How Do I Measure Knowledge Management Performance?

Peter Hann

Knowledge management performance within an organization must be measured against the knowledge management strategy adopted. Measurable elements within that strategy, such as participation in knowledge-sharing databases, may be included in a balanced scorecard to arrive at a measure of knowledge management performance. Some aspects of the strategy, such as the attitude toward knowledge sharing, may not be easily quantifiable because they are based on subjective judgment, but these may be measured by staff surveys or questionnaires. The result computed by means of a balanced scorecard may give an indication of the successful implementation of a knowledge management strategy, and progress may be indicated by an increase in the score over time. As knowledge management objectives evolve over time, the knowledge management performance measure must be adapted to changes in corporate strategy.

Man holding computer
Man holding computer

Quantifiable measures of knowledge management performance may include the number of knowledge-sharing communities arising, the number of topics discussed on collaborative sites, the number of staff ideas deemed to be useful or the level of awareness of knowledge management strategies among the staff of the organization. Management of knowledge from external sources could be measured by the number of reports or entries to the knowledge database from staff attending seminars and conferences, the amount of knowledge-sharing links with outside organizations or the amount of knowledge sharing resulting from examination of trade journals or specialist websites. Measurement of knowledge management performance could be made more results-oriented by quantifying the number of best practices identified, the number of suggestions resulting in improvements to processes or the contributions that have led to securing new business.

A knowledge management strategy that emphasizes the collection and processing of feedback from customers and open innovation strategies to design future products would adapt its performance measurement accordingly. The number of reports collected from customers or feedback from staff dealing with customers could be an appropriate measure, together with the number of customer feedback reports that lead to the implementation of innovative changes to products. These quantities could be tracked over time to measure improvements in each aspect of knowledge sharing. They also could be incorporated into a balanced scorecard by which the results are expressed as a percentage of targeted outcomes and weighted by reference to the amount of time devoted to them by the knowledge management team. The categories and weightings used in measuring knowledge management performance could be modified as the corporate objectives change and the knowledge management strategy evolves, producing a continuous assessment of the success of the strategy.

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