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The 8 key features of a good knowledge management system

Knowledge Management

The 8 key features of a good knowledge management system

Jonathan Davies


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Mon, Mar 13, '23  

Gareth Morgan was right: organizations are machines – they’re also cultural systems, they’re brains, they’re organisms; and like every organism, they contain knowledge.

In fact, they contain tons of it. 

When organizations grow, knowledge follows and as that happens, challenges arise. How do you organize the knowledge that everyone uses? How do you make it accessible to everyone? 

Sit down and make yourself comfortable. We’re gonna talk about knowledge management today. 

What is a knowledge management system?

Before we pick apart the aspects of a knowledge management system, let’s first define its purpose. A knowledge management system is any digital system that stores, organizes, and derives information. It’s used to centralize content, help collaboration and ensure that processes run smoothly within the organization

But what are the key features of a knowledge management system? We gathered the most important ones here, sans the fluff:

  • User-friendliness

  • Search functionality

  • Reporting and built-in analytics

  • Customization

  • Mobile app

  • Collaboration features

  • Integration with third-party tools

  • Feedback system

We’re going to pick each of these apart in this blog post, so keep on reading.  

  1. User-friendliness

    Starting with the obvious – if it doesn’t serve your people, it’s not serving its purpose. Many organizations struggle with introducing new tech to their employees. That’s why your new knowledge management software has to be inviting and lure your people in.

    User-friendliness is a key attribute to a knowledge management system. If the new solution isn’t easy to use, they won’t bother giving it the benefit of the doubt, and your investment in a knowledge management solution will quickly become a waste of time and money. 

    Word to the wise: nothing pushes users away like software that’s difficult to use, so make that a prio. 

  2. A search functionality

    Nobody wants to waste time thinking “Umm, it was supposed to be here” – you know how annoying it is to look for something you urgently need and not be able to find it. Poor search functionality automatically decreases usability, making information hard to find and threatening the adoption rates of the software. 

    A search function that searches universally throughout the platform, but also through files and email digest, makes your people more productive by saving them time and allowing them to focus on actual work rather than searching for what is needed to get the job done. 

  3. Reporting and built-in analytics

    We’ve already talked about measurement, and how important it is to measure what matters (to your organization, anyway). In the context of a good knowledge management system, what matters is to understand how and what people are searching for. This gives you insights on usability, most preferred content, and any other metric that matters to your organization.

  4. Customization 

    A customizable knowledge management system can be a raw diamond – very potent, but not perfectly shaped (yet). A full branding add-on allows you to create your knowledge management system in your organization’s own image and likeness – from your logo, brand colors and email digest, all the way to custom widgets. 

    Tailoring your software to your business needs makes it more likely to get adopted faster and not make your people feel like they need to deal with an alien. 

  5. Mobile app

    It’s not only information that shouldn’t be siloed, your people shouldn’t be either. A mobile app feature makes your knowledge management system accessible to everyone in the organization, including those who aren’t tied to a desk. It’s essential to keep on-site employees on board with the bigger picture and make them feel connected to the organization. 

    A mobile app feature can be the hidden trick up your sleeve when it comes to driving adoption. Making your knowledge management software easily accessible engages employees with using it more often and keeps everyone in the loop. 

  6. Collaboration features

    If you’ve read our blog, or at least scanned through our website, you know we’re all about collaboration. It’s what turns knowledge into a concrete business output. 

    If you’re +1 on that, or at least your organization values it, it should be reflected in everything, including your digital tools. The purpose of a knowledge management system is to store and organize information, but going a step further and allowing for collaboration isn’t a luxury, it’s a necessity. Here’s why: 

    When apps and tools are interconnected:

  • Information doesn’t become siloed

  • Shadow tooling is avoided

    The latter happens when people go rogue and start using apps of their own choice. This makes your reporting incomplete, leading to metrics that don’t represent reality. 

    7. Integration with third-party tools

    Third-party tools go hand-in-hand with knowledge management. When purchasing a knowledge management system, you want to make sure it integrates with the apps your organization already uses. Not taking this feature into account can cause you some headaches later on, create obstacles for your people, hinder productivity, and surely won’t give you a star for efficiency and good decision-making. 

    8. Feedback system

    Sharing is caring – and in this case, it benefits both the organization and its people. It’s the ultimate way to find out what employees really think, a place where people can share ideas and collaborate to improve your business. Without feedback, knowledge becomes a top-down instituted mandate rather than a living, breathing, evolving thing. You need input from the bottom-up to keep all that knowledge up-to-date, and that's the purpose of feedback. Plus, it gives them a voice and makes them feel valued, which contributes to other business aspects, like engagement and satisfaction rates. The wonders a piece of software can do, huh?