The Importance of Documenting Institutional Knowledge: Six Benefits for Your Organization
In any organization, change is inevitable and it can often present itself in the form of a changing workforce. Your employees have something very valuable to you and your customers. Simply put it’s “institutional knowledge”. The knowledge and expertise possessed by subject matter experts are invaluable assets. The institutional knowledge and the processes associated with it are typically not known outside of specific functional teams. The best-case scenario of a less-than-ideal situation is that knowledge is passed down verbally from one generation of employees to the next. While at least the employee is sharing what they know, it’s this process that makes the information vulnerable to loss or misinterpretation when employees leave or retire. Compounding the risk of this type of situation is the constant evolution and introduction of new technologies. This pace of change makes it critical to document your organization’s institutional knowledge.
Here are six benefits a company could expect to see from properly documenting institutional knowledge to support product documentation:
- Improved consistency and accuracy: When institutional knowledge isn’t documented, employees may have different interpretations of how a particular process or product works. This can lead to inconsistencies in the final product, which can be confusing for customers and may even lead to product failures. By properly documenting institutional knowledge, a company can ensure all employees have access to the same information. This can help to improve the consistency and accuracy of their products – a single source of truth if you will.
- Increased efficiency: A company benefits greatly from having comprehensive documentation that covers best practices, common issues, and troubleshooting tips. This enables current employees to complete tasks efficiently and effectively, saving time and reducing the risk of costly errors. Additionally, documenting institutional knowledge allows for a smoother onboarding process for new hires, broadening the talent pool and reducing the time and resources required for training.
- Better customer service: When employees have access to comprehensive documentation that outlines the features and benefits of a product as well as common issues and their resolutions, they are better equipped to provide excellent customer service. This can help to build customer loyalty and improve the overall customer experience. Additionally, if a customer encounters a problem that requires assistance from the company, employees can use the documentation to quickly identify the issue and provide a solution, reducing the time it takes to resolve the problem and increasing customer satisfaction.
- Enhanced innovation: When institutional knowledge is documented and shared across the organization, it can be leveraged to foster innovation. Employees can use this knowledge to identify new opportunities and solutions to problems, which can help to drive product development and improve customer satisfaction. Additionally, documented institutional knowledge can help to identify gaps in existing products or services, which can lead to the development of new offerings that meet the needs of customers.
- Compliance and regulatory requirements: Many industries are subject to regulations and compliance requirements. Properly documenting institutional knowledge can help ensure the company is meeting these requirements by providing clear guidelines and procedures. This can help to minimize the risk of non-compliance, which can be costly in terms of fines and damage to the company’s reputation.
- Competitive advantage: In today’s fast-paced business environment, companies that can quickly adapt to changing customer needs and market conditions have a competitive advantage. By properly documenting institutional knowledge, companies can respond quickly to market changes and develop new products and services that meet customer needs. This can help to differentiate the company from its competitors and improve its market position.
By investing in and valuing the documentation process, organizations can ensure that they are well-prepared to handle any challenges that arise and continue to provide the best possible products and services to their customers.