7 Steps to Successful Knowledge Management

With a portion of the workforce transitioning into retirement, your agency may be encountering a familiar challenge: how do you to transfer knowledge across the entering workforce? How do you make knowledge accessible to a new team member?

This question deals with the concept of knowledge management. Managing a successful handoff of information with a new hire isn’t easy. Whether you’re handling day-to-day responsibilities or improving resources for training new employees, finding ways to connect new information with existing information is a top priority.

Management Analyst in the Strategic Initiatives Group at NIH, Kelley Timpa spoke about best knowledge management practices. Timpa is the project lead on the HHS Venture’s Fund Project, also known as “The Federal HR Wiki,” which crowd-sources federal HR knowledge across agencies. From her project’s success, Timpa listed the steps to tackling knowledge management.

  1. Define the problem. This is the question of how to successfully transfer projects from subject-matter experts with institutional knowledge to new employees. Figure out what specific issue you need to address and how it’s affecting your agency’s productivity and performance.
  2. Brainstorm solutions. With the Wiki Project, Timpa discussed how they were able to get together a large team and discuss solutions through quick five minute brainstorm sessions. The more ideas, the better. Bring people in from across agency departments so that you can get a larger pool of ideas. Figure out shared concerns and combine possible solutions. “The key is finding a flexible product that would meet everyone’s needs,” Timpa said. In order to do this, you need multiple perspectives on the issue.
  3. Conduct research. Figure out what works and what doesn’t. Create a benchmark and look at existing models. Timpa and her team looked at existing Wikipedia pages and which ones were currently being managed.
  4. Build a pilot. For the project, Timpa and her team created a Wiki model for a team of six people. “By showing that you can build a model of your plan, you can prove that it can be feasibly re-created at a larger scale,” Timpa said.
  5. Demonstrate value. Timpa found that the project helped them manage knowledge better and they could train employees much faster. Consider the improvements your new plan has created. Create a checklist and ask yourself if the solution meets all the requirements. Does the quality, speed and efficiency of training employees increase? What about the cost?
  6. Get senior leader support. While the rest of your team may be onboard, getting support from your supervisors and other managers will help you gain more resources, from funding to more widespread attention across your agency.
  7. Develop a Change Management Plan.

Implementation may not be easy, but it is worth it. It helps clarify the mission of the agencies that people work hard for. “The path to success is not a straightforward one. We have to meet people where they’re at.” Timpa said.

This blog post is a recap of a session that took place at the recent Next Generation of Government Summit. Want to see more great insights that came out of NextGen? Head here.

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