Tuesday 28 February 2017, Bristol

The top floor of Burges Salmon’s impressive offices was the venue for this month’s PM Forum South West marketing presentation.

Members were treated to an insightful talk from LibSource’s Vice President of Client Engagement, Eleanor Windsor, on the benefits of knowledge management to marketing and business development.

So what is knowledge management (KM)? 

According to Davenport (1994) it is, “the process of capturing, distributing, and effectively using knowledge.”

Three types of knowledge

Eleanor highlighted three tiers of knowledge for the audience to consider: 

  • Explicit – This is tangible information. 
  • Implicit – Information that is not presented in a tangible way but could be made explicit. 
  • Tacit – Information that is very difficult to present in a tangible form. You really need to bring people together in order to benefit from this information. 

Benefits of good knowledge management

In one form or another, civilisation has benefitted from knowledge management for millennia, so of course for businesses there are huge advantages to managing knowledge. 

These include increased efficiency, lower costs, less risk and ultimately, a great focus on added-value work.  

Knowledge management in BD and marketing

In business development there are many ways in which knowledge management can take shape. Common examples could be: 

  • A pitch database,
  • A CRM system,
  • An expertise database,
  • Knowledge sharing sessions. 

The people contributing to these may be BD managers or executives. But often you will find valuable support from other people like fee earners, a KM support team, your library team and database managers. 

If you don’t have KM professionals in your organisation, the kind of skills to look for within other team members to fulfil this function include curation, organisation, analysis and perseverance. 

The level of KM a business does will, of course, depend on its size, and the resources it has available. It can add value at any level and doesn’t have to cost a fortune or involve “rocket science”. 

A knowledge management ladder

So what if you want to up your KM game? Let’s take a look at KM at three different levels in organisations. 

Basic KM

If you don’t feel you are doing any knowledge management to speak of, a good place to start would be with a pitch database. A central place where you store good pitches that can then be reused to quicken the production of future pitches. 

A second basic activity would be to introduce some simple knowledge sharing sessions to your team. These could even be appended onto the normal team meetings and could see you sharing industry news updates, good sources for research or lessons learned from recently completed work. Make sure you capture this and share the notes. 

Formal KM

Ok, so you’ve got some basics in place, but you want to take your knowledge management to the next level. 

Going back to pitch documents, you could break these down to create a database of key sections that you can easily look up and reuse. 

A formal post-pitch review process can be implemented to ensure you are on top of all the strengths and weakness of your pitching activity. 

CRM systems can be optimised to ensure they are more than glorified address books and are instead used to store all client interactions, adding value to BD. 

Advanced KM

If you want nothing but the best, there is much more advanced activity you could do. 

This could include creating an expertise database so that you can internally match the people with the best skillsets to pitches. 

CRM can be proactively used to advise clients with services like horizon scanning, thus using your systems to directly help clients. 

Try supporting events and thought leadership activity that your business carries out to maximise all the knowledge within your organisation. 

Aggregating industry news and current affairs to keep marketing and BD people up to speed with relevant information that will enhance their performance. 

Finishing up

Eleanor’s presentation concluded with a brief exploration of the capabilities of knowledge management software followed by a lively Q&A session. 

By Huw Bendon, Managing Director of On Point Copywriting
PM Forum South West