Thursday 9 July 2020

10 charts to show how KM develops and matures

As KM matures in an organisation, what changes? Our survey data shows some clear trends between the early stages and the "fully embedded" stage.

In the three Knoco global surveys of Knowledge Management, conducted in 2014, 2017 and 2020, one of the questions we asked was "how mature in KM in your organisation" with three possible answers -
  • We are in the early stages;
  • We are well in progress with KM;
  • KM is embedded in the way we work.

This question then allowed us to filter all the other responses to see what changes with maturity. The results demonstrate developments in factors such as:
  1. The scope of KM
  2. The level of integration of KM
  3. The level of embedding of KM
  4. Explicit KM
  5. Application of tacit KM
  6. Effectiveness of tacit KM
  7. The use of governance elements
  8. The size of the KM team
  9. The size of the KM budget
  10. The benefits derived from KM
These developments are shown below.

The scope of KM

In the early stages of KM, it is often adopted in one division or one pilot area. As KM matures, it seems to be increasingly adopted across the whole organisation.

Degree of integration

In the early stages of adoption, KM is usually not part of normal activity, but is performed by a separate group, as an exception, or when requested. As KM matures, it is increasingly seen as a routine part of normal activity.

Embedding of KM elements

A small proportion of the organisations in the early stages of KM report that the elements of KM, such as roles, processes, technologies, behaviours and incentives, are integrated within the organisational structures and norms. This percentage increases steadily as KM progresses. 

Management of explicit knowledge

A (slight) majority of organisations in the early stages of KM have documents scattered across many stores, with no tagging. As KM matures, this proportion rapidly diminshes, and many more organisations report the use of tagging, document curation, and the synthesis of explicit knowledge into guidance and best practice.

Management of tacit knowledge

The percentage of survey respondents using approaches focused on tacit knowledge, such as lesson learning, knowledge retention, communities of practice and the development of best practices, increases steadily as KM matures. 

Effectiveness of tacit KM

Not only does the usage of tacit KM elements increase, so does the average level effectiveness as judged by the survey respondents. In the early stages the average effectiveness measures were between 2.0 and 2.8, rising to 2.9 to 3.6 as KM becomes embedded,

Use of governance elements

As discussed in this blog post, maturing KM sees a greater level of application of the elements of KM governance.

KM team size

As KM matures and spreads within the organisation, the size of the KM team grows. Team size is also dependent on organisational size, and the plot above shows the average team size for different organisational sizes (numbers of staff) and different levels of maturity. This relationship is discussed in this blog post, which used data from the 2014 and 2017 surveys.

KM budget size

As the KM team size increases, so does the organisational budget (of course there is more to the budget than just the salaries of the team). The plot shows that for the larger organisations, the annual KM budget, measured in $US millions, increases with KM maturity. There is no such increase with the smaller organisations. 

Benefits from KM

Even though the budget increases, so do the benefits. The plot above shows the proportion of respondents reporting benefits from different mechanisms. Benefits from easier retrieval of information are seen in the early stages, but the bigger benefits of cheaper, faster projects, happier customers, increased win rate and greater market share are reported more widely as KM matures.


The plots shown here show how KM progresses and matures, becoming more embedded, working better with explicit and tacit knowledge, becoming integrated in many ways, with a well developed governance struture, requiring a bigger team and more budget, but delivering greater and greater value.

Use these plots to create your vision for fully embedded KM, to give you something to work towards in the early stages. 

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