Why You Need an Internal Knowledge Audit

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Last updated: September 4, 2018

An internal knowledge audit helps you align all the information you have in your company and become more aware of your knowledge processes.

An internal knowledge audit helps you identify your strengths and weaknesses in relation to organizational knowledge. The purpose of a knowledge audit is to find out what is the state of organizational knowledge, what type of knowledge exists and what type of knowledge is needed in different business processes.

A knowledge audit helps you answer the following questions:

  1. What knowledge does your company need?
  2. What tacit and explicit knowledge does your company have?
  3. How does knowledge flow within your organization?
  4. What are the knowledge gaps in your organization?

The benefits of a knowledge audit are dependent on the company’s needs and goals regarding knowledge practices. The benefits could include, for example:

1. Better Recruitment

After a knowledge audit, it will be easier to find out what type of skills and knowledge is missing and would be needed in your company. When thinking about recruitment needs, visiting the documentation around current knowledge gaps helps verbalize what new employees would be expected to bring to the table. After conducting the audit it will also be easier to see who could function as a mentor or a trainer to a new employee because it is easy to determine who has the most necessary knowledge to go over specific onboarding processes.

Read more: Recruitment vs. Talent Acqusition - Is There a Difference? (Yes.)

2. Reduction of Double Work

Since there is clear knowledge of who knows what, the amount of double work will be reduced. Let’s say for example, that someone at sales would need to know what are the most common reasons why customers are lost at a certain part of the customer cycle. Instead of starting over with data gathering, interviews, and analysis, they can refer to the knowledge bank and find out if someone already has knowledge about customer cycle drop-out points.

3. Improved Collaboration

It is easier for employees to collaborate and ask and offer help when they know who knows what and where relevant knowledge is stored. Interdepartmental collaboration improves when duplicate tasks are reduced: if, for example, it becomes evident both sales and marketing are in need of information regarding new market trends, one person can be assigned to do research, and then share the knowledge with both teams.

4. Better Training and Supporting Employees

Managers can keep up with what people know and what are the most pressing knowledge gaps employees have, that keep them from succeeding in their everyday work. Once managers know what type of knowledge gaps their employees have, they can provide employees with support and training to increase their knowledge.

Managers can also use the knowledge audit to find out where employees feel their personal development areas are, and pivot personal development programs to fill individual knowledge gaps. Knowledge gaps can be filled by, for example, allocating time to let employees familiarize themselves with the latest industry developments, signing up to webinars and downloading white papers, reading industry-related literature or taking a course that teaches new skills.

5. Improved Company Culture

A good knowledge sharing culture improves employee wellbeing and employee retention. When employees don’t have to spend all their time asking or looking for the same information, their levels of productivity will increase, which will improve the health of the business as well.

Related: Employee Retention: Here's How to Keep Your Talent

6. Improved Customer Satisfaction and Product Quality

When the flow of information improves, helping customers will be faster and more efficient, which improves customer satisfaction. When product developers improve their understanding of what the market and customer needs are, they will be able to make better adjustments faster.

An internal knowledge audit results in an improved company culture and customer satisfaction

How to Perform a Knowledge Audit

A knowledge audit should be performed in a way that best fits each company’s needs, but there are some good practices everyone can draw upon. We recommend following these three steps to performing a knowledge audit:

1. Knowledge Inventory

First, find out what type of knowledge your employees have and who has what information. Then find out, what type of knowledge is needed, and where the knowledge gaps are. This can be done by for example using questionnaires, surveys or interviews.

2. Knowledge Flow Analysis

Next, find out how employees search for knowledge and how easy or difficult it is for them to find it. What tools are used to find knowledge, where is most relevant knowledge stored and how do your employees approach finding knowledge? Focus both on how information is found and how it is shared. Map, document and preferably visualize your organizational knowledge flow: how does information move between different departments, between team members and between management and employees?

3. Reviewing and Improving

After performing the audit, document the findings and make improvements accordingly. It is recommended to write down the goals of the knowledge audit before and then read the results against the goals. If you find, for example, departmental silos or a lack of knowledge sharing culture to be hindering your knowledge economy, consider creating a program to improve knowledge sharing and knowledge management.

Companies should optimize their knowledge infrastructure so that all informational content is relevant and can be easily reached by the employees. A "knowledge infrastructure" refers to all tools that are used to both capture and access knowledge needed for everyday work as well as learning processes.

To find out more about organizational knowledge sharing, feel free to download our free guide below!

Free Guide - Organizational Knowledge Sharing 101: How to get Started  

Mia Mäkipää
September 04, 2018