Knowledge management solutions (KMS) help businesses develop a comprehensive and collaborative learning base, which can be accessed by employees and improve operational efficiency. By today, these systems have become an essential part of any organization’s IT infrastructure.
Increasing need for digital transformation and rising demand for the tool in large companies are driving the knowledge management software market. According to recent research, it was valued at $22.45 bn in 2020 and is projected to reach $58.81 bn by 2028, growing at a CAGR of 12.67% from 2021 to 2028.
Both companies and customers get profit from such tools.
How to choose the one covering your team needs? Is it better to try a ready-made software, or creating your own system for your company will be a stronger move?
At Surf, we have been developing software for companies of various sizes for over 12 years. We’ve learned everything about the difficulties businesses meet. In this article, we’re sharing the insights to help you take a smarter solution.
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What is a knowledge management solution
Knowledge management solutions are used by companies to better organize, store, and share their information bases. It can become an invaluable asset for businesses of all sizes, making routine processes more convenient, flexible, and easy for their teams.
To get the most out of the software used for the purpose, companies make the following initial steps:
- identify what their employees, customers, and partners usually need to have at their fingertips;
- create accessible sources for all employees on any device or printout range within their business network or publicly (if required in a particular case);
- distribute information efficiently—initially, among team members and then, if necessary, among partners, non-staff personnel, potential personnel, vendors, customers, etc.;
- edit it when necessary.
If you have a fast-growing company and are planning to develop it, this type of software is well worth your investment. Here are some reasons why businesses choose it.
What are the benefits of knowledge management programs
The solutions allow organizations to capture and store information in a centralized platform, making it easy to find and share with colleagues.
Here are some reasons why you may benefit from using them.
- Improves employee productivity. KM software can simplify learning processes automation and streamline workflows, resulting in increased productivity and profitability.
- Leverages the collective intelligence of a team. It is a great opportunity for companies aiming to drive innovation, solve problems faster, and remain competitive in an ever-changing market.
- Simplifies employee onboarding. When a new hire comes, they need all the support possible to get up and running as quickly as possible. Providing them with an easy way of accessing information will make their transition much smoother and help a company avoid slowing down or holding back progress because of a lack of resources.
- Inspires on creating innovative ideas together. Your team can work on projects and generate unique insights. With instant access to department-specific practices, employees will contribute more innovations while carrying out their tasks.
- Boosts your communications. With the right KM solution, companies can effectively manage and distribute information not only to their staff, but to customers and partners.
- Helps your company be agile. By leveraging the right software, businesses get the opportunity to stay agile and responsive in an increasingly complex world. It’s extremely important to stay competitive and overcome challenges easier.
We’ve described some of the benefits typical for the software. Now, let’s dive deeper into the theme and review the differences between turnkey solutions and the custom ones, taking into account organizations’ needs.
What features best knowledge management solutions offer
There are a variety of features to maximize the efficiency and productivity of any organization.
- Document management enables users to easily store documents such as contracts, reports, presentations, instructions, project development plans, and other files in an organized manner.
- Content editor tools are used to add or actualize content, choosing an appropriate style.
- Task scheduling and tracking are used to keep track of tasks assigned to various team members ensuring timely completion.
- Content search engines allow users to quickly locate relevant information within the KM system, making it easier for employees to access it without spending time on searching for it.
- Analytics provide insight into user activities across the entire organization, helping managers make informed decisions about operational strategies.
- Knowledge sharing and collaboration tools help teammates exchange their documents and bases.
Exact toolset for a KM system differs. Whichever to choose, depends on your business priorities, needs, and aims.
Top turnkey KM solution and their use cases
Turnkey solutions offer different sets of features appropriate for the majority of companies. With them, you don’t have to create the software from scratch. So, you also don’t have to involve your team to select setups and special tool sets adopted for your team needs.
Besides, your in-house developers won’t spend too much time when you’ll start using the solution. And thanks to the numerous intelligible guides vendors provide, the adoption process won’t be long.
However, you won’t own the code, and a program can be rebuilt regardless of your will. You won’t select a tech stack and tools to provide your data security either. Adding any feature can become a problem, and support in situations when you need to get help fast will depend completely on the vendor team.
A turnkey solution is a choice for small and middle-sized companies without any special requirements to features and design. If interested, here are some nice KM solutions to start with.
Top 6 existing knowledge management programs
Below we’ve described some KMS tried by thousands of users and having good reviews. We don’t compare the programs to each other, but highlight their specific characteristics. It will help you select the best one for your company goals.
It is a platform that helps collaborate and store information across your entire team. The easy integration with other Atlassian solutions like Jira and Trello makes it seamless for everyone in an organization to access any information they need. With 75+ pre-built templates, you’ll form learning bases much faster than ever before. Your DevOps engineers will get a powerful tool to deliver information to other members of a team, setting up processes faster than ever.
Appropriate for: creating remote-friendly workspace, sharing info, and project collaboration
It offers a solution that makes creating help articles easy with its editor, allowing different people to work on the same project and speeding up content creation. Advanced search functionality and customer-service teams oriented tools are the benefits of the software. It also offers localization in over 40 languages, so you can serve your diverse audience well.
