Building a knowledge repository by capturing, organizing, and cataloging information in a central place not only helps companies store and find information, but also ensures that knowledge is preserved. Indeed, many companies and vendors today employ this knowledge management model.
“While this traditional approach to knowledge management has its benefits, we have also seen its share of problems,” says John Way, president and CEO of Innovative Way—a leading workflow management solution provider. First, the traditional approach tends to produce information overload as each team within the organization starts capturing their knowledge. For example, each team may document their own travel reimbursement process, leading to multiple pages covering the same topic and causing confusion for other employees. Second, in the traditional approach, knowledge quality tends to degrade over time, because as teams re-organize and employees change roles, it leads to abandoned, out-of-date content. This problem worsens over time, forcing some companies to create a dedicated knowledge management team to continually organize and vet their knowledge repository. Finally, the third and biggest problem is knowledge is not organized by workflow or task in a traditional approach. Instead, content tends to be grouped and categorized by topic, for example, all travel reimbursement content is grouped together. So, if an employee needs help regarding instructions for his specific team, he will have to read through everything to find the relevant content specific to him—a time-consuming process. Finally, if the employee extracts this key nugget of information and puts it on his team’s intranet, he inadvertently magnifies the first problem, creating duplicate content.
This is why Innovative Way takes a different and unique approach to knowledge management. Way asserts, “Our experience has been that just-in-time knowledge embedded with tasks, as opposed to knowledge in the abstract, is much more effective. So instead of taking the traditional approach, our primary goal is to provide the right information to the right person at the right time.”
Delivering Knowledge Tailored for You
Innovative Way believes in a knowledge management approach that can deliver precise, trusted, and bite-sized knowledge and embed it in each task. As Way explains, “Imagine a salesperson needing help on classifying his travel reimbursement. He can go to the corporate intranet and probably find numerous articles on travel reimbursement classifications for every department. This employee can quickly get overwhelmed trying to figure out which article contains the instructions for his specific situation. Now, imagine a just-in-time approach where the sales department’s classification instructions are embedded with the task. The salesperson gets the help he needs right when he needs it, without needing to go elsewhere.” This is the value that Innovative Way brings to the table.
Though the concept of just-in-time knowledge is not entirely new, the use of this model in the knowledge management segment is still scarce. “Some of the clients we onboarded relied on mostly verbal knowledge-sharing,” says Way. Therefore, as a first step in the onboarding process, Innovative Way assesses their client’s level of knowledge maturity. In addition, Innovative Way assesses their client’s operational maturity. “Sometimes, we find that companies do not have any backup, cross-training, or business continuity processes in place. This means there is usually only one person who knows how to do a particular task, and usually that person has not written much down,” mentions Way. Establishing these baselines help company executives understand where the gaps are and enable Innovative Way to craft a roadmap towards a stronger and more stable business process model and custom-tailor a solution to help them reach that goal.
Making it Easy to Collaborate with Others
Innovative Way puts these knowledge management philosophies into practice through their flagship, cloud product, Pipeline.
We know knowledge management is a process, and so we leverage our expertise to help our customers mature their model over time
As Way notes, in today’s connected world, knowledge management and workflow collaboration need to work together, now more than ever.
“Very few companies produce everything in-house these days; instead, most organizational workflows go through a complex web of vendors and suppliers. So now, all the challenges of knowledge management for one company are magnified, because you are orchestrating multiple companies. Therefore, you need a solution where teams from multiple companies can collaborate and share knowledge together, without having to resort to email for everything,” he adds. These necessities led to the genesis of Pipeline, a comprehensive workflow management solution that aims to meet the challenges of collaborating across teams, departments, and even companies.
Pipeline works by coordinating and managing tasks and embedding all the necessary knowledge in each of those tasks. “Therefore, if a team member needs to learn how to perform a task, they do not need to search through an operations manual or an intranet; all the necessary information is embedded in the task,” remarks Way. Moreover, if the employee needs additional help, Pipeline also provides a virtual assistant—a chatbot—to help users find the right information with ease.
“In addition, we do not operate like other vendors, where they only help out during the initial setup, and after the deployment is complete, the customers are left to fend for themselves. We know knowledge management is a process, and so we leverage our expertise to help our customers mature their model over time,” mentions Way. As an example, Innovative Way conducts a review at the end of every quarter with their customers. “Our team documents all the queries that were posed to our live agents, and through our review process, we help our customers to improve the quality and accuracy of their knowledge base,” explains Way. So while most other knowledge repositories often degrade in quality over time, “our continuous content review and validation process with our customers ensures that quality improves and that is a key ingredient to our success,” he reflects.
Citing a customer success story, Way describes how they helped the sales team of a Fortune 500 company retool their knowledge management approach. “After we performed the initial maturity assessment, we found they had a highly-siloed organizational structure where information was created and duplicated across hundreds of SharePoints and other document repositories. Finding accurate, up-to-date information took over an hour because salespeople did not know which documents they could trust,” says Way. Innovative Way brought in their expertise and dramatically transformed the customer’s knowledge management processes and infrastructure. The revamped knowledge management system soon received praise from sales teams and executives. One year after launch, the system captured the company’s internal President’s Quality Award (PQA) for innovation, and two years after launch, the system won an Information Technology Services Marketing Association (ITSMA) award for innovation and excellence in the industry.
A Company that Breeds Innovation
Successes like these constantly propel Innovative Way forward and looking ahead, it intends to roll out additional sophisticated features for its already robust knowledge management solutions. The company aims to empower not just the internal employees of its clients, but also the clients’ vendors, partners, and other stakeholders that make up the broader team. “What makes us special is our ability to serve the needs of both internal employees and external partners,” remarks Way. With such uniqueness, Way and his team are poised to transform the knowledge management industry in the coming years.