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Document Management v.s. Knowledge Management

author Justin Friedman

What is your team’s # 1 asset?

You may say it is your employees. True, but if you think about it more, it really is the knowledge and know-how that your employees possess. Therefore, it is critical for teams to capture the knowledge and know-how so they can be easily shared among team members and grow over time. Doing so also ensures that when employees leave the company, the knowledge does not leave with them.

OK, let’s do more documentation. But …

Traditionally, companies use document management system such as Alfresco, Sharepoint etc. to manage their knowledge, and later on, find out that they don’t work. Good documentation requires a tremendous amount of effort and resources. But when a user needs one piece of information for a specific issue, it is very hard to find it in the sea of documents. And in today’s fast-changing world, documents go outdated very quickly.

It becomes evident that documents alone are not enough to capture your team knowledge. What you need is a true Knowledge Management System (KMS). Today, the knowledge management system is crucial to ensuring that your company stays competitive in a dynamic marketplace that changes at lightning speed.

Learn what is knowledge management and how to implement a successful knowledge management system.

So what are the main differences between document management (DM) and knowledge management (KM)? And do the differences matter?

Yes, absolutely. Choosing the wrong tools for your knowledge management effort will result in significant loss of time, money, and resources. Your employee will be frustrated by the system and eventually abandon it. Have a clear understanding of the differences between document management and knowledge management is critical to the success of your knowledge management initiative.

Now, let’s take a closer look at the main characteristics of each:

Document Management System (DMS)

Document Management System is designed to transform your documents from a paper-based form into a paperless one. It manages the publishing, storage, and retrieval of digital files. It organizes documents in a tree-like structure and utilizes metadata for classification. Other functions include indexing, searching, administration, versioning, and security.

So, Document Management Systems mainly focus on storing and organizing your business files so you can find and retrieve them when needed. Basically, you can consider it as the digital file repository that replaces a hard copy filing cabinet that used to sit somewhere in your office.

Knowledge Management System (KMS)

Knowledge Management System has a broader scope than that of a Document Management System. It intends to retain, manage, and distribute different types of organizational knowledge, both explicit knowledge and tacit knowledge. The main goal of a knowledge management system is not only about being the platform to capture knowledge but also about how to break knowledge silos and improve internal communication so knowledge can be shared effectively. So, documents are just one part of a knowledge management system. A good effective Knowledge Management System is a full-fledged knowledge base including wiki, document library, questions & answers, powerful search, and built-in workflow. It puts much more emphasis and priority on extracting useful and current information over simply storing the raw data.

Want to see different types of knowledge management systems? Checkout Knowledge Management Software by Examples.

In today's fast-changing world, knowledge management is one of the key differentiators that drive competition in the marketplace. The more effectively and efficiently a company captures and shares its knowledge with its employees, the better the business will perform. Here are some key benefits of knowledge management systems:

  • Increased employee productivity
  • Efficient access to organizational knowledge
  • Improved collaboration without silos
  • More clarity and faster decision-making
  • Long-term benefits of a knowledge-sharing culture
  • Faster new employee onboarding
  • No more knowledge lost when employees leave

We have been using the wrong tool. No wonder …

Different from document management systems, a good knowledge management system needs to be agile and collective in nature. AllAnswered.com, one of the best knowledge management solution, is a perfect case in point.

 

allanswered knowledge management

Wiki + Q&As

There are two types of knowledge - explicit knowledge and tacit knowledge. Explicit knowledge is also known as know-what and can be effectively captured with documentation. On the other hand, tacit knowledge, also known as know-how, is very difficult to capture because it is experience-based and commonly buried in emails, notes, chats, and people's heads.

AllAnswered uses Wiki pages to capture explicit knowledge and uses posts such as Questions & Answers (Q&As) to capture tacit knowledge.

Wiki is collective in nature - every team member can access, create, and edit content by default. The latest content is made available to all team members instantly. The website wikipedia.org is the most well-known site with contributors from all over the world. Wiki for internal use will have the necessary access controls for security reasons, but the main goal of Wiki is to lower the barrier to participate and encourage user contribution.

See Top 3 Reasons You Should Upgrade Your Company Wiki

Here is an example of our modern Wiki editor.

 

 

If you use Quora or Stack Overflow before, you know why you love them. They capture knowledge in the form of Q&As. Each post is a piece of bite-sized information that targets one specific knowledge. It is easy to create and update as needed. It is also a natural way to encourage people to contribute to real issues collectively.

 

See Minimize Distractions and Boost Team Productivity With A Company Q&A System. Here is an example of a typical Q&A post on AllAnswered.

 

questions and answers

 

Power of communities

Just like Slack using channels for team communication, AllAnswered leverages the power of communities to capture and grow team knowledge. You can create a community for a project, a group, or any common interest. A community can be open or private just like a Slack channel. Any team member can join open communities, but private communities are by invitation only. A team can have multiple admins and each community can have multiple moderators.

Communities bring the right people and knowledge together. People from cross-functional groups can join. They share information, propose ideas, and collaborate together with a common purpose and place. The cross-functional nature of communities helps break knowledge silos within organizational groups and foster a knowledge-sharing culture within your organization.

Integrated with your workflow

Another thing you will like about AllAnswered is that it is integrated with the tools that you use every day - emails, Slack, Microsoft Teams, Github, Jira, Google docs, just to name a few.

See all the fantastic integrations AllAnswered currently supports.

For example, with our Slack integration, each community can be mapped to a specific Slack channel and the setup is a breeze. Once you set it up, your team will see new posts from AllAnswered right in your Slack channel. We made it super easy to ask questions, provide answers, and capture knowledge as its being discussed in Slack. With AllAnswered integration, you can search the information you need in AllAnswered knowledge base without leaving Slack. Integrations with other tools that you use frequently minimize the wasted time from context switching, and boost your team's productivity.

 

 

slack integration

 

Awesome!

Yes, indeed. If your team is still using the wrong tools to manage team knowledge, give AllAnswered a try. You will see the difference. Our customers report an average of 20% improvement in time-saving and overall productivity gains.

author

Justin Friedman

Marketing manager at AllAnswered.com. Technology enthusiast. Obsessed with SaaS and team collaboration tools. I am always learning and love to help!