; it should help build and sustain company culture. Assembly has incorporated this principle into its design. It offers features like announcements, news feeds, and various types of meeting capabilities to promote participation, connectivity, and engagement among all team members. 
  6. Appreciation recognition: Encouraging knowledge sharing in a workplace is easier when there's a system of recognition in place. Assembly understands this, offering a feature that allows team members to express appreciation for each other's work through feedback and nominations. 
  7. Tailor-made experience: One size doesn't fit all when it comes to a KMS. Each company has unique needs and a distinct brand identity. Assembly caters to this by providing a highly customizable platform. This ensures that the system feels familiar and resonates with your team, reducing resistance to its adoption and maximizing user engagement.
  8. Security and trust: The KMS should safeguard confidential company information and ensure data safety and trust. With Assembly, you don't have to worry about data breaches or information misuse. The platform is built with robust security measures to protect your company's precious knowledge. Trusting your KMS gives peace of mind, freeing your team to focus on other critical tasks.
  9. User-friendly interface: A good KMS should offer an intuitive, easy-to-use interface to encourage adoption and ease the transition process. Assembly, with its user-friendly interface, ensures that all users, regardless of technical skill level, can navigate the platform efficiently.

Remember, a KMS is more than just a place to store information. It's a tool that should help your team work smarter and more efficiently. By focusing on these features, you'll be well on your way to building a successful KMS. Now let's take a look at how to build a KMS.

How to Build a Successful Knowledge Management System (KMS)

Building knowledge management systems (KMS) involves a series of carefully planned steps. We will look at those steps one by one.

1. Identify your knowledge needs

The first step in building knowledge management tools (KMS) is identifying what kind of information your team uses daily. Here's how to do it:

  • Talk to team members about the information they regularly use. Ask, "What do you often refer to during your work?" Their responses will provide insights into what your KMS should include.
  • Examine your team's daily tasks. Identify the information required to perform these tasks. It might be client details, project histories, or technical guides.
  • Reflect on what knowledge is unique to your company. This could be patented technologies, internal processes, or exclusive research data. Safeguarding this knowledge is vital for maintaining your business edge.

After you've pinpointed your knowledge needs, you're set to move to the next phase

2. Collect and organize your knowledge

After identifying your knowledge needs, it's time to collect and organize the information. This means gathering valuable insights from across your organization and creating a system to manage it all. Like this:

  • Get input from everyone. Knowledge doesn't only come from the top or the knowledge manager. Employees at all levels hold valuable insights.
  • Set a process for collection. This could be regular meetings or online surveys that encourage employees to share their knowledge.
  • Use tech tools. Digital tools can aid in collecting, storing, and organizing knowledge. 

Keep your organization scheme clear and intuitive, grouping similar topics together. This way, your employees can find what they need without any hassle.

3. Choose a knowledge management system

After identifying your needs and gathering your organization's knowledge, the next step is to invest in a reliable knowledge management platform. This system will serve as your central hub, the brain of your organization. It's the place where all the important knowledge will be stored, accessed, and managed.

Bear in mind that this isn't just about selecting software. It's about choosing a partner for your organization's journey toward knowledge-centric growth.

Assembly is a great choice for managing your company's knowledge. Opting for Assembly means setting up an environment that not only values knowledge but also nurtures progress and growth.

4. Input your knowledge

Your next step is inputting your gathered knowledge into the chosen management system. This phase can be time-consuming, but the benefits you'll reap make it worthwhile. You're essentially populating your KMS with all the data, documents, and resources your team needs to excel.

  • Start with the most crucial and frequently used knowledge. These could be operational guidelines, project plans, or customer insights. This makes an immediate impact on your team's workflow.
  • Include varied formats. Don't limit your KMS to text documents only. Include videos, podcasts, infographics – anything that conveys information effectively.
  • Regular updates. As you gain new insights or information, update your KMS accordingly. This ensures your system stays relevant and useful.

The key here is to make the process as organized as possible. Your KMS should be intuitive and easy to navigate, so your team can find what they need without unnecessary delays.

5. Train your team

Training your team to use the new KMS not only ensures they can utilize it effectively but also encourages your knowledge sharing culture. Here are some tips to guide you:

  • Run workshops. Carry out training sessions that are interactive and engaging. Show your team how to find and upload information.
  • Make resources available. Provide guides and manuals that employees can refer to if they need clarification on using the KMS.
  • Encourage questions. Create an environment where people feel comfortable asking questions about the KMS. This could be through Q&A sessions or an open-door policy.

Remember, the goal is to ensure everyone feels confident in using the new system. The more comfortable they are, the more they'll use it, and the more your organization benefits.

6. Encourage usage and feedback

Your KMS will only be as good as its usage. Promote it as an integral part of your team's daily activities. 

  • Communicate its importance. Regularly talk about the benefits of the KMS and idea management to motivate your team.
  • Reward usage. You can incentivize usage by acknowledging those who use the KMS regularly.
  • Open up to feedback. Let your team know their opinions matter. Allow for suggestions on how to improve the system. This makes them feel involved and boosts usage.

