Valuable Advice for Growing a Successful Enterprise Knowledge Platform

Congratulations! You have decided on a corporate standard for your knowledge technology platform and you have uncovered all of the knowledge storage and sources in your company, now what?  How do you know what is important for making your initiative successful and how do you accomplish it?  If we assume that you have ownership sorted out, this fundamentally comes down to onboarding and maintenance.  For this Blog’s purposes, onboarding will be used to discuss organizational units and their knowledge and processes, as well as new integrations.  The maintenance discussion will cover everything from capacity to feedback loops.  This is not meant to be an exhaustive checklist, it IS meant to get the conversation started.

Onboarding Groups and Applications


Typically, every organizational unit will not go live in the first release. Even if you did decide to boil the ocean, your company will likely make some acquisitions in the future, giving you new groups to onboard.  The odds are that you want to create a distributed knowledge practice to enable these unit’s knowledge practices (as opposed to serving as their knowledge practice).  This means that whatever type of group you are trying to onboard the challenges will be similar, and will have to address the following questions (amongst others):

  • What is the strategy for the content?

  • Your platform needs to offer mechanisms for content migration AND crawling.  Some organizational knowledge is where it should reside and crawling it will allow you to surface that knowledge without moving it.  Migration requires an easy-to-use tool and a clear set of expectations and instructions for teams that want to have their content migrated, thus minimizing your involvement in the process.

  • How will you support/change their current processes?

  • Discovery and capture may be a broad description of what any team should have knowledge processes around. However, the specifics of what the captured data looks like, where it is surfaced, and the entire mindset around what constitutes good content may vary greatly. Do these differences matter?  What taxonomic alignment is needed, or is reasonable, to enable the best possible discovery?  You will need to have a clear set of guidelines, recommendations, and expectations that address these questions.  Moreover, your platform will need a technical way to address taxonomic needs of on-boarded groups.  This can be as simple as finding a suitable match (Product, Platform, Version) or significant design time to integrate disparate taxonomies.

  • How do you educate the new group’s management and individual contributors about obtaining the most from your platform?

  • There is a marketing aspect to the success of your program, and the easier it is to learn about your platform’s existence and offerings; the easier it is to sell their management on moving to your platform.  Additionally, training materials for all of your recommended knowledge roles, as well as, training modules that on-boarded groups can easily modify and integrate into their own required training materials will be needed.

  • What additional applications will require knowledge integration?

  • More on this in the next section.


It is important to make sure that everyone can discover the knowledge they need when and wherethey need it.  At the same time Knowledge Management (KM) solutions are being consolidated other teams are consolidating ticketing systems, content management systems, etc.  Also, though you may not know for sure where technology is heade, you can be certain you will want to add a dash of knowledge.

Whatever knowledge solution you have selected, make certain the solution’s Application Programming Interfaces (API) gives access to all core features. Those APIs probably will be more closely aligned with the tool than your business requirements and coding practices, making an abstraction layer necessary to:

  • Make it easier for you to swap your knowledge tool out in the future (or a system that is integrated to it)

  • Enable you to follow your coding practices
  • Bundle what the tool sees as multiple requests into what integrating systems would want to see as a single request. For example: System X wants search results for a particular context and question, but in your platform this translates to resolving the context for a meaningful set of taxonomic values prior to performing the search

Typically this implies the use of a service bus or other integration platform.  It’s imperative to develop a clearly defined set of services that you want to offer, paired with clear documentation on how those services are enjoyed.  When, for example, a new e-commerce solution rolls in, and key knowledge elements on product pages must be shown; developers should be able to discover your services and how to work with them on their own.

Platform Maintenance

Depending on the environment, an untended garden will become madly overgrown and challenging to navigate or it will wither to nothing. The same can be true of your knowledge platform.  From an IT perspective this is defined by:

  • A well-defined process for resolving defects as well as scheduling enhancements
  • Good communication lines with the business owners to keep up with expected changes on how the platform will be used
  • Knowing how to monitor system health
  • Having a clear process and trigger for scaling

From a business perspective, maintenance means having feedback loops that are actively being monitored and acted upon. 


At the business unit level, feedback loops around content and discovery quality are required.  Your platform must offer a mechanism for capturing this feedback, acting upon it, and letting the person that left the feedback know what happened.  There will also be desired actions coming out of this feedback that can only be achieved at the platform level. How to raise tickets against your system must be clearly defined along with the SLAs around those tickets. 

You should proactively look for opportunities to improve your platform AND those improvements should be entered into the same ticketing system/release cycle as those coming from your business units.  Everyone should have the ability to view these tickets, with the goal to decrease redundant tickets.  Take advantage of the social opportunity presented here and give your community the option to vote on enhancements.

Another feedback loop comes from a robust business intelligence practice connected to your knowledge platform.  Business units should easily be able to identify and respond to content gaps, issues in their workflow, determine level of utilization, and more.  At the enterprise level you need to easily locate search tuning issues, groups showing lower levels of platform utilization, growing contact channels, etc.  Thinking through your business intelligence needs up front is critical to knowing whether or not you have been successful.


Some of the actions coming out of your feedback channels will be items that require IT involvement.  Whether that is a performance concern, new service offering, UI tweak, patch, or some other issue that requires server access; having a clearly defined process around these changes assures the most stable possible environment for your end users. 

Any software a company implements must be monitored and have a plan for scaling with use. This is especially in the case of KM, because there are an ever increasing number of touch points. Also, because you are building a platform that it is so easy for new teams to jump on to, your KM platform should be within one of your IT group’s top support tiers.    


In summary, you will want to minimize the barriers to adoption and pay attention to the health of your system if you want a chance for successful enterprise knowledge management.  Minimizing barriers to adoption means having your integration points, assets, and culture clearly defined and well publicized.

We welcome your opinions and feedback on this Blog article.

  • What are your experiences and challenges around driving enterprise adoption of your knowledge platform?

  • What resources and tools are you considering to help you move above and beyond your current capabilities?

By Chris Mengel
Chief Architect, Infogain



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