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A guide to choosing the right knowledge management system for your organization

The right knowledge management system makes information pervasive in an organization. Here’s the ultimate buyer’s guide to ease decision-making for you.
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We live and work in the age of the knowledge economy. Today, information is the most powerful ingredient we need in order to produce the envisioned results. 

With so much to tap into, it is becoming increasingly challenging to find ways to manage this information overload. 

Imagine working in a customer support team yet finding it hard to answer technical questions. Only because the information you need is not at your fingertips. Or when you are in the middle of a meeting and are wasting time scurrying for the right link. In such crucial moments, a system in place that gets you what you want right when you need it is a necessity, not an option. 

Thankfully, there are knowledge management systems out there that can make finding information super easy for everyone in an organization. They improve customer interactions, cold reach outs, and development processes, thus supercharging the productivity of all the teams.

What is a knowledge management system?

It is a tool that helps teams in an organization structure, organize, manage, share, and discover knowledge at the workplace. 

In any organization, such a system can help transform raw, scattered information into useful assets. A good knowledge management software brings your teams together to create a culture of collaboration by collating knowledge on a single platform. 

Recommended reading: A complete guide to knowledge management 

According to this McKinsey report, employees spend 1.8 hours every day — ~9 hours every week — searching for information at their workplace. That means 1 in every 5 employees hired spends their time looking for things instead of spending their hours on work that matters. 

If this sounds like your workplace, or you end up spending 20 mins to 2 hours every day looking for links, this article would help you uncover the limitations of the existing knowledge management software and serve as a guide when you finally choose one for your workplace.

Selecting the right knowledge management system for your organization

Here are key features to look for in your knowledge management software system (think of this as a condensed Knowledge Management Buyer's Guide) to maximize your odds of success. 

1. Fast access to information

The whole point of a good knowledge management system is to eliminate the hoops employees go through and the challenges they face to get the right information in their hands. 

A system that smoothens this process and provides instant access to information is what you need. Information should be retrievable regardless of which application it might be in. 

The time taken from opening the tool and typing in your search query to getting the result in front of you should not take more than a couple of seconds if done correctly. 

Make sure your knowledge management software system makes the discovery of information an absolute (breezy) delight. 

2. Accurate search results

Of course, no one wants to use a product that does not serve its intended purpose. The knowledge management system must give you accurate information every time a search query is executed. 

Ask yourself whether the system can understand commonly used phrases, contextual keywords, and the subtle differences between search queries executed by different teams in the organization. 

3. Designed for the modern workplace

The way we work has undergone a massive transformation. Work no longer happens in files, folders, or a single application for that matter. It happens across a diverse range of applications in URLs. 

An archaic knowledge management system will only execute searches within its repository of documents and resources. But the tool you use must be able to go through all the resources within your company, which means webpages, different URLs, or a medley of files. 

To that end, it is preferable to go for a knowledge management solution that combines a link management solution or an enterprise search solution rather than the more old-school software such as Confluence or Notion. 

4. Available everywhere

While most knowledge management systems claim to work where you do, it is generally not as straightforward. 

As you avoid jumping through hoops to find what you need, logging into a knowledge management system might leave you frustrated. 

It is important that the solution works exactly where you and your team do. Whether it is on the browser, cloud, or your system. What would be great is a couple of hotkeys that invoke a Spotlight-like launcher in milliseconds. 

5. Intuitive & simple to use

It would be counterintuitive for a knowledge management system to have a steep learning curve. 

The entire idea hinges on the premise of making it easy for everyone in the organization to retrieve information instantly. The steep learning curve that comes with a tool that is not easy to use will only increase the barriers to entry for the not-so-tech-savvy folks in the company. 

An ideal system combines its speed and accuracy with a great UI that meets the users where they are. 

6. Intelligent

The next gen of knowledge management systems should be able to guide the users and uncover deeper insights that can help them in their everyday work. 

With artificial intelligence, it is possible for knowledge management systems to elevate guidance and make results hyper-personalized. This can be done by catering to each user’s preferences, role, department, and stage of project development. 

Such AI-infused insights can handhold users through their work, and interactions, thus saving them time simultaneously while making them better at their job with the use of automation.

Your knowledge management solution should also be able to produce analytics that indicates the most searched or frequented pages to give light to the bigger picture of what’s happening in the company. 

7. Easy to update

Any good knowledge management system makes it super easy for the team to keep it up to date. You should be able to add a resource or migrate from an existing knowledge base without needing to approach a dedicated IT team for this purpose. This level of employee autonomy does wonders for the team in keeping information relevant throughout the organization. 

Additionally, your system should enable you to update new content quickly and seamlessly search for terms without help.

A good solution will also make sure that redundant, obsolete, and duplicate resources take a backseat. In that regard, a gentle nudge to the creator or the admin of the workspace to delete old files would go a long way. 

Recommended reading: Types of knowledge management systems

OSlash — your go-to solution for enterprise knowledge management

OSlash, a cross between a link management solution, enterprise search solution, and knowledge management platform, lets you build a company wiki for everyone — instantly and intuitively.

With OSlash, you can create simple and easy-to-recall shortcuts to all your links such as o/roadmap or o/onboarding. By letting you name your everyday links using everyday words, OSlash lets you find, navigate, and share workplace information at lightning speed. A comprehensive dashboard where you can go through all the important resources at one glance is an added benefit. 

By simplifying URLs, OSlash simplifies finding information at your fingertips — for you, your team, your department, and your entire organization. And saves you all that productive time wasted on looking for the right resources.

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