7. Keep your system up-to-date

A KMS isn't a one-off project; it requires continuous updates. Keep your KMS fresh with these steps:

  • Assign a manager. Designate someone to ensure the KMS stays relevant and organized.
  • Schedule updates. Regularly add new information to the KMS. It could be weekly or monthly based on your company's needs.
  • Review the system. Regularly check the KMS to ensure it's still serving your needs. This could mean adding new features or removing outdated ones.

In the end, remember a well-functioning KMS takes time, commitment, and a culture that values knowledge. But when done right, it can be a game-changer for your business.

Building a Future-Proof Business with a KMS

Creating a knowledge management system (KMS) is an investment. It evolves alongside your business, adapts to new knowledge needs, and contributes to its long-term success. Don't leave your company's collective wisdom to chance. By prioritizing knowledge management today, you're setting the foundation for a more resilient, adaptable, and intelligent business tomorrow. Commit to knowledge management today. It’s your edge for the future.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Is Assembly SOC 2 compliant?

Yes, at Assembly, security is a top priority. Each quarter, we have ongoing security work that is everyone’s responsibility. While we maintain a strong security posture, it was important for us to prove to our customers that we do everything we claim to do. This led us to pursue a SOC 2 Type II report that would provide evidence of our compliance with industry gold-standard security practice.

What's the ROI for employee recognition?

There is study after study showing that employee recognition leads to increased engagement. This in return creates an environment where employees are happier and more motivated which increase productivity and reduces voluntary turnover significantly. In order to filled critical roles, companies tend to spend nearly twice the value of an annual salary. Assembly is an investment in your employees that supports your bottom line.

Does Assembly offer longer-term contracts?

Yes, we will offer contracts for companies with longer-term agreements to help larger customers have more certainty around future costs.

The minimum agreement term is a 12-month subscription.

Does Assembly offer onboarding support?

We do and for FREE! Any new customer needing further support to get started with Assembly to ensure you're set up for success can request custom onboarding support. Improving your employee experience is about much more than just using our amazing software; it’s about transforming your business to create a workplace that people love. That’s much easier to do with the personal support and advice from our passionate people experts.

Is there a free version of Assembly?

Yes. We offer a completely free plan for up to 50 team members. This plan is intended for teams or organizations that are looking to get started with an employee engagement tool. Keep in mind, this plan is limited in features.

All customers can open an Assembly account for free and get started without a credit card. Then you can change plans as necessary.

How much do rewards cost?

At the time of redemption (when your employees exchange their points for a paid reward) you'll pay face value. If a reward is a $10 Amazon gift card, your cost will be $10. All paid rewards are billed for on a monthly basis.

The good news is that you don't have to pay for rewards upfront because we only charge you when points are redeemed, not when they're earned.

Does Assembly offer discounts?

We offer discounts or educational or charitable organizations. In order to secure a discount, you'll first need to book a demo with a customer support specialist.

For all other organizations, we are willing to consider longer-term agreements in exchange for discounts. To set up annual plans or longer, you will need to book a demo with a customer support specialist.

How do I cancel my plan if needed?

If you're on a month to month plan, you can go here and cancel anytime. If you're having concerns or need help setting up your account for success, you can always book a demo with a customer support specialist.

If you're on a longer-term custom plan, you'll need to reach out to your customer support specialist to cancel your account or email us at support@joinassembly.com.

What customizations are available?

Great question! You can customize your core values to match your organization's to boost and track alignment. You can change your currency from the 🏆 emoji (our default) to any emoji of your choice. You can swap our logo for your own. You can also set up company culture rewards such as, "Lunch with the CEO," "Buy a book on us," and so much more!

Who can give or receive recognition?

While we recommend a peer to peer set up where anyone in your organization can give or receive recognition, you can set up Assembly however you want. If you need to limit the people who can give or receive recognition, that's perfectly fine and can be done from your Admin, here.

What integrations are available?

Assembly connects to the tools your employees use every day to offer an easy, seamless experience with minimal change management.  

Assembly has integrations with HCM/HRIS systems like ADP, Google, Office 365, and Slack. We also integrate with communication tools like Slack and Teams so you and your employees can access Assembly wherever they work now.

What's your average adoption rate?

That depends on the company's permissions set up. That said, over 90% of the employees on Assembly's platform are recognized on a monthly basis. That means nearly every employee across all of our customers are receiving regular recognition from their peers, managers, or leadership. We're extremely proud of this.

Must rewards be set up to use Assembly?

They are not required. You can use Assembly without having rewards set up. However, we don't recommend it if you intend to have a high adoption and usage rate. You can always keep the costs down by offering internal culture rewards that are fulfilled by you internally.

Are points required to use Assembly?

No, you can remove allowances from anyone or everyone. It's up to you but we do recommend using points whether they're worth a real dollar value or not. Companies that use points have a much higher engagement rate even if those points don't exchange for real dollars.

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