Knowledge Management – what is it and what do we do with it?
Knowledge underlies everything that your business does from the processes that you use, to the way that you communicate with consultants and clients. How can you collect and store the knowledge that is gained by your team when they are on a consultancy job?
The challenge facing the consultancy firm which has a team comprising freelancers is to ensure that the knowledge that they gain about your client is captured and retained by you and not them. It is equally important to ensure that information gathered is shared with others. How do you currently ensure that you gather in the knowledge and where do you store it for future use? More than that, when you have multiple consultants within the same company, how do you set about sharing so that the quality of communication that you all have with the client is high and doesn’t lead to the client having to duplicate their effort? Intelligence that sits on a shelf is of very little value. Sharing is usually a social process: team meetings, CRM system, face to face or electronic discussions.
Allocating the responsibility to one person based at the HQ is likely to be the best way, in a small business, to share knowledge with remote consultants. When recruiting the team, it might be a worthwhile exercise to set the expectation that information must be shared (where appropriate) and the process of how it is to be shared.
What specifically do you want to capture? The priority surely is the knowledge that is about your client and which is crucial to the smooth and efficient running of a project. This might include contacts and their areas of responsibility, key findings from client meetings they have discovered, budget issues and changes, areas where the client is unhappy / happy, where to find info on the client’s intranet, issues that may slow the project down – you need to decide what is crucial for each of the projects that you have.
None of us likes the scenario where we feel that the left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing – your clients won’t like it either.