Appropriate for: organizing info bases for sales teams and in-depth analytics
If you’re looking for a tool that can help streamline your company’s project management processes and improve communication within the organization, Notion might be worth considering. The system will make it easy for you to manage projects, tasks, and knowledge at once. It is great if your business needs an internal base where employees can find answers on how they should do things or what has been done in the past with their assigned responsibilities.
Appropriate for: creating internal bases and working on projects
It is a powerful workspace for team collaboration, customer relationship management, and project coordination. The solution provides easy access to information across devices including mobile phones or laptops with the option of customizing base settings.
Appropriate for: info sharing with cross-device access and creating mind maps
Helpjuice’s solution helps you easily create top- notch internal and customer service info bases. There is a wide range of customization features and collaboration tools for teams in different locations, working on projects simultaneously. Advanced search capabilities and analytics on search requests are some of the benefits of this KMS.
Appropriate for: creating info bases and delivering them to team members
Bloomfire is a tool that provides knowledge management, collaboration, and analytics features to help your team work more effectively. With comments, likes, and feeds for each user on the platform, the tool keeps teams engaged while they’re rushing together towards project goals.
Appropriate for: creating bases for employees and working on projects
When custom KM solution is worth building
Custom knowledge management solutions offer a variety of features tailored to your company needs. You and your developer team (and/or vendor) create it from scratch, following the best practices and making the system work and look just as you like.
Besides functionality and design of your dream, with custom software you get boosted security as a benefit. Owning the code, choosing the tech stack and extra tools to protect your data, changing anything you like in the system to make it work excellent—all the things become a guarantee of building a successful and reliable tool your company will use for years.
Any changes (features, integrations, etc.) depend only on your needs.
However, it’s a more expensive solution than a turnkey one. And its creation often requires your in-house developers’ deep involvement.
Custom knowledge management software is a smart choice for fast growing companies and large businesses. With the unique set of features, exceptional UI and UX, and security measures you and your team will enjoy working with the tool and optimize knowledge management within a company, and more.
Custom software development in practice
To show you when creating custom programs will be a good idea, we have reviewed some cases from our developer team practice. The companies mentioned below are well known to the majority of readers, and the solutions they chose can become an example for companies with similar requests.
The Client addressed us for digitizing their internal processes, providing managers with a simple tool so they could track the status of restaurants, and creating a more accurate and transparent analytics system for senior management. As a result, we created an ERP that would automate many manual kitchen workflows, bringing together partners from different cities into one ecosystem—KFC DSR.
With this custom software, numerous excellent features became available for KFC:
- dashboards and reports on restaurant performance,
- automated work schedules for restaurants,
- digital task management,
- ‘Calendar’ section, showing a list of pending tasks created automatically and grouped according to their frequency,
- a digital catalog of all employee personal files that shows contact information, work schedules, sick leaves, and information on vacations of each employee,
- the automated time clock system powered by a facial recognition system for employees.
As we see, the toolset covers numerous business needs—a program like this can be used instead of several different turnkey solutions. The ERP offers rich functionality tailored to KFC processes, freedom to change setups when necessary, and a very high level of security. Our Client may get profit from it for a long-term period and scale it for other chain restaurants.
We were addressed by the world’s largest trading and manufacturing company existing since 1911. The Client needed a universal solution for more than 10 thousand employees to increase the digital literacy of each employee, inspire employees to generate ideas for digital transformation, and change the attitude of employees to corporate training as it is necessary to make business grow. Besides, there was a need in increasing HR-brand value and higher employee involvement in the company processes.
To assist our Client in reaching their goals, we did the following:
- built a custom web application with two authorisation pathways,
- created UI/UX structured in a way that helps employees move forward in their training, earn bonuses just like playing a game, and spend them on useful presents from company,
- created a backend with a well-thought structure, taking into account prospects of the system growth and adding new employees,
- added activities for employees—learning by articles, training, and tests, store to spend the bonus points and order any useful item,
- implemented a multi-layer rating system for a healthy competition spirit,
- developed a mobile app for learning on the go.
It’s not a knowledge management program, but much more than that. With this software, our Client inspires the employees to learn and be more initiative, building a bridge between office and production departments.
Choosing knowledge management software: summary
- Knowledge management solutions are aimed to organize information storage and flow within the company.
- They help employees get access to information fast, increase productivity, simplify the onboarding process, inspire teams on effective collaboration and generating ideas, and boost agility.
- Document management, content editing, task scheduling and tracking, content search, analytics, and sharing are the main features of such software.
- Turnkey solutions are appropriate for small and medium-sized companies, but they cannot offer tools tailored to specific business needs. Any issues related to code ownership and security will be within your vendor’s area of responsibility, so it should be a very reliable one.
- Confluence, Notion, Bitrix24, and Bloomfire belong to the most popular solutions today.
- Custom software offers an ability to create numerous unique features, to add and delete them, and a full freedom in further system development according to your plans. In this case you own the code and get full control over a security level. It’s an optimal solution for developing companies, enterprises, and large companies.
- Custom knowledge management software development requires a client’s team involvement and its cost is high enough, but the larger your company is, the more you get and save with the tool. It is a prospective solution that will strengthen your team results for many years.