Untying the Purse Strings: 3 Ways of Communicating Value

Employees furloughed. Budgets cut. Projects prioritized. Is this the time to propose a knowledge management (KM) project costing well into the tens of thousand dollars?

Absolutely. Why not?

Effective and efficient knowledge management brings value to the entire organization. Communicating that value can lead to the support and funding needed to move forward. Framing your proposal around the following points may help untie the purse strings in support of your project.

1. Identify the decision makers and speak to their concerns.

Know the decision makers. Understand their concerns and priorities. While the information center or KM team may be your primary concern, it may be only one of many concerns for the chief executive officer, chief financial officer, or other key executives. Generally they’re preoccupied with the competition, budget cuts, regulatory agencies, stockholder value, and a myriad of other issues. To get the attention of the decision-makers in your organization, speak to their concerns.

Find out what keeps them awake at night and point out how your project addresses those concerns.

2. Understand organizational goals and incorporate them.

Help decision makers see how the larger organization will benefit from your project. Will it ultimately lead to a reduction in spending, more informed spending, or higher productivity? Say so. Don’t emphasize the benefit to the information center or knowledge management team. That’s a narrow focus that’s not likely to win over hearts or minds (or budgets). What will happen differently after the project as a result of the project?

Examples from actual experience – The project may:

  • address a regulatory agency mandate
  • provide better monitoring of the competition
  • reduce costs of information silos
  • relieve information overload among knowledge workers
  • prioritize spending on information resources

Demonstrate how your KM project will move the organization closer to its goals.

3. Pick up the lingo and use it.

Every specialty has its jargon, including KM and the library biz. Avoid it. Use terms and vocabulary that will resonate with your decision makers. They may not get the phrase information audit, but they are very likely to understand resources study or needs assessment or library services analysis. Test your terminology to see how well it is understood. Use words that resonate with decision makers.

Don’t make them guess what you mean, or worse yet, misunderstand.

Keep these three points in mind to communicate the value of your KM project. It’s a proven, common sense strategy that could make all the difference.