With roughly 50% of all knowledge management initiatives failing, we’re often asked about our take on what organizations should do to ensure success. At the core of any enterprise productivity project is change management – the ability for an organization and its individuals to embark on significant behavioral changes – often cited as the most significant hurdle to adoption.

I want to share five ways you can maximize your knowledge management project’s chance for success.

Identify the Right Time

Timing is critical to success. More often than not, knowledge management projects are started when business processes start to break down. Symptoms of this break down include – employee onboarding is taking longer, Slack becomes a chatty place for shoulder-tapping, or links are shared in spreadsheets.

Planning out the implementation timing is critical. Therefore, project timing deserves special attention. The right time is to start thinking of knowledge management is as early as possible.

Stakeholder Buy-in – The Key to Success

Knowledge management projects fail when stakeholders fail to buy-in. To ensure success, organizations must find a path to a shared vision through stakeholder buy-in. Projects fail when organizations assume that buy-in happens automatically. First, understand who the stakeholders are and, at the same time, identify clear roles and responsibilities. Ask questions such as: “What are the needs of each stakeholder?” and “What are stakeholder concerns?”

Engage stakeholders on various levels and through different stages. To succeed, you must secure buy-in from top-level decision-makers with sign-off of budgetary approval, through to the end-users who will be adopting the final result. Keeping the stakeholders motivated potentially increases the likelihood of overall project implementation success. Focus on how the stakeholders benefit as a way to motivate them. Find ways to show organizational benefits to be gained from the knowledge management platform. For example, the sales department will benefit from time saved on searching and recreating information and improving sales efficiency. Stakeholder buy-in leads to greater levels of adoption and a higher likelihood of implementation success.

Work with IT from the beginning.

Without a doubt, your IT department plays a critical role in your knowledge management implementation. Your knowledge management system can’t achieve its full potential with buy-in from IT. If you fail to get your IT team on board, your transition to a knowledge management solution can be fraught with issues.

Your IT department can provide support for technical and security implementation. The implementation doesn’t end with deploying the knowledge management platform, and it isn’t complete unless you train users on the platform.

Implementing a knowledge management solution can help your organization be more productive, and foster continued growth. However, getting that software up and running and training your users takes time and internal resources, especially your IT department.

Create value quickly.

Your knowledge management will boost efficiency. Your team members gain access to organizational expertise, creating a smarter workforce. Empowering employees to make quick, informed decisions that benefit your organization.

Time to value is a critical element of a successful project. A knowledge management solution that offers the shortest time-to-value ensures that users get to the “Aha!” moment fast. The value gained from a knowledge management project begins after the “Aha!” moment — the moment when customers first realize the value of the knowledge management platform and are aching to come back.

Define KPIs

KPIs are useful for evaluating the value of a knowledge management platform. Leveraging KPIs, you can clearly define success and measure the effectiveness of your knowledge management platform. You can compare new results to old results to see how performance improved. The key here is to set measurable goals. Instead of reducing the backlog of help desk tickets, “reduce help desk tickets by 30% within 90-days.”

There is no single KPI that can represent the success of your knowledge management deployment. You need to identify and track multiple metrics to enable you to make timely adjustments. It is the collection of the right KPIs that represent the success of your knowledge management deployment.

Set goals and get baseline measurements of adoption metrics that best align with your organizational goals. Look at the same metrics again after you have implemented your new knowledge management platform to see what has changed.