"Knowledge Management" is a pretty big buzz word in business today. Between exponentially advancing technology and high turnover rates, it’s no wonder that more companies are worried about capitalizing and protecting the knowledge of their employees. Some companies have even gone so far as to name CKO’s within their organizations. While data and information can easily be filed away in databases, retaining some level of employee knowledge can be a far more difficult task.

The two most effective techniques for converting individual employee knowledge into a retainable, transferable form are mentoring and process management. While both approaches may seem obvious, the degree to which a company culture fosters mentorship and the extent to which a company understands and records its processes are key determinants of that company’s ability to capitalize knowledge over time.

When the hierarchical structure of an organization is completely stratified, there will be enormous knowledge gaps between high-ranking executives, middle-managers, and lower level employees. As these higher ranking employees retire or leave the organization, their successors will, in many ways, be starting from scratch. The more egalitarian and flat the structure of an organization is, the easier it is for knowledgeable employees to mentor the newer or less knowledgeable employees.

While mentoring is more of a soft, cultural strategy, understanding and recording business processes is a much more tangible method for retaining knowledge and decreasing costs associated with employee turnover. The problem within many organizations is that internal processes are not clearly mapped out and documented. It should not be acceptable for any one employee or even department to control the knowledge of a given process. In these situations a small group of employees “become” the process over time. When these small groups of people that understand the process leave, the efficiency of that process leaves with them. Each process should be documented and filed to preserve and protect the functionality of the process as employees come and go.

More than this, business process management allows companies to clearly understand current processes and continuously improve upon them. If you’re interested in documenting any of your processes, Biz AGI provides easy-to-use free downloadable business process mapping software.
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