Is your manufacturing company on the cusp of a digital transformation? Before you dive into this initiative, it’s important to make sure your knowledge management strategy is up to par.

The way you process and share information matters, and defining the right strategy is a key aspect of digital transformation. Without a plan in place, you could unknowingly automate inefficient workflows, lowering the overall return on your investment.

In other words, manufacturers wanting to optimize their business processes should consider improving their manufacturing knowledge management strategy. Today, we’re sharing eight reasons why this effort is so important.

8 Reasons to Rethink Your Knowledge Management

1. Ensures You Analyze and Adjust Before You Automate

A digital transformation is an ideal time to analyze the key knowledge sources within your organization. What sources and facts underpin your operations and where did they come from.

Each manufacturer will answer differently, but some of the most common sources of knowledge include:

  • Prior knowledge and industry experience 
  • Ongoing innovation
  • Technology transfers
  • Change management
  • Continual improvement 
  • Process validation studies during product development

While it’s easy to become accustomed to your company’s best practices for managing and sharing information, it’s important to ensure your data sources are still viable and reliable, especially before you digitize them.

After all, knowledge management is one of the most important tools in your competitive arsenal. It allows you to access insights held by key individuals and subject matter experts (SMEs) and distribute that information across your organization. This enhances company-wide expertise and improves overall performance. 

If you don’t have a strategy in place to control these activities, you might end up moving inefficient processes to your new enterprise software.

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2. Facilitates Project Management

Rethinking your current knowledge management strategy can mitigate many digital transformation challenges. The information that comes to light during this process helps you nail down core business requirements and reach a consensus on:

  • The digital features you need the new software to provide 
  • The digital features you can live without 
  • The vendors that offer that functionality 
  • Current pain points and ways to solve them 

3. Organizes Influxes of Data

As digital systems, like manufacturing ERP systems, become increasingly connected, manufacturers can access more data than ever before. This information comes from a range of different systems, tools, products, and employees. 

Knowledge management strategies keep this data in check and allow companies to mine it for important insights. Without a strategy in place, essential information could slip through the cracks. 

4. Optimizes Operational Compliance

Manufacturers operate in a highly regulated environment. The ability to create an information trail and maintain data integrity are major advantages for this sector.

Knowledge management helps companies meet compliance standards by preventing missteps, avoiding repetition, and effectively guiding the product development lifecycle. 

Your knowledge management strategy should outline how you will share and analyze internal and external feedback, so you can continually remain compliant. 

5. Accelerates Business Decisions

When managers have instant access to the information they need, they can make essential business decisions more easily.

In today’s fast-paced and highly competitive manufacturing realm, real-time data can be a massive advantage. Companies that lag behind face the risk of becoming irrelevant or obsolete as more innovative thinkers take over the market. 

6. Facilitates Virtual Work

Digital-first strategies are becoming the norm as more organizations opt for fully remote or hybrid work models.

If you’re still using the same knowledge management strategies you did when all your employees reported to the office, it might be time to make a change. 

Knowledge workers should be able to connect with one another via platforms like Zoom. Consider ways that you can adjust your current strategy to make it easier for teams to share knowledge and embrace digital work solutions. 

7. Improves Employee Morale

According to one national survey, more than 50% of employees cannot find the information they need at work. As a result, 57% say that’s why their productivity is lagging. 

The whole point of embracing a digital workplace is to make it easier for employees to collaborate, communicate, and connect. With the right knowledge-sharing strategy in place, you can help foster productive business relationships inside and outside your organization. 

The result? A happy, engaged, and productive workforce. When your team members are satisfied, it enhances company-wide performance and fuels future growth. 

8. Helps You Stay Ahead of Digital Trends

The COVID-19 pandemic has shifted the way companies look at knowledge sharing and information management. Now, resources such as remote expert models are starting to replace traditional, in-office SMEs. Wearable technology allows these experts to assist a larger number of technicians and employees, no matter where they are located.

Not only does this reduce travel and labor costs, but it gives companies that weren’t able to establish expert networks in the past the opportunity to do so. 

If your manufacturing knowledge management strategy is still based on face-to-face interactions, it’s time to rethink that approach. Even if your company doesn’t plan to go fully remote, preparing to embrace modern ERP, CRM, and SCM systems can help you digitize your knowledge management and stay competitive. 

Optimize Your Approach to Manufacturing Knowledge Management

As you prepare for an upcoming digital transformation, it’s important to start with a solid foundation. This means standardizing and streamlining your core business processes, including the way your company shares and manages information. 

If you haven’t touched your manufacturing knowledge management strategy in a while, it’s time to dust it off. Automating it as-is could be a recipe for disaster, leaving your employees without access to the critical data they need. 

Interested in learning more about this process? Our manufacturing ERP consultants can help you re-imagine your knowledge management and process documentation strategy. Contact us below for a free consultation.

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