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Capturing and retaining critical knowledge within your organization is important for developing your policies and procedures. Creating knowledge management systems that communicate knowledge effectively with customers, employees, and suppliers is the key to growing your organization.
Do Your Policies and Procedures Need Updating?
The problem for most organizations is that the procedures are not used in the first place. After all, if you used your procedures on a regular basis then you would notice when they needed updating.
So the problem with policies and procedures manuals is usage, right? At Bizmanualz, we try to use our internal procedures regularly. For example, at the beginning of an Internal Audit, we start by getting out the procedure and making sure that our audit plans, checklists, audit findings and the final audit report all conform to the procedure. If we notice a difference, then we will discuss what needs to change, the procedure or the way we are performing the audit. In this way we regularly are reviewing the procedure and ensuring it is up-to-date.
So the next time you are executing a process that has a procedure written for it, stop and take the time to review the procedure, which should be available at the point of use. You may just save yourself the trouble of a grand jury having to tell you to update your procedures.
Besides, policies and procedures that are written but not used will quickly become outdated. Poorlywritten, confusing, or long text-based documents will not be used either. What is used is the informal network of knowledge experts, mentors, and old hands that have done it enough to know what to do without procedure documents. Is better documentation the answer?
Maybe… depending on what you mean by better documentation. Procedure documentation can certainly be improved. Redundant passages can be integrated, unclear terms can be defined, passive voice can be transformed into active voice construction, and poorly written or confusing parts can be clarified and re-written. But this is of little help if people are not using the procedures. Communications are two-way interactions. Procedures provide the basic information but text-based procedures are only one-way communications systems. Robust knowledge management systems must communicate in many different directions in order to reach many different people.
Knowledge Management Systems
One form of a many-to-many communication system is using lean visual management. Employees get involved creating visual maps, aids, and scoreboards for key processes. Process improvements are captured as well as current process metrics, targets, and results. Visual management provides the visual cues that remind employees of important process history, of key training elements, and of what is expected. Visual management can be used to replace text based documents, create engagement, and foster the involvement lacking in purely text based procedures.
Online social networking concepts can be used to connect employees with each other. Organizations can use visuals, job aids, video, and online interactive social media systems to go beyond text-based procedures. Social media tools encourage knowledge sharing, updates and feedback that increase knowledge transfer throughout your organization. Collaboration becomes a reality if you create the knowledge management system that supports it.
New knowledge management systems can transform how your company communicates, interacts, and uses your policies and procedures at every level. Implement a collaborative system that continuously improves user involvement, training, and communications. Leverage your policies and procedures investment to garner more sales, save time and money, and grow your company. It is all possible with new knowledge management system concepts.