Technical, user, and program independence are all important to the success of a knowledge management initiative. In this second part of a three-part series, I’ll explain how to enable independence for users of knowledge management systems. There will be a companion free webinar on April 22, 2020 (subscription link at the foot of this post).
User independence means providing an excellent user experience and helpful self-paced training so that your KM tools can be used effectively without the need for the KM team or the IT department to provide frequent hand holding and support. If users can leverage KM systems without the need to frequently seek help, they will be supportive of the KM program and want it to continue. And they will be better able to deliver results that support organizational objectives, thus bolstering the business case for keeping the program sponsored and funded.
A Great User Experience
For all KM applications and systems, work with IT to deliver software that empowers users in the following ways:
- Be easy and intuitive to use. This cuts down on user frustration, wasted time, and calls for help.
- Offer flexibility in how it can be accessed and used, e.g., online, email, mobile app. Optimize the user experience for each channel to minimize complaints.
- Allow simple and complete integration with other applications, e.g., enterprise search, email, HR systems, etc. This makes it convenient for users and requires less training.
- Provide rich functionality that is clearly better than other alternatives and helps people to much more readily do their work. This saves time and improves job satisfaction.
- Deliver a consistent user interface and dependable functionality. This makes life easier for the users.
The elements of KM systems that offer a great user experience include:
- Designed for usability
- Responsive performance
- Predictable availability and reliability
- Easy to learn and use
- Deliver expected results
- Intuitive navigation, simple menus, and personalized interfaces
- Multiple access options, including index, knowledge map, and search
- Search offers autocomplete, best bets, content previews, and highly relevant results
For more, see:
- User Interface Engineering by Jared Spool
- Nielsen Norman Group by Jakob Nielsen
- User Experience Design by Peter Morville
UX Workshops and Enterprise Experience Conference by Lou Rosenfeld
To ensure that users can leverage KM tools effectively, offer training, including self-paced courses and recorded webinars. This will help users learn what is expected of them; the people, processes, and tools available to them; and how to use all of these in order to share, innovate, reuse, collaborate, and learn.
Training is a key part of an ongoing KM program. You can never successfully educate everyone in your target audience, so you need to continue to offer training in a variety of ways. Develop and offer training that can be taken at the user’s convenience.
Self-paced courses and recorded webinars are ways of delivering training that allow users to learn independently. Self-paced courses are automated, interactive presentations that can incorporate audio, video, animation, graphics, and testing. Webinars are virtual training courses conducted using online technology. They can be recorded for on-demand viewing.
Here is an example of a user training course.
- Title: Team Space Administration
- Content: How to create, configure, and manage a team space to use for collaboration
- Delivery Method: Self-paced course
- Schedule: Available on demand
- Duration: Expected time – 30 minutes
- Audience: Team space administrators
- Expected outcome: Those who complete the course should be able to request a new collaborative team space, configure it for the desired purpose, and serve as the ongoing team space administrator.
In the third part of this series, I will discuss achieving program independence.
KM expert, consultant and author, Stan Garfield will be presenting the next in a series of KM Conversations for Lucidea on Wednesday, April 22, 2020 at 11:00 am Pacific, 2:00 pm Eastern—subscribe here to be notified. Stan has compelling information to share, based on his distinguished career as a KM practitioner. Read his posts for our Think Clearly blog, and learn about Inmagic Presto, which has powered the KM initiatives of many organizations.
Virtual teams, including those focused on knowledge exchange, are widespread. There are many effective virtual channels for knowledge sharing.
Team spaces are collaborative workspaces designed for teams to share documents, libraries, schedules, files and other building blocks of knowledge.
An organizational intranet is a key part of a knowledge management program; knowledge managers should be sure to leverage the intranet for KM purposes.
Knowledge managers should incorporate the principles of good usability into the KM system user interface.