Once a focus area is established, your KM team will need a system to bring together leaders, experts, and other stakeholders to outline the specific needs, roles, tasks, systems, relationships, and subdomains that the KM effort will target. KM teams use various approaches to uncover knowledge needs, including manager input, knowledge audits, and analysis of existing resources. However, knowledge mapping is the most effective way to gather input and create consensus on what constitutes critical knowledge.
A knowledge map is a visual representation of organizational knowledge and how it is created, shared, and used throughout the enterprise. Knowledge mapping can focus on a process, role, competency or learning need, function, or strategic priority. With this organizing structure as a pivot, the map encompasses both documented knowledge assets and the expertise and know-how stored in employees’ heads.
To create knowledge maps, your KM team will need to work with the business (e.g., subject matter experts, managers, or other stakeholders) to look at each step in a process or area and answer three questions:
- What knowledge is needed?
- Who has that knowledge, or how can it be accessed?
- When is the knowledge needed?
Your KM team can then use this information to understand the movement of knowledge and perform a gap analysis between the current state and the ideal state. The resulting knowledge map will clearly show any discrepancies between how knowledge currently flows and how it should flow.