What is Knowledge Management?

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What is Knowledge Management?

Knowledge management (KM) is the process of creating, sharing, using, and managing the knowledge and information of an organization. It refers to a multidisciplinary approach to achieving organizational objectives using the best knowledge.
KM efforts typically focus on organizational objectives such as improved performance, competitive advantage, innovation, the sharing of lessons learned, integration, and continuous improvement of the organization.

What are the different types of Knowledge Management?

There are four main types of knowledge management:

  • Explicit knowledge: This is documented knowledge that can be easily shared, such as policies, procedures, and best practices.
  • Implicit knowledge: This is not documented knowledge and is often held by individual employees, such as know-how, experience, and intuition.
  • Collective knowledge: This is the shared knowledge of a group of people, such as the knowledge created when teams work together on projects.
  • Personal knowledge: This is the unique knowledge of an individual employee, such as their skills, experience, and contacts.

Knowledge management process

The Knowledge Management process typically involves several steps, from knowledge audit and capture to organization and assessment, followed by sharing, applying, and creating new knowledge.
These steps ensure that knowledge is accurately gathered, organized into a structured and accessible form, shared effectively, and applied to improve company performance, with a continuous cycle of creating more knowledge.
The knowledge management process typically involves the following steps:
Identify knowledge needs: What knowledge does your organization need to capture, store, and share?

  • Capture knowledge: How will you capture the knowledge that your organization needs?
  • Store knowledge: Where will you store the knowledge you capture?
  • Share knowledge: How will you share the knowledge you capture with those needing it?
  • Use knowledge: How will you encourage employees to use the knowledge that you capture?
    This process works within a cycle that rotates through evaluating the use of knowledge, determining requirements, reviewing existing knowledge, capturing knowledge, organizing knowledge, sharing knowledge, and using knowledge.

What Does Knowledge Management Consist Of?

Knowledge management consists of a few key elements required for a successful program:

  • People – A knowledge-focused culture that encourages the creation and sharing of knowledge. This is enabled by knowledge managers, experts, knowledge analysts, and knowledge workers.
  • Processes – The systematic processes used to develop, capture, share, apply, and renew knowledge. Examples include knowledge audits, knowledge mapping, expertise location, knowledge acquisition, knowledge sharing, and knowledge learning.
  • Technology – The systems and tools used to facilitate knowledge management activities. These include search engines, collaboration platforms, knowledge bases, and expert systems.
  • Governance – The guidelines, policies, standards, and decision rights align KM processes with organizational goals. This provides oversight and direction for KM programs.
  • Infrastructure – The organizational structures, roles, teams, and physical workspaces that support knowledge management work. Examples include dedicated KM departments, knowledge managers, and physical knowledge hubs.
  • Mechanisms – The techniques to promote knowledge sharing are mentoring, training, social networks, storytelling, and more.
  • Content – The knowledge assets at the core of knowledge management include documents, guides, articles, videos, transcripts, PDFs, web pages, spreadsheets, images, audio files, patents, and more.

Importance of Knowledge Management

The primary benefit of KM is to increase company efficiency and improve business decision-making by empowering employees with knowledge, leading to more informed, faster, and profitable decisions. Secondary benefits include enhanced collaboration, protection of intellectual capital, and capturing knowledge for future workforce
Many benefits come with implementing a knowledge management program:

  • Improved innovation by encouraging knowledge sharing that sparks new ideas.
  • Reduced time to market for products and services by avoiding knowledge gaps that can slow work.
  • Lower costs by eliminating redundant efforts and recreating existing knowledge.
  • Decreased dependencies on knowledge experts by capturing expertise before experts leave.
  • Better decision-making due to access to relevant knowledge and expertise.
  • Improved service and support through access to centralized knowledge.
  • Increased employee satisfaction by recognizing the value of knowledge and providing learning opportunities.
  • Maintained or improved organizational performance during times of turnover by retaining accumulated knowledge.
  • Quicker onboarding and training by having documentation readily available.
  • Staying competitive within your industry by continually building knowledge capital.

Examples of Knowledge Management

Examples of KM in practice include tutoring & training sessions, communities of practice, Q&A sessions, customer self-service portals, chatbots, and intranets. These methods facilitate direct knowledge transfer, build a community around services, and provide secure, organized access to information.
Here are some examples of knowledge management in practice:

  • Knowledge repositories – Databases, document management systems, and file shares that serve as repositories of expertise, data, documents, guides, and more for search and retrieval.
  • Expertise location – Mapping out where expertise lies within the organization to enable efficient location and use of expertise for different needs.
  • Knowledge maps – The visualization of knowledge to reveal insights into flows, gaps, and bottlenecks.
  • Storytelling – Using narrative structures and storytelling techniques to transfer tacit knowledge through meaningful stories.
  • After action reviews – Retrospective processes for reflecting on projects and capturing lessons learned.
  • Knowledge audits – Surveys, interviews, and workshops to identify knowledge health and requirements.
  • Knowledge bases – Searchable databases of questions and answers for providing centralized access to expert knowledge.
  • Knowledge retention – Proactively capturing critical knowledge at risk when experts leave the organization.
  • Mentoring programs – Pairing junior and senior employees for knowledge sharing.
  • Learning programs – Formal training programs focused on transferring knowledge and improving innovation.


Knowledge management is the systematic process organizations use to find, create, distribute, and enable the adoption of insights and experiences. A practical knowledge management program can improve innovation, decision-making, customer responsiveness, and more.
Swirl paves the way for more streamlined and effective knowledge management practices. Swirl’s ability to connect diverse repositories and leverage AI simplifies the process of finding and utilizing crucial organizational knowledge, empowering employees to make better decisions and boosting overall productivity.