Knowledge Management Strategies for Successful Project Collaboration

Knowledge Management Strategies for Successful Project Collaboration

Collaboration is vital to the successful stewardship of any project, regardless of the industry or sector in which you operate. But no matter how good you are at wrangling large teams or conveying your desired achievements, ensuring that people work together effectively is impossible without the help of certain tools.

Two decades ago the cost of not being able to find knowledge efficiently was costing businesses $12 billion annually. Today, IDC estimates put this figure at over $31 billion, indicating that no organization can afford to overlook the need to facilitate cohesive collaboration by any means.

This is where knowledge management comes into play, providing you with an opportunity to make sure that critical information can be shared and expanded upon over the course of a project. But what are some of the strategies and solutions you should pursue and are there any pitfalls to consider?

Corporate Wiki Creation

Wikis have become a staple of knowledge management in the digital age, and there is no doubt that there are a few advantages to creating a central store of information which can be added to and edited by anyone within the team or organization as a whole.

Where a wiki does deliver the goods is employee engagement, since team members will feel more invested in a project if they feel that they are more directly involved in contributing to its informational legacy. Likewise the knowledge that is created and made accessible via this approach can inform subsequent training strategies, drive up productivity and lessen the likelihood of costly accidents occurring in particular settings.

A corporate wiki is open source by definition, which is its strength and its weakness. This approach to knowledge generation and retention might make sense in certain scenarios and is definitely something that seems to require minimal administrative effort to operate, at least superficially. However, a knowledge base may still be a better solution than a corporate wiki; a point that is worth unpicking.

Knowledge Base Benefits

The core tenets of internal knowledge base use are the same as those of a corporate wiki. Chiefly such a platform will provide an organization with the ability to collate and curate useful information over time, giving staff a means of learning about important processes and practices without eating into any other resources in the process.

From the perspective of collaboration on a project, a knowledge base can be used to get everyone up to speed on the steps that should be followed to deliver the desired results. This works just as well for internal employees as it does for any outside contractors or consultants that might be involved, especially if they are working remotely.

Where a knowledge base diverges from a corporate wiki is in terms of how the information is added. Rather than letting anyone contribute knowledge to the central pot, this is instead handed by a dedicated team. The result is that you have complete control over every ounce of data that is made available, which can be a huge advantage, even if it might seem innately less conducive to organic collaboration.

Using a knowledge base means that total accuracy of information can be assured at all times, allowing for a more uniform, unified knowledge management strategy. While a wiki might be many times larger thanks to the sheer number of contributors, it will lack the structure and cohesion of a precisely operated knowledge base.

The question of employee engagement once again raises its head; won’t staff feel less invested in a project if they are unable to contribute their knowledge in an open source arena? Thankfully this is a misconception, since a knowledge base will empower and engage them specifically because the content is laid out logically and the benefits can be gleaned in an ordered fashion. Rather than having to spend hours searching for a specific titbit of info that they need, it should be at their fingertips in a matter of moments.

Fighting Fragmentation

This is perhaps the most important aspect of any knowledge management strategy you embrace, since for projects to be pulled off successfully, it is necessary to avoid keeping useful information cloistered within specific teams or departments. This applies even if it is not immediately obvious how seemingly case-specific data might be relevant elsewhere within the organization. The point is that with so much information being generated and augmented, it is impossible for a single person to see the bigger picture.

One aspect of the fight against fragmentation comes down to the apps you choose to use to allow collaboration between colleagues and the way that the data generated by their use is stored. Ideally these apps will be available across the entire organization, rather than being limited to a single team. Ensuring that a consistent app ecosystem is adopted will prevent people breaking off and leveraging solutions that are not present elsewhere.

Of course it pays to take employee feedback into account when it comes to selecting which apps to use, rather than ploughing ahead and sticking to a platform that is generally disliked. Large corporations are known to oust services that are not clicking with their staff, so it is perfectly acceptable for smaller organizations to be similarly responsive and discerning.

Dealing with Documentation

While you may decide that a knowledge base is preferable to a corporate wiki because of the control the former affords, your knowledge management strategy for project collaboration should not completely rule out the need for collecting input from team members.

This is certainly true when it comes to handling the creation and composition of the various documents that are essential to most projects. In short it is sensible to allow people to communicate in an informal way when working together to generate the more formal aspects of any project. Such an approach can be all the more impactful if discussions can take place within the document sharing platform itself, rather than being limited to separate forms of communication such as instant messaging and email.

You might already have taken all of these steps and considered all of these options, in which case your business is likely to be growing substantially faster than the competition. But with over half of organizations admitting that they have yet to incorporate collaboration technologies as part of their IT arsenals, it is clear that there is still much room for improvement. Not every knowledge management strategy or solution will be right for every enterprise, but failing to have any kind of framework in place should be completely unthinkable in this data driven age.

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