How can one identify a company with a knowledge management problem?

Originally answered Sep 29, 2017

All companies have knowledge management problems. Here are some examples of typical challenges:

  1. Bad decisions: Poor decisions are made, it takes too long to make decisions, or it is impossible to make decisions. The impact is lost business, missed opportunities, and reduced profits.
  2. Poor search capability: It’s hard to find relevant information and resources when needed. As a result, people waste time searching, and can’t take advantage of information which exists but can’t be located.
  3. Reinventing the wheel: Employees have to start from scratch each time they start a new project. This leads to wasted effort, increased costs, delays, and suboptimal results.
  4. Repetitive mistakes: The same mistakes are repeated over and over. This causes cost overruns, losses, and unhappy customers.
  5. Don’t know what we know: It’s difficult to find out if anyone in the organization knows something, has done something, or has solved a similar problem before. Any potential advantages from reusing previous experience are squandered.
  6. Ignorance: Information is communicated slowly, to a limited subset of the organization, or not at all. The result is that people are unaware of what has been done before, what is happening elsewhere, and where the organization is heading. This is not good for morale, customer satisfaction, and business results.
  7. Inadequate standards: There is a shortage of standard processes, procedures, methods, tools, templates, techniques, and examples. This results in inconsistency, sloppy work, and poor quality products and services.
  8. Expertise shortages: Experts are hard to find, in great demand, and unavailable when needed. The effect is that scare expertise is missed rather than leveraged, and knowledge which could have been applied to solve a problem or exploit an opportunity is not.
  9. Poor reference capability: The organization is unable to respond to customers who ask for proof that you know how to help them and that you have done similar work before. This causes bids to be lost that could have been won.
  10. Long cycle times: It takes too long to invent, design, manufacture, sell, and deliver products and services to your customers. The impact is missed markets, delayed revenues, and customers lost to competitors.