Ready, Aim, Fire: When a knowledge audit could be your first step

No Brainer - Your team has recognized the need for more strategic implementation of knowledge management practices within your organization.  Time for a knowledge audit.

Less Obvious – You’ve been tasked planning for more promotion of library and research services.  Time for a knowledge audit.

Recently, on the discussion lists where information professionals share ideas and best practices, two very different challenges were raised.  In each case, a part of the answer involves doing a bit of internal research to craft a good action plan.

The No Brainer situation had a solo (working on her own) librarian seeking best practices for knowledge management in a small organization.  Her statement to the list included the pharse, “I’ve been working on a project plan to better address knowledge management in our organization.”

For this savvy info pro, the initiative would begin with a knowledge audit, with a goal to understand what is actually going on, what the needs are, and where there are opportunities to deliver benefits and solutions.

A solid KM plan tackles real barriers and leads to valued products and services.

The Less Obvious situation arose when the manager of library and research services in a large organization inquired with colleagues about tactics for promoting library services and increasing awareness.  A successful marketing campaign depends on understanding potential customers including their pain points, needs, and gaps in resources or services.

An audit is a good way to collect this information.  In the course of conducting a study like this one the manager can come to better understand her customers and what they value. Because studies of this nature typically involve interviews and similar conversations, they offer the additional benefit of building relationships.

People appreciate being heard and having someone ask about their challenges.  The process of an audit in and of itself is a promotional strategy.  In talking to people you learn what they need, but they also learn more about you and what you do.

So, What is a Knowledge Audit?

The knowledge audit, and its cousins the information audit and the needs analysis, are types of studies.

The knowledge audit takes a comprehensive look at both tangible and intangible knowledge assets and their role in advancing the organization’s goals.

The information audit focuses on tangible objects (digital or hard copy), and how they are produced, acquired, stored, shared, and used,

The needs analysis is a process to identify the information and services workers require in order to do their jobs.

For more information on conducting a study of this kind, download a free copy of “Planning for Knowledge Management: Conducting a Knowledge Assessment“.