10 questions to ask when outsourcing knowledge management processes

Knowlegde management

We live in an economy driven by knowledge. Moreover, digitization has made information the lifeblood of most businesses today. In their pursuit to win when met with various competitive pressures, these businesses seek relevant information and insights to make sound decisions. Such knowledge lies hidden both within and outside the company. Here’s where knowledge management processes come in. Simply put, these processes involve the art of capturing, analyzing, and delivering decision-driving information to businesses.

In an effort to optimize resource efficiency and profitability, companies prefer outsourcing their knowledge management needs. Why? Firstly, because it allows them to better focus on their core competencies and respond promptly to customer needs. Secondly, because hiring and retaining a highly-skilled workforce for such data-driven tasks comes at no small price. Thirdly, they can be assured of quality deliveries at considerably quick turnarounds.

These reasons have typically been the breeding ground for KPOs or knowledge process outsourcing as a service. KPOs are highly diversified in services like data management, research, analytics, employee training, publishing, remote logistics and procurement, marketing and sales support, and business consulting, among others. Being so versatile, finding the right match to your knowledge management needs can be challenging. To find the most valuable provider and prevent costly mistakes, including these questions in the selection process is crucial:

1. What is your knowledge management approach?

Understanding how your service provider plans to source, cleanse, validate, enrich, tag, and integrate your data is critical assets. The answer should ideally assure you of systematic classification and cataloging for search ease and intuitive access across the firm. A good knowledge management service provider will help link data needs and objectives to the right systems. As for external data sources, checking if they have access to premium databases will also help lower your research budgets considerably.

2. Does the team have the required qualifications/expertise to do the job?

Knowledge management processes rely highly on the breadth and depth of professional and technical expertise. Depending on the task at hand, it’s important to check if your potential vendor is fitted with the ideal stock of resources. For instance, if the job involves communicating with stakeholders and data analysis, they need to have good writing skills and the required statistical expertise.

Depending on the domains they serve, a KPO’s skilled resources could range from journalists, engineers, architects, economists, lawyers to MBA graduates among others. Check if they provide in-house upskilling and support employees pursuing further technical and educational qualifications. Also, do they allow employees to move between geographies or verticals? And what are their recruitment and retention strategies?  

3. What data security and governance measures will be employed?

As regulatory and legal constructs differ across geographies, knowledge management service providers need to comply with these requirements based on their client’s locations. To ensure minimum organizational risk, companies that transfer tacit knowledge need to actively identify what data security measures are already in place. What kind of IT/Network Security protocol/ compliance practices do they follow? It’s important to check if these align with your company’s standards. Also, check if the service provider offers adequate confidentiality clauses to secure your IP, innovation, and R&D assets. Apart from this, evaluating service quality certifications, global recognition of standards, domain-specific qualifications (like Series 7 certification for financial securities) will help shortlist your potential vendors further.

4. What kind of technologies do you use?      

Technology plays an important role in knowledge management processes on three accounts. Firstly, in assessing the delivery accuracy, efficacy, and reliability when executing certain automated processes and analytical functions. Secondly, in understanding the scope and scale at which e-learning/ training programs can be implemented to educate your own internal resources. Thirdly, evaluate the possibilities of an advanced knowledge management system that encourages contribution, accelerates responsiveness, and permeates innovation across functions and locations.

5. Have you worked with clients in the same domain in the past?

KPOs with a strong pedigree matured in a specific domain, and acquainted with its best practices, are better equipped to offer advanced knowledge management solutions. Such service providers possess an array of standardization methodologies and effective reporting structures tailored to stakeholder-specific needs. A KPO’s service portfolio and industry-based revenue breakup can also divulge these answers.

6. What kind of engagement models do you support?

Most KPOs offer engagement models on an hourly basis. These would typically be:

  • Full-time equivalents (FTEs) or dedicated resource models: For highly-demanding and skill-intensive tasks required at quicker turnarounds
  • Retainer models: For long-term and comprehensive assignments with relatively flexible timelines
  • Ad-hoc models: For sporadic knowledge needs with fixed timelines

Depending on your scope of work, budget, and timelines you can discuss this with your potential vendor and figure the best model to meet your needs.

7. What kind of reporting capabilities do you have?

Whether customized dashboards, PowerPoint presentations, excel sheets, