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We use a content management system for our internal documentation. Is that the same as knowledge management?

Question:

We use a content management system for our internal documentation. Is that the same as knowledge management?

Answer:

Although similar in some respects, content management and knowledge management (KM) systems are different. Content management is used to create and organize enterprise information. Knowledge management is intended to facilitate the creation, organization, and use of an enterprise’s information. Content management software solutions are designed to be a massive repository for creating and maintaining digital content. Knowledge management is a process of authoring, collecting, organizing, presenting, maintaining and storing information in a manner that is readily accessible and easily consumed by all constituents (internal-facing for employees, and external-facing for customers or prospects). The objective of a KM solution is to create a single source for all enterprise knowledge so there is a “single version of the truth.” Once data is captured, it can be rendered in the form most appropriate for the needs of each audience and channel.

KM solutions can include information from internal sources (databases, documents, manuals, training programs, policies, procedures, employees, etc.) and from external sources (the web, customers, etc.). These solutions may also include industry-specific regulations or compliance requirements. As importantly, in addition to explicit information, a knowledge management solution can be used to capture and preserve tacit or “tribal” knowledge (best practices, lessons learned, post-mortems, etc.), from internal employees and external customers.

Content management systems and KM solutions are similar in that they are effective only if the data is correct; if it’s wrong, it doesn’t matter how well-organized the data is or how fast and easy it is to deliver. Moreover, for a KM solution to work, a company needs to create an operating environment where all employees support the concept and practice of KM. It’s more than building a culture of KM – an organization must institute a framework supported by an internal infrastructure that facilitates the processes.