Efficiency is doing things right; effectiveness is doing the right things – Peter Drucker
The Double-Headed Monster of Search Costs
- it takes longer to find things
- time = cost
- to do get more done you will need to spend more, just to get the same level of productivity
Margin pressures from knowledge and search inefficiencies are further magnified by a less obvious source, but one that may even be more expensive to your financial results. Your employees are frustrated. McKinsey reports up to 20% of your employees time is spent searching for the things they need to get their work done. Even more worrisome is that the same report puts search and email work at nearly 50% of your employees time!!
- knowledge search is frustrating employees
- frustrated employees don’t perform as well as non-frustrated employees
- they are also more likely to leave
- and it is more expensive to find and hire a new employee than it is to retain one
- which strains margins
Organize Your Tool Shed 🧰
Imagine it takes you 5 hours each week to complete a home improvement task and you spend an entire hour just searching for the lawnmower, weed whacker and leaf blower, you need to do that home improvement task. It is likely that may happen once, and then you would create an organizational system to minimize that search cost.
One way we have seen companies attempt to solve this organizational knowledge problem is by creating an internal corporate wiki. Creating a corporate wiki solves some of the issues that companies deal with when it comes to knowledge management, the biggest of which, being the reduction of “places to search” to a single, centralized portal. Here is summary of the benefits of a corporate wiki:
1️⃣ Centralized Portal: Your employees are “portaled” out. Not all documents and not all information is stored in a single location. Employees are expected to be able to know where information is, expected to know the security credentials to get into the disparate sites where information is stored, and expected to be able to search and leaf through the library of options to find the relevant information, then piece the information from the disparate sources together into a cohesive solution. Worse, they are often expected to do this in minutes under pressure from a calling customer or internal colleague. A wiki’s purpose serves as a centralized platform for sharing and storing important information. One portal source for all information. Structured and unstructured data. Audio, video, CRMs, notes.
2️⃣ Faster search: Since all of the information is in one spot, search tools, including modern powerful AI tools, can scour the entire corpus of information. Constant indexing of the information means that search queries do not return an overwhelming number of pieces of information, but is filtered for the right information at the right time, which allows your employees to more confidently move faster.
3️⃣ Establish a Productivity Culture: Companies that can effectively centralize their corporate information and provide powerful search functions will have much more productive work environments. It also tells your employees that you will give them the tools they need to be productive and successful. For companies that preach their client-centric virtues, having superior knowledge management validates that description and builds trust within the organization.
4️⃣ Cost-Effective Training: Wikis can serve as a cost-effective training and onboarding resource, providing new employees with key information about the organization, its practices and systems.
Another plus to an internal corporate wiki is that there is a wealth of tools now available that makes it even easy to stand one up. Tools such as **Notion, Coda, Confluence,** and Document360. All of these come at various price ranges and simplicity of use. Of course, many of the new tools also come with AI tools to help simplify the search process.
For companies that may wish to explore adding a corporate wiki to their internal knowledge management, here are some considerations you will want to make note of:
- Content Management: Keep the content relevant, up-to-date, and comprehensive. Employees should be able to locate the latest version of any source of information and not have to do a search within a search. On the other hand, prior, relevant information should be maintained in case the search exercise is to trend a change.
- Information Overload: Organizing a large amount of information in a way that’s easy to navigate can be complex. Structured and unstructured (Audio, video, pdfs, scanned docs, etc) information must be at your employees’ finger tips. This is not a trivial project management task.
- Security & Confidentiality: Protecting sensitive company data while ensuring easy access for employees can be tricky. Which employees can get access to which information? Corporate contracts for instance need security controls to prevent sensitive information from escaping. The release of client data could destroy the reputation of a company, so give ample consideration to user management governance.
- Time & Resources: Setting up and maintaining a wiki can require significant time and resources. Even with the wealth of tools available, and even with AI technology, expect to invest in human resources, to first, stand the wiki up and secondarily, maintain the wiki over time as your business and the technology affecting it evolves.
I will have much more to say and discuss about how you should be contemplating AI in these processes (not just knowledge management), but suffice it to say that AI is a marvelous technology for what it can do, but in fields where there is a critical tolerance for accurate information, not all AI is equal and you will need to pay special attention to that facet when low tolerance of inaccuracy cannot be tolerated.