April 1, 2014


Knowledge Management: Is it delivering the Value?

Knowledge Management is one of the highly used (or abused) processes in the organizations today. All the organizations have some form of knowledge management implemented to capture the knowledge. KM tools in general help the organization maintain this knowledge database & help the employees in deriving the benefits like reusability, quick ramp ups, reduced cycle times, references & any other past history that can be useful.

This article will target the audience who are interested in measuring the value delivered by the KM System. Once the Measurement is done, senior management can use the information to take informed decisions.

Process of measurement

Most of the organization’s senior management will like to understand the value that any system will bring to the organization before they can begin to invest in the same. KM system needs to pass this test as well & demonstrate enough value creation to gain full support from senior management. The process that needs to be followed is fairly simple & straight forward:

  • Identify one pilot project that is struggling because of lack of knowledge.
  • Identify & calculate the baseline metrics. (Covered later)
  • Introduce the KM system through the pilot project
  • Calculate the metrics again.
  • Find out the difference between before & After KM introduction.

This will come out very smooth if the identification of pilot project is done carefully.

Identify Key Metric

When it comes to measuring the effectiveness of KM System, most of the organizations are lagging behind. Not surprisingly, reason lies in defining the parameters to measure the KM System.  Most of the people can argue that, KM’s benefits are non-tangible and hence can’t be measured in hard numbers. But as per management principles, what cannot be measured cannot be managed. First and foremost thing to be done in any measurement is to identify the yardstick that will be used for measurement. Metrics can be Quantitative or Qualitative.

Most important characteristic of a good metrics used in KM is whether knowledge has been shared & used effectively. Example, metrics “No. of times database is hit” will suggest if the users are reading the document or knowledge. But, will not be able to tell if that knowledge was useful or not. Better metrics could be to track database usage coupled with questionnaire whether knowledge was helpful or not. Metrics that we can track can be broken into three categories as listed below & described later:

  • Compliance Metrics (Quantitative)
  • KM Activity Metrics (Qualitative)
  • Business Outcome Metrics

Compliance Metrics Measurement

These metrics do give hard numbers but should always be used in collaboration with other matrices.  Compliance measurement will ensure that all the projects, people & organization as a whole are complying by the KM process that has been setup. The key here will be to define the proper accountability of the members. Another key aspect to measure the compliance is to document the KM policies & standards so that there is no ambiguity in the process. Setting up a dashboard will be a good idea to track the compliances. Example metrics are as follows:

  • Page Hits on KM site (Dwelling time per page)
  • No. of Downloads
  • No. of Users/contributors

KM Activity Metrics

Compliance metrics alone will not give the complete picture. Example, “Page Hits” can give you the no. of times user visited the page but will not tell you if it was useful for the user. So, in addition to above metrics we can use another set of metrics which will help us measure at the Project/Task level.

  • No. of responses received in Forums/Blogs
  • User Questionnaire on whether the information was useful or not
  • User comments on whether any launched initiative was helpful
  • Best Practices uploaded frequency 

Business Outcome Metrics

Last but not the least is the impact of KM on your business. It is not worth investing in the KM if that system is not helping you move closure to your business objectives. KM system should help you meet the business goals like Cycle time reduction, Cost Reduction, First time right etc. There should be a direct relation between the knowledge & the improvement happening at the organization level.

  • Time saved because of implementing KM (Can be measured using various metrics like reduction in turn-around time of tickets etc.)
  • Cost saved as a result of applying knowledge
  • Customer satisfaction before & after KM implementation