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5 Common Knowledge Management Challenges -- and How an Employee Experience Platform can Solve Them

21 Sep 2023

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As organisations become increasingly dispersed and move to implement an digital workplace, the need for effective knowledge management has never been greater.

However, with increased knowledge flowing in and out of organisations, comes a range of knowledge management problems.

A McKinsey report noted that employees spend almost 20% of their workweek searching for internal information or reaching out to colleagues for assistance. That's almost an entire day each week!  

Organisations that can effectively capture, manage, and share their knowledge are better equipped to adapt to change, innovate, and make informed decisions.

In this blog post, we'll explore the key challenges in knowledge management and how an employee experience platform can help solve these knowledge management issues.

Why is Knowledge Management Important?

According to Knowledge Management expert David Gurteen, "Knowledge management is essentially about facilitating the processes of knowledge sharing and creating a culture of learning, innovation and sharing."

Put simply, as Larry Prusak explains, "Knowledge management is about making the right knowledge available to the right people at the right time."

A survey by Deloitte found that 80% of organisations believe that effective knowledge management is essential to achieving their business objectives. Yet, despite the clear benefits of knowledge management, many organisations struggle to implement and maintain an effective system.

For more details, check out the article 'What is Knowledge Management and Why is it Important?'

What is an Employee Experience Platform?

Simply put, an Employee Experience Platform (EXP) is a comprehensive digital environment designed to streamline and enhance every touchpoint of an employee's journey across the business.  

One of the main EXPs is the company intranet. An intranet offers many benefits. This platform integrates various tools, applications, and communication pathways, creating a hub where employees can seamlessly access tools, applications, and communications required for their job.

As a bonus using an intranet can help you consolidate systems and costs as well.

An EXP isn't just a piece of software; it's a commitment to improving business processes and streamlining operations, as well as employee satisfaction. This includes streamlining knowledge management.

Good employee experience management comprises of a centralised interface for employees to access, share, and collaborate on information (and knowledge), making it easier to find answers, solve problems, and drive better business outcomes.

Here’s why:

  • Centralisation: With employees scattered across multiple locations, having a centralised repository is invaluable. EXPs facilitate this, ensuring that knowledge isn't siloed but shared and accessible.
  • Collaboration: The real magic happens when people come together. EXPs foster workplace collaboration by offering integrated tools that allow teams to co-create, share insights, and brainstorm, irrespective of geographical divides.
  • Consistency: Keeping everyone on the same page (literally and figuratively) is a monumental task. EXPs can help maintain consistency in communication, documentation, and protocols.

5 Common Knowledge Management Issues EXPs Can Solve

Knowledge management can be challenging, especially when dealing with organisations that span multiple geographies.

We’ll spotlight five pressing challenges for knowledge management and explain how EXPs provide actionable solutions.

Knowledge Siloing

Knowledge siloing, one of the main challenges for knowledge management, isn’t just an inadvertent by-product of organisational growth.

It stems from multiple factors: departmental hierarchies, the lack of a unified communication platform, or even company culture that doesn’t foster cross-departmental sharing.

These silos hinder the flow of information, leading to inefficiencies, repeated work, and missed opportunities for innovation.

According to Panopto's Workplace Knowledge and Productivity report, companies with 100 employees might be facing annual costs of $524,569 due to the lack of effective knowledge sharing.

How an Employee Experience Platform can help

EXPs, with their integrated nature, act as the antidote to silos. Here’s how:

  • Unified Repository: An EXP offers a centralised space where information from different departments can be stored and accessed. This means that insights from one team are available for the benefit of all, breaking down informational barriers.
  • Cross-functional Collaboration Tools: Modern EXPs come with collaboration features like shared workspaces, social Q&A, and project management tools. These promote interdisciplinary teamwork so that knowledge isn’t just stored but actively exchanged.
  • Search and Discoverability: Advanced search functions can pull information from various departments based on keywords, topics, or even user queries, making the knowledge hunt seamless. It can also pull in data from various systems such as SharePoint document manager.
  • Access Control: While promoting sharing, EXPs also allow for granular access controls. This allows for sensitive information to remain protected, but still accessible to those who need it.

Outdated Information

In the fast-paced world of business, knowledge management problems often arise from information that becomes obsolete before it's even fully consumed.

When knowledge isn’t periodically refreshed, organisations risk operating based on obsolete data. This problem is compounded when there’s no system in place to identify and update stale information.

Gartner discovered that the detrimental effects of poor data quality could impact an organisation’s bottom line by as much as 20%.

How an Employee Experience Platform can help

An EXP isn't just a passive storage space but a dynamic environment that actively manages content relevancy. Here’s how if can help you manage key issues in knowledge management:

  • Automated Content Review Cycles: Many advanced EXPs have features that alert content owners to review and update their information at regular intervals. This makes it easy to keep content up-to-date.
  • Version Control: Instead of multiple versions of a document floating around, EXPs maintain version histories. This ensures that everyone always accesses the most recent and approved version of any document.
  • Feedback Loops: User feedback tools allow employees to flag outdated information or suggest updates. This crowdsourced approach turns content accuracy into a collective responsibility.
  • Analytics and Reporting: Advanced analytics can highlight rarely accessed or outdated content, giving administrators a heads-up on potential areas of concern.

Lack of Employee Engagement

Engagement is pivotal to any successful knowledge management strategy. Yet, many organisations find it challenging to involve employees actively. The root causes vary: sometimes, it's the perception that knowledge sharing isn't directly beneficial to individual roles, or it might be the sheer complexity and non-intuitiveness of the system in place.

Gallup indicated that teams with high engagement result in 21% greater profitability. Ensuring they have quick access to required information plays a pivotal role in engagement.

How an Employee Experience Platform can help

An EXP isn’t just a technological solution; it's tailored to enhance user experience, promoting active engagement. Here’s how:

  • Personalised Dashboards: Modern EXPs allow users to tailor their dashboards according to their roles and preferences so they are always presented with relevant and engaging content.
  • Gamification: By incorporating elements like points, badges, or leaderboards, EXPs can make knowledge sharing and access more rewarding and engaging.
  • Community Spaces: Online spaces and comment sections foster a sense of community, encouraging employees to share insights, ask questions, and collaborate on solutions.
  • Training Modules: Integrated e-learning tools can provide on-demand training, encouraging employees to feel competent and confident in navigating and contributing to the platform.
  • Feedback Channels: By allowing employees to voice their suggestions or concerns about the platform, continuous improvement is on actual user experience.

Lack of Leadership Support

Key challenges in knowledge management often stem from a lack of top-down support. Without leadership buy-in, initiatives can lack direction and momentum. Leaders play a crucial role in championing knowledge management initiatives.

The absence of their endorsement can stem from various reasons, including the perceived lack of tangible ROI or the inability to see the strategic alignment of such initiatives.

How an Employee Experience Platform can help

EXPs, when utilised optimally, don’t just serve operational needs; they cater to strategic visions. Here’s how you can overcome knowledge management challenges and solutions and ensure you receive leadership support:

  • Data-driven Insights: EXPs come equipped with analytics tools that provide leaders with valuable data on usage patterns, engagement rates, and content relevancy. Such metrics can showcase the tangible benefits of the platform.
  • Strategic Alignment Tools: By mapping knowledge management initiatives to broader organisational goals within the EXP, leaders can see the direct correlation between active knowledge management and strategic success.
  • Communication Channels: Integrated communication tools allow leadership to communicate their vision, goals, and updates so that the entire organisation is aligned and informed.
  • Risk Management: EXPs can highlight potential knowledge gaps or outdated information, helping leadership to proactively manage risks associated with misinformation.
  • Integration Capabilities: The ability to integrate the EXP with other enterprise tools, such as  Microsoft 365 and a learning management system, showcases the platform's versatility and its potential to be a central hub for all organisational needs.

Technical Issues

Technical barriers to knowledge management can be multifaceted – from software incompatibilities and server downtimes to a lack of intuitive interfaces and poor mobile optimisation, these challenges can considerably impede knowledge access and sharing.

Often, these issues arise due to rapid technological advancements outpacing the infrastructure or due to a lack of consistent investment in platform maintenance and upgrades.

A study by PwC highlighted that grappling with inefficient technology can dip productivity levels by up to 20%.

How an Employee Experience Platform can help

Designed with modern challenges in mind, EXPs provide comprehensive solutions that address technical factors affecting knowledge management at their root. Here's how:

  • User-centric Design: Modern EXPs place the user at the centre of their design philosophy. With intuitive interfaces, easy navigation, and clear instructions, they lead to a low learning curve and a positive user experience.
  • Mobile Optimisation: Recognising the importance of on-the-go access, most EXPs are now mobile-responsive or come with dedicated mobile applications for seamless access, irrespective of the device in use.
  • Scalability: As organisations grow, their technical needs evolve. EXPs are built for scalability and can handle increased data, users, and integrations without compromising on performance.
  • Regular Updates and Patches: With a focus on continuous improvement, EXP providers frequently roll out updates that not only enhance features but also address any emerging technical vulnerabilities.
  • Seamless Integrations: Understanding the interconnected nature of enterprise tools, EXPs are designed to integrate smoothly with other platforms, be it CRMs, ERPs, or communication tools. This ensures a unified ecosystem where data flow isn't hampered by technical incompatibilities.
  • Cloud-based Solutions: Many EXPs are now cloud-based and have high uptime, robust data backup, and relief from the hassle of manual server maintenance.
  • Dedicated Support: Recognising that issues can arise, many EXP providers offer dedicated support, be it through chatbots, helplines, or online portals. This guarantees that any technical challenge is addressed promptly.

Conclusion

Understanding the nuances of challenges like employee engagement and leadership support underscores the key role of EXPs, particularly the modern intranet.

Intranets are not only effective solutions for knowledge management but contain a host of features from social tools and employee directories, to document management, forms and workflows and personalised company news.

Remember, technology in itself isn’t the solution; it's how we leverage it that makes the difference.

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