How Knowledge Audits contribute to Knowledge Management Planning

Knowledge Audits

We were delighted to be part of the recent International Society for Knowledge Organisation (ISKO) UK Meet up.

Chaired by our very own Sharon Stewart, Consultant here at Metataxis, the session focussed on how a knowledge audit can contribute to knowledge management planning.

Knowledge audits provide an “at a glance” view of an organisation’s knowledge assets, resources, and practices. Their purpose is to improve an organisation’s effectiveness through a better understanding of the dynamics and levers of knowledge production, access, and use.

The output can offer valuable insights to inform the design of any change journey in knowledge management, then it can be used as a benchmarking tool to monitor the success of subsequent activity.

Enhancing innovation, increasing competitive advantage, or mitigating risks are all examples of knowledge related challenges or opportunities that might trigger the need for a knowledge audit.

The first part of the session was delivered by Patrick Lambe, Principal Consultant at Straits Knowledge, and the author of “Principles of Knowledge Auditing,” who revealed techniques how to introduce a systematic approach to knowledge auditing, followed by some key insights from Janine Weightman at Knovolution, who shared her practical experience gained from conducting knowledge audits through case studies.

This interactive session was a great opportunity for knowledge management practitioners to hear from experts and ask questions.

The benefits of knowledge auditing

Patrick discussed how knowledge management can be of benefit to organisations, what barriers and risks they should be aware of, and what steps they can take to get started. He suggested that there is still ambiguity around knowledge audits and in order to be successful, we need to improve the way we communicate across disciplinary boundaries with a consistent language and approach to meaningfully share and combine data. 

He went on to advocate the importance of having a clear sense of purpose for the audit before deciding what you need to learn about, in other words, what are you auditing? For example, knowledge stocks (tacit or explicit knowledge), knowledge flows (where knowledge is produced and consumed), knowledge needs and goals (strategy alignment), knowledge management enablers (organisational processes or resourcing), or knowledge management processes (knowledge capture). The outcome of that investigation will inform the methodology for your approach.

How to conduct a successful knowledge audit

Independent knowledge management consultant, Janine Weightman, went on to present two case studies, where she shared the tools and processes she uses, as well as some of the challenges and lessons learned in performing knowledge audits for organisations. She also revealed key recommendations how to conduct a successful knowledge audit based on her practical experiences.

Some of the key takeaways for practitioners from Janine’s session were:

  • Gain a clear understanding of the business goals and constraints to inform the design of tools and processes to be used in the audit;
  • Understand the tools at your disposal and match them appropriately to the capabilities of the people involved in the project;
  • Communicate with stakeholders in their language and be mindful that they may not relate to knowledge management terminology;
  • Facilitation is vital to ensure that the knowledge audit is converted into action.

What we learned

A knowledge audit is a compound and multidimensional activity.

There is no one right way to conduct a knowledge audit – there are many possible ways to approach them, depending on our goals and resources. The key to success is the use of language as well as follow up, with a clear action plan once the knowledge audit is complete to maximise value.

Find out more about ISKO and upcoming events here.