The challenges and opportunities of being an ‘overhead’

KnowledgeIt has been a while since I last discussed knowledge management, but real-life professional commitments have taken priority over the last couple of months as I rolled out a range of internal online precedents and resources portals and started working on a range of web projects aimed at adding value to clients and pursuing business development opportunities in a tough economic climate.

KM is an exciting and challenging area to work in both intellectually, administratively and from a social interaction perspective.

Intellectually, because you need to be on top of legal and practice developments in a range of practice areas and often across a range of jurisdictions both locally and internationally.

Administratively, because you have to process that information with often relatively minimal resources and then channel it with precision to the right audience in a diverse practice environment and with the brevity that recognises that you are dealing with busy professionals who are constantly bombarded with information.

And finally, you must be a champion of social interaction both externally to draw in the right information and internally to manage many competing priorities, personalities and level of appreciation of the role of KM.

While you are juggling all these challenges you must also be aware of the reality that you are not a ‘fee-earner’ but an administrative overhead and you must be able to demonstrate the value-add KM can create and add to your business on an ongoing basis.

To be able to demonstrate and quantify the value-add proposition you need to think, plan and act strategically.

You need to interact with your internal (and sometimes external) stakeholders continuously to know what their needs are and then provide appropriate KM solutions.

In the world of KM this can mean a wide range of things, but most importantly you need to know exactly what information your stakeholders need and how that information is best delivered to them.

You need to make sure that your precedent and resources delivery portal is intuitive and the information/material it contains is relevant. If you can achieve that, your internal stakeholders will be able to get access to the information they need swiftly, reducing research time, improving service delivery timeframes and therefore adding significant value to your organisation by saving costs and improving service delivery and client satisfaction.

You can also take KM to the next level and create additional value-add for the clients of your organisation by stepping outside to aid them in developing their own, or improve their existing, KM systems taking advantage of your KM knowledge and experience. This will create an extra layer of external stakeholders for KM, which increases your profile both internally and externally and creates further value-add through client loyalty.

In some special cases KM is also capable of creating added revenue in fees for professional KM services by turning KM into a ‘product’ that your organisation can market and sell, further proving your ability to add value.

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