Knowledge management software is a category of enterprise content management software that
focuses on collecting, storing and accessing data. The software is theoretically designed to build
knowledge out of stored information. This information is usually accessed through specialized searching
tools or aggregation tools so that the right information is easier and faster to find. Knowledge
management software packages vary from those intended for individual use to highly specialized
packages capable of serving hundreds of individuals.
There is no software that does everything needed for knowledge management—knowledge
management is an institutional program, not a software system. There are a few vendors who identify
their programs as “knowledge management” and others that provide various pieces of the knowledge
management lifecycle (e.g., storage, aggregation, and presentation). The Appendix contains a list of
examples of some common technology tools that can help develop a law department’s knowledge
management infrastructure. This list is not exhaustive and not an endorsement of any of these systems,
since all systems have their advantages and disadvantages, and e law department’s needs differ. The list
is provided for informational and illustrative purposes only.
A number of the current tools available to law departments are based in the cloud. Many law
departments are adopting cloud-based technology because of its cost efficiency and other
advantages. Others have identified concerns regarding issues such as who owns and has access
to the data, where it is located, data security and privacy provisions, backup and archiving
controls, and how the system will work with the company’s records management program,
among other things. The law department may want to negotiate terms appropriately or select
a vendor whose terms are acceptable, and consider an exit strategy to protect its data. As the
trend toward cloud-based systems grows, so does the opportunity to discuss with one’s peers
their experience with these systems. Professional organizations such as ACC may provide a good
forum for such discussions.
A knowledge management program will have no value if the knowledge isn’t being used. The collected
information should be used to aid in the department’s productivity, efficiency and quality of its work.
Knowledge management should facilitate team members’ ability to combine the stored information
with their own expertise and experience in order to make informed decisions. If the prior steps
have been thoughtfully carried out, and team members are educated regarding the systems and tools
provided, the department can develop a culture that encourages and rewards effective use of the
knowledge management program.
Tacit Knowledge Leverage
Because tacit knowledge is unique, it is discussed in a separate section of this guide. It is perhaps the
most difficult form of knowledge to capture and store because of its fluid nature. There may also
be resistance either to the concept of sharing tacit knowledge, or to the time and effort involved in
capturing and sharing it in a systematic manner.