Benefits Of Using Discussion Forums in a Knowledge Management Environment

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This blog explores how Universal Knowledge can help businesses enable inter and cross departmental collaboration by discussing three areas where forums within knowledge bases can add benefit for internal organisations.

By developing the collaborative feature of discussion forums, Universal Knowledge is expanding its functional capabilities and providing additional business value. Knowledge users can now collaborate and connect more effectively and have a place within Universal to capture and track new ideas. By including an online platform for conversation between its user base, Universal Knowledge can assist organisations to enhance effective communication surrounding knowledge within their information estate. The inclusion of discussion forums confirms Universal Knowledge as a core tool within internal organisations, strengthening the existing collaboration features, such as the existing communications platform, expert escalation of questions and feedback features.

Forums As A Tool To Begin The Process Of Knowledge Creation

Forums are a powerful tool to help teams work together to publish new documents. What started off as a simple discussion around new ideas, can often evolve into valuable knowledge which could be used to the benefit of the whole business. For instance, early discussions may end up guiding the creation of a new product and/or services.

Using forums as an aid to create content may significantly improve the quality of knowledge documents produced. Recently, in a Deloitte White-Paper it was established in the department of operations research, knowledge experts created content based on various biases. For instance, when an operations employee needed to generate new knowledge to solve a problem, they often tended only seek information that confirmed their initial assumption and ignore all other contrary evidence that disagreed with their held beliefs.

The use of Universal’s forum feature can help mitigate any bias problem that many businesses face when dealing with the creation of new knowledge. Instead of letting employees become insular, Universal Knowledge’s experts are encouraged to actively communicate with each other when in the process of creating new knowledge. They become motivated to react in a collaborative manner, to one another’s perspectives and experiences, and thus use forums as a springboard to negotiate the construction of new ‘unbiased’ content.

Forums As A Tool To Discuss How To Improve Existing Content

Knowledge users can utilise Universal Knowledge’s forum feature as a suggestion box on existing knowledge items to discuss improvements on live documents. Used in this way, a forum can let teams share thoughts on crucial issues on a piece of content already in existence which may be outdated and in need of revising.

By allowing users to collaborate to quickly validate the merits of an idea on existing sources through the use of forums, Universal Knowledge can help speed up the process of iterative thinking and thus has potential to speed up the innovation process. A study by the Department of Industry found that companies that make use of collaborative technology are more likely to innovate in comparison to businesses that do not collaborate. In concurrence, the heavyweight accounting firm PWC states that using a collaborative approach can be remarkably effective as it increases the levels of motivations and participation, pulls teams together and therefore provides a fertile ground for knowledge capture, resulting in more innovative results.

By utilising forums within Universal Knowledge, users will have access to open-minded employees who can quickly validate any ideas or changes that need to be made on existing knowledge articles, which will in turn help speed the process for innovation. In this way users have the ability to collaborate around different ideas deciding whether suggestions have any merits or alternatively, can help save time by burning through bad ideas.

Help All Users Within The Knowledge Base Seek Assistance And Support

Universal Knowledge’s new discussion board feature is a great way for members of a group within the Knowledge Base to seek assistance and support. The forums within Universal Knowledge allow employees to locate and discuss ideas with the right people (e.g. from proposal writing to sales prospecting) who are outside the employee’s explicit network, enabling the right conversations to happen irrespective of geographic location.

In this light, Universal’s forum feature can act as an intranet help desk within your business. This outcome will negate the repetition of tasks across the organisation and can therefore lead to productivity gains and cost savings. For instance, employees may ask a question on a particular topic and receive a helpful answer. By using Universal Knowledge’s forum, employee answers can be recycled so next time an employee has a similar question they can first search the forums section and see previously discussed conversations on any given topic relevant to their initial query. Using this self-service culture within an organisation can be invaluable and lead to substantial profitability benefits, since employees within an organisation with relevant expertise only have to complete an answer once for the benefit to be realised across the entire business.

Creating A Return On Investment For Knowledge Base Discussion Forums

A key consideration for making discussion forums effective for a knowledge base solution is having the right strategy. This is because the return on investment from collaboration tools is complicated by the fact, that even if the company deploys the world’s best collaboration tool, it does not necessarily mean that adoption will follow. A successful deployment almost always depends on effective user education and fundamentally changing user behaviours.

To help make the project a success, we will run workshops with you to uncover critical success factors before anything is implemented. For instance, we will work with you to help convey to your employees that there is a clear purpose to the use of discussion forums.  We will run training sessions to help staff realise their posts will have a direct impact on a particular issue or will provide some tangible benefit (for the organisation, or for other staff). For more information on KPS’ training and consultation services please click here.

In summary, the nature of collaboration through the use of discussion forums within Universal Knowledge has the power to enable collective innovation, reduce bias issues and allow for productivity gains and cost savings.