How to audit information and knowledge sources?  

If you want good information and knowledge out, you must ensure it goes in.



Old knowledge does not necessarily solve new problems

Knowledge has become an important asset for most businesses, non-profits and communities. Our capability in competing in our globalised and competitive world will largely depend on the quality of our information and knowledge and the way we manage it.

There is growing recognition that knowledge and the ability of an organisation to learn from it, innovate and compete that a knowledge base in each organisation is critical to its survival.  Your information and knowledge should, therefore, be regularly audited for maximum benefit.

To understand and deal with the changing business environment, knowledge management promises deeper insights into an organisation, together with greater impact on how the organisation responds to its customers and the community in which it operates.

Once you start to lean too heavily on your own understanding your organisation could run into trouble. Start by pinpointing all the data sources used by your business. The supply point from which information flows into your knowledge database. Maintain multiple sources, pulling a wide range of data to drive your business in the direction you want

Collaborate with stakeholders on what sources they utilise. Break any ‘silos’ and become more transparent. Communicate your knowledge management objectives and the benefits of having good reliable sources.


“Maybe you’re information and knowledge is not perfect, but you’re willing to improve it. It might not mean that you can turn everything around overnight, but it will be a fantastic start”. Peter Sergeant


The audit of your information and knowledge sources should be exhaustive, as it is the little snippets that can make all the difference. It is far better to have a source that only gives you one outstanding bit of knowledge once in awhile than to have a source that overwhelms you.

In order to build valid, enforceable standards that will lead to more foresight and better insights, it is important to maximise the impact of each source. You must know each kind of source that supplies data, how often they supply it, who manages each source, which people utilise each source, and if the source is direct or third-party.

Keep in mind that it may not be possible to standardise or otherwise alter data from a third-party source, so be sure you can rely on the data they provide. If your local government tells you that there are 2,500 businesses in the community when there are actually  4,000, this could cause you to make poor marketing decisions.

The information audit is the first step towards effective knowledge management. Knowledge is universally recognised as the most important strategic asset that any organisation can have. Many organisations are structured in such a way that their people operate independently of one another, yet they rely on similar information resources.

Because of the proliferation of information sources and delivery methods, information users within organisations can be suffering from ‘information overload’ and in many cases are using a variety of resources to gather their information, some of which may not be the most appropriate for their customer and business needs.

Some organisations operate without the information and knowledge they need because they don’t know where to find it. While others gather anything that looks like it might be relevant and lose control. Consequently, there are often significant gaps, inconsistencies and duplications in information and knowledge resources within the organisation.

Conduct a Business Health Check to uncover areas where you need to beef-up your information and knowledge in order to improve your operational effectiveness and efficiency.


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Personal Experience:

Whenever I mention the word audit, most people cringe. The mere thought of an audit is to think someone from the tax office is knocking on your door asking some awkward questions.

While that might happen there are many other audits every organisation should be participating in on a regular basis and that includes an audit of your information and knowledge base. Where is all the information and knowledge coming from, how is it being managed and where is it going and is it being used as it was intended.

I always remember the old saying, “Garbage in, garbage out”. While I find it hard to manage my knowledge base because of its size, I always try to audit one section each month. It never ceases to amaze me just what I have accumulated over 50 years. And while I keep deleting documents, new ones keep arriving.




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