4 Knowledge Management Challenges (& How to Overcome Them)

Marcel Deer - Writer for Unleash
By Marcel Deer
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Edited by Milica Pešić

Published September 28, 2023.

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Knowledge management leverages information to create value for the organization rather than just storing it. As far back as 2012, Fortune 500 companies were losing roughly $31.5 billion a year by failing to share knowledge effectively.

Businesses may struggle with knowledge management problems because not all of them are equipped to create, preserve, and distribute knowledge among employees. Only 9% of the organizations surveyed by Deloitte in 2020 were ready to tackle the challenges of knowledge management.

Understanding Knowledge Management

Before tackling its problems, we must answer the question, “What is knowledge management?” It is how an organization collects, sorts, manages, and distributes information.

Knowledge falls into three broad categories:

  • Explicit
  • Implicit
  • Tacit

Each type of knowledge has its own intrinsic value and is essential for boosting organizational productivity and efficiency.

How to Overcome Knowledge Management Challenges

So, what are the challenges of knowledge management that every organization faces?

Every organization faces unique knowledge management problems. However, most enterprises encounter the following issues.

1. Information Silos

Accessing information when needed is crucial for its usefulness. However, it's common for departments to gather new data but not share it with the larger organization.


Software testers are becoming aware of a bug but neglect to inform the customer relations team. This results in dissatisfied customers and loss of business over time.

Information silos like these can impede internal collaboration and productivity within the organization.

✶ Learn more about building an effective internal communications strategy

2. Lack of a Centralized Repository

A knowledge library is information and data an organization uses to conduct business. However, when that is decentralized and spread over many nodes, finding the relevant information at the right time becomes cumbersome.

Since information is scattered in many places, important decisions are made without reviewing necessary data. Lack of a central platform for accessing company knowledge affects problem-solving and decision-making.

3. Knowledge Loss and Turnover

Tacit knowledge is the information and insights an employee acquires through experience, not instruction. It is an abstract form of knowledge that can be hard to codify. Think of how a department can suddenly be in disarray when an experienced manager steps down.

A knowledge management system that catalogs this type of knowledge can mitigate the negative effects of losing employees.

4. Resistance to Sharing Knowledge

The natural tendency of people to hoard information is one of the biggest challenges in knowledge management. Knowing exclusive information makes people feel important and indispensable. Organizations need to curb these tendencies among their employees by fostering a culture of openness and sharing within their teams.

Strategies to Overcome Knowledge Management Challenges

This section deals with how to overcome knowledge management challenges. The practices listed below lead to better knowledge management within an organization.

1. Implementing Knowledge Management Systems

Companies have access to numerous technological tools that centralize and make information more accessible. These tools include software such as document managers, enterprise search engines, and content databases.

They all contribute to democratizing information access within the organization in their own unique ways.

2. Creating Knowledge Sharing Incentives

It is important for companies to consistently promote the sharing of knowledge among employees. Employees can exchange information with their peers through mentorship programs, town hall meetings, and one-on-one interviews, providing various opportunities.

By fostering an environment of openness, the organization's knowledge base can expand and improve.

3. Documentation and Training

Your organization should accurately document every activity or initiative for its knowledge library. Train your employees to document their work processes in a shareable format for co-workers and new hires.

✶ Discover the missing element in your internal knowledge base software

4. Leadership and Cultural Shift

The most effective method for improving corporate culture is to begin with the leaders. When leaders exhibit behavior that promotes knowledge-sharing and transparent communication with their team, it encourages a shift toward better knowledge management from the top down.

Embracing a Better Knowledge Management Future

Businesses can benefit greatly from a better knowledge management strategy. It can improve efficiency, identify knowledge gaps, facilitate informed decision-making, and encourage internal collaboration.

Enterprise Search: The Key to Knowledge Management

Enterprise search tools are essential for efficient knowledge management.

Unleash helps your organization by searching through every folder and application in your knowledge library within seconds, empowering employees to make choices based on reliable information.