Every so often, a company may hold a knowledge audit. The objective of the audit is to look at the knowledge within the company, and see whether it is being properly managed. The purpose of the audit, and the job of the auditor, is to reassure the company and the shareholders that the intangible asset that is Knowledge is being properly looked after, much as a financial audit provides reassurance that money is being properly managed.
A Knowledge Auditor has a much tougher job than a financial auditor. The invisible nature of knowledge, and the lack of a paper trail for knowledge transfer, compared to the fully documented and counter signed world of money, makes knowledge auditing less of a science and more of an art. However a structured and evidence based approach works wonders.
The knowledge auditor will look at the state of management of each of the main knowledge domain areas. They will seek for evidence that
- the explicit knowledge is well documented, complete and up to date
- the knowledge is owned
- the knowledge is sufficiently well spread round the organisation
- there are sufficient subject matter experts
- the risk of loss of these experts is manageable
- there is a sufficiently effective community of practice in place (the auditor may also assess the maturity of the CoP)
They may also assess the completeness of the Knowledge Management Framework in the organisation. In this blog post I compare this to reviewing your orchard management, and the audit to counting the apples. If your orchard is well managed it should bear fruit, and successive audits should show improvement over time.