Wednesday 11 January 2017

Benefits mapping in Knowledge Management

The benefits map is a great way to determine and document the benefits knowledge management will bring to your business.

Benefits mapping is one of the several tools we use with our clients when developing a Knowledge Management Strategy, in order to link KM interventions as closely as possible to realised benefits. We do this in a workshop with the KM team and their management as an early stage exercise, and often find that this is where "the penny drops" for many of the managers in terms of the value of KM.

The aims and objectives of your KM programme need to be expressed in terms of organizational outcomes. It is tempting to write objectives such as “deliver better access to knowledge”, or “improve innovation and the retention of knowledge”, but neither of these is a helpful objective in business terms. Your organization does not exist to retain knowledge or deliver access to knowledge, but to make money, deliver services, or sell products. The benefits map allows your KM interventions to be linked to organizational goals, so that everybody is clear that what you are doing is supporting the core business of the organization.

The template for the benefits map is shown above. There is a column on the left where you put your planned KM interventions; a column on the far right where you put the main strategic goals for the organization; then, to the left of this, acolumn where you define measurable outcomes relating to those strategic goals. The space in between is where you create your benefits map.

Let’s imagine that you are working for a sales and marketing organization. Your main strategic goals are growth, profit and sustainability, so you begin by entering these in the right hand column. You have decided with your team that suitable first-stage KM interventions might include the launch of a community of practice covering "new markets", a sales wiki, a marketing knowledge base and a consumer-focused discussion forum. You enter these down the left hand column. Then, starting from the left, you map what each of the KM interventions makes possible. These possible outcomes go in the “business changes” area, starting from the left, with an arrow coming from the relevant intervention. You continue this process for several iterations, until you reach something measurable (measurable outcome) linked to a strategic goal.

You can find a full description of the process in The Knowledge Manager's Handbook; my latest book, written with Patrick Lambe.

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