Using wikis or blogs to manage knowledge in firms

A recent article on WebCPA confused and inspired me:

Accounting firms need to become more intelligent businesses by better leveraging the time and knowledge of their professional staff, according to a survey…

[…]

Firms with a formal knowledge management program benefited from its implementation.

Hmm… Intelligence, good. Leveraging knowledge, check. Formal knowledge management program, bingo! Wait a minute, “formal”? Why must it be formal? With all the tools kicking around these days like wikis and blogs, does knowledge management really need to be formal anymore? Was that ever the best way to manage knowledge?

I think it becomes formal, informally. Wikis are self-organizing, and great at managing knowledge bases. Look at Wikipedia — better at organizing the world’s information than Google.

Wikis aren’t great at building community or starting conversations, however. This is where blogs shine. As for knowledge management specifically, blog posts are tagged, categorized, and searchable.

By formal, what they must really mean is traditional, hierarchical, top-down, autocratic systems that mean well but end up stifling the creativity of those they were meant to help. We really don’t need any more of that in accounting firms!

So, firms: Set your knowledge (and knowledge workers) free. If it organizes itself automatically in wiki or blog form, it’s yours forever.

7 thoughts on “Using wikis or blogs to manage knowledge in firms”

  1. Interesting topic…very well put. However, in some shape form or another their is some common theme to knowledge management. It’s just slightly personalized.

  2. Although knowledge management need not become formalized, the tools need to be implemented at the firm level so that communications regarding pertinent matters are facilitated in a way that protects confidential information but also allows maximum collaboration. You’re right that formalizing the system will stifle its intent, but if by formalize, they mean to implement a structured set of tools across the firm, then they need to “formalize” their knowledge management.

  3. Thanks Helen, I try to be as concise as possible. :)

    “Good things, when short, are twice as good.” – Graci├ín

    Shane, I agree to your definition. A structured set of tools across the firm. I just think blogs are structured enough and add another valuable element.

  4. Neil –

    Spot on, and I couldn’t agree with you more. In the company that I work for, we implemented blogs about 2 years ago for certain knowledge capture and the blog and its content continue to develop nicely to this day.

    About six weeks ago, I had a wiki brought up online for a service project, and it has caught on famously.

    The other nice thing about these tools are that they a) have a low cost of entry, and b) are ease of use.

    Thanks for the thoughts

    Tom

  5. Tom – It’s great to hear your company has been using blogs (internally I’m assuming) for a couple of years already! Consider me your newest RSS subscriber.

  6. Neil –

    Thanks for the response.

    Just to keep this chain going…we actually have 4 blogs going with different purposes…2 are actually customer facing – for suggestions and a Q & A section…it allows for interactivity.

    The other 2 blogs are internal, and the wiki is internal, although we have already had a few suggestions on an external wiki.

    They are great tools…I’m a big believer.

    I look forward to your continued thoughts on managing knowledge for accountants.

    Tom

Comments are closed.