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Benefits of Knowledge Management Metrics

Knowledge management metrics otherwise known as measures or key performance indicators are simply a tool to assess the impact of a particular project or activity. Knowledge management metrics are often numeric in nature, for example, values in percentage. In addition, the Knowledge management metrics can also be qualitative, for example, improve staff satisfaction levels. In either case, the Knowledge management metrics provide clear and tangible goals for a project and criteria for project success. The use of Knowledge management metrics gains more importance considering the far-reaching impact of knowledge management system projects.

Some of the benefits of the Knowledge management metrics include setting targets for projects, assessing the success of projects, estimating the return of investment, and tracking of ongoing viability. The Knowledge management metrics allow more concrete design, planning, and implementation of projects, with clearly defined goals and scope for projects. You can assess the outcomes of a project at the end of implementation, as the Knowledge management metrics provide very specific success criteria for projects. In today's tight IT budgets, organizations expect that the projects deliver quantifiable benefits. This is often defined in terms of Return On Investment (ROI). The Knowledge management metrics enable easier estimation of the return of investment of projects. The Knowledge management metrics continue to provide value beyond initial implementation. Issues can be easily resolved before they grow or spread, as appropriate measures quickly highlight the issues. As a result, the Knowledge management metrics can be of tangible benefit both at the early stages of a project and through out its life.

The Knowledge management metrics should focus on more specific targets and should avoid unspecific and generalized targets. For example, a Knowledge Management Metric such as "improve intranet usage by staff" provides no clearly measurable way of determining success. Rather, a Knowledge Management Metric such as "improve average number of hits to 10000 per day in one month from now" seems to be a better-defined Knowledge Management Metric. Each of the Knowledge management metrics that are defined should specify information such as target value, time frame, who or what will be measured, any assumptions, and dependencies on other projects or systems.

For the Knowledge management metrics to be fully effective, measures must be taken before a project is initiated. This needs to be done to get a clear comparison of the state of the project before and after implementation. When there is strong pressure to start/finish the project rapidly, the decision to take measures on not will be hard to justify. Making pre-project measures enables you to quantify the success of the project the moment you assess the first Knowledge management metrics. The process of quantifying the success of project follows immediately after implementation, which enables rapid and tangible feedback to be obtained, while the issues are still relevant.

The Knowledge management metrics become an automatically generated product of normal usage, on building the collection of measures into the design of the system itself. This greatly reduces the burden of implementing and managing the Knowledge management metrics. To avoid being swamped by too many Knowledge management metrics, meaningful reports need to be created. All the Knowledge management metrics are not amenable to automated collection. In practice, you need a mix of both hard and soft measures.

The Knowledge management metrics put a sharp focus on the factors they measure. The Knowledge management metrics enable organizations to strongly indicate what they consider to be important. The problem with the wrong Knowledge management metrics being used, is that it could distract the organizations from the real issues and goals. In addition, it can even entrench undesirable behavior or reduce productivity. Call centers are a typical example. A very common measure in a call center is of the call handling time. This measure enables to track how long it takes to conclude a customer call. This is a good measure but a short-call will not always meet the goal, as there are chances that a customer ends up unsatisfied with the short call. If this is the only measure, then it ends up encouraging abrupt, fast-talking and rude customer service representatives.

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