Tuesday 24 March 2020

What measurable benefits can you get from Knowledge Management?

What are the business metrics where Knowledge Management has delivered value? This is one of the questions we addressed in our recent survey of Knowledge Management, and the results are very interesting. 

527 of our respondents (Knowledge Managers from a wide range of industries, company sizes and geographies) answered the question "What tangible benefits have you seen so far from Knowledge management? Choose all that apply".

The results are shown below in a number of ways, and may be useful to you when discussing the benefits of KM with your stakeholders. 

 First let's look at the overall results, in the figure above. The most common benefit, identified by over 3/4 of those who replied, is a reduction in time to find information. Although this is a relatively small and tatical benefit - perhaps an order of magnitude or two less in value than the other benefits - it should be common to all KM programs. 

However this is not really a benefit that will engage senior managers, none of whow will lie awake at night worrying that their staff can't find information fast enough. 

This is followed by four benefits quoted by over 100 respondents, which are more likely to gain management attention:

  • Reduced time to competence for new staff
  • Reduced project or operational costs
  • Reduced project or activity cycle time
  • Improved customer satisfaction
Each of these should be measurable, and provided you have a good pre-KM benchmark, you should be able to measure the impact of your KM program.

Now let's look at how soon, in a KM program, these benefits are recognised.

In the plot above we show the benefits, as a percentage of respondents, for 3 categories of respondent:

  • Those from organisations just starting in KM
  • Those from organisations well in progress with KM
  • Those from organisations with KM fully embedded.
Note that the benefit of finding information faster is recognised at all stages of KM maturity. Some of the other benefits however, such as improved bid success, improved customer satisfaction and reduced project cost, only become significant when KM is fully embedded. For these more strategic benefits, you may need to be more patient.

Finally let's look a benefits by industry sector. This is a more difficult plot to read, but contains a lot of information. I have removed all sectors where I had fewer then 10 respondents answer this question, and used dashed lines for some of the minor benefits so you can see which line is which.

You can see how "reduced time to find information" is a generic benefit, and the most commonly cited benefit for almost all sectors.

Also "reduced time to competence" is a common benefit for all sectors other than military and emergency services. 

After these generic benefits, things get more complex. 

  • Improves customer satisfaction is a major beneft for IT and telecoms companies, and for legal firms
  • Faster projects are a major benefit for oil and gas
  • Cheaper projects are a major benefit for oil and gas, utilities and construction/engineering
  • Bid Success benefits apply to legal, construction and the professional services
You can probably see other results in this plot. 

Hopefully these results will help you craft a benefits statement for your own organisation.

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