Knowledge management software tools

John F. Kennedy once declared that knowledge is power. That being the case, we can only imagine how much the fallen U.S. President would have relished the relatively modern concept of knowledge management (KM). While knowledge has long been valued and shared by humans – consider cave art – the past few decades has seen organizations embrace a formal approach to creating, capturing, storing and distributing information in a bid to benefit their employees and other stakeholders. By finding out the amount of knowledge their companies have and ensuring it is readily available to those who need it, business leaders are bolstering opportunities for success and growth.

M_BlogT_Knowledge management software tools

And so we come to knowledge management systems (KMS), the technology and tools that support organizations in their efforts to manage the knowledge within their walls – and, more so, within the minds of their people. Befitting an industry forecast to reach a global market value of $1.1 trillion by 2026, a host of innovative companies are investing heavily in the creation and delivery of KM tools to help employees and executives ensure clarity of ideas, share information and improve their decision-making.

Key benefits of knowledge management software tools include:

  • Improved performance and innovation
  • Communication of ‘lessons learned’
  • Integration and continuous improvement.

Choosing the right knowledge management software tool

The race to provide quality knowledge management products is heating up by the day, with content formats such as audio, video and conferencing being added to more traditional aspects such as text documents. As developers work to enhance and surpass their current offerings, the number of tools for knowledge management on the market continues to grow and, in turn, make it more difficult for businesses to determine the best product for their needs. When making that decision, consider the following factors:

  • Key utilities: the first step is to research whether an existing knowledge management software tool can meet your needs. If the answer is no, you should consider if a general tool can be customized to suit you or your organization’s needs.
  • Total cost of ownership: in the rush to guarantee the features needed for a seamless knowledge management experience, it is important not to ignore financial realities. Remember there is a greater cost to knowledge management software tools than initial acquisition, with additional expenses including implementation, training, maintenance, hosting and support.
  • Integration: many knowledge management tools need to tap into external applications to source data, which is why it is beneficial for such solutions to integrate with other platforms and save employees the frustrating and time-consuming need to continually switch from one to the other.
  • Collaboration: staff communication sits at the heart of knowledge management and that is why features such as messaging, chat rooms and recording online meetings are a must, in addition to simple administrative tasks such as scheduling meetings. If a tool does not allow your teams to communicate with ease, it may handicap the goal of ‘sharing’ information.

Types of knowledge management tools

  • Document Management Systems: akin to a digital filing cabinet, a Document Management System (DMS) is a tool used to store and manage digitally formatted documentation. It allows staff to locate and access any number of documents with ease but not at the risk of security given the often-sensitive nature of such material. Many organizations also look to utilize an Electronic Document Management System (EDMS), which tend to have enhanced features to assist with managing document workflows.
  • Example – Concord: a cloud-based DMS, Concord specializes in storing contractual documentation from creation to implementation. Features include the ability to create new contracts using templates, review them internally or with third parties both online and offline, and facilitate approval and signing. Concord’s focus on streamlining the often-unwieldy process of creating and documenting digital contracts ensures a more productive and efficient process.

Other examples include M-Files and eFileCabinet.

  • Customer Relationship Management Systems: an intimate knowledge of one’s customers is essential to business success and that is where Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems come into play. A godsend for marketing, sales and customer service teams, a quality CRM can allow them to track potential and active customers over the course of their consumer journey. When and how did they first connect with you? What have they engaged with on your website? What have they bought? What are their repeat purchases? Storing this customer data in a CRM tool provides entire teams with the means to better track, analyze and understand individuals as well as subsets of a customer base.
  • Example – HubSpot: boasting an intuitive user-interface and simple onboarding, HubSpot’s CRM centralizes a company’s customer data so team members can access up-to-date information including persona and behavioral profiles and engagement history. The software also allows staff to identify potential leads and customer segments based on known data, which can then lead to the creation of relevant content and offers. While users have highlighted HubSpot’s power integrations, others have indicated its customization is not as flexible as other products.

Other examples include Salesforce Sales Cloud and Pipedrive.

  • Learning Management Systems: if a company’s people are its greatest asset, the ability to provide them with quality training and education is a must. Learning Management Systems (LMS) are ideal for sharing online training modules and additional educational resources to help teams hit the ground running and continue to improve for years to come. They are also a great platform for addressing compliance issues and introducing new rules and regulations to employees as they arise.
  • Example – Travitor: employees increasingly want to access educational resources on their terms and that is exactly what Travitor allows. By providing companies with the tools and platform to create, develop and deliver training programs live or on-demand, staff are gifted greater flexibility to complete sessions. Full reporting and analytical breakdown functions also allow managers to better understand employee strengths and weaknesses and tailor future training sessions accordingly. Some reports suggest Travitor is not as robust as other options but it rates highly for navigation and customization.

Other examples include Docebo and Thought Industries.

  • Knowledge Bases: tools for knowledge management need not only be internal-facing. Online knowledge bases provide customers with searchable directories about a company’s products, access to frequently asked questions, troubleshooting information and other details all aimed at delivering a better user experience.
  • Example – Document360: backed by a powerful, AI-based, real-time search function, Document360 allows users to create a well-organized, self-service knowledge base. With customers keen to source what they want as quickly as possible, the AI search engine can retrieve relevant results in a fraction of milliseconds despite the huge volume of articles housed in the knowledge base. Document360 also features search analytics, allowing frequently searched keywords to not only appear but also show how certain ‘search keywords’ are used. The simple user interface makes it easy for businesses to manage and organize documents, while SEO features help their knowledge bases rank higher in search engines.

Other examples include Freshdesk and ProProfs Knowledge Base.

Time to take the next step …

As countless employees and customers will testify, knowledge management software tools have a vital role to play no matter how large or small an organization is. The key is to take the time to research the various types of tools, the specific products on the market and ultimately to create an entire knowledge management program.

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