Making the Case for KM

We live in a knowledge-driven economy and society (Yelden, 2004). Knowledge—and the management of it—has a significant impact on an organization’s processes and outcomes.

Research indicates that the average company loses over 12% of its productivity annually from recreating explicit knowledge and data that it already possessed but could not find. Searching for the information alone accounts for a third of that time. And when people leave a project or position, knowledge loss approaches 90% (episTree, 2010). As shown in the figure to the right, this knowledge loss carries many negative consequences—much of which has to do with redoing what had already been completed in the past. For all of these reasons, knowledge management (KM) has become an important focus for organizations and programs that want to be successful.

Despite its importance, KM practitioners are often asked to justify investments in KM programs and initiatives. Therefore, it is important to secure buy-in from management early on and to collect data to support the need for KM activities. These data may come from a knowledge assessment or from monitoring and evaluating a pilot project. Linking your justification to existing internal KM activities can also strengthen management buy-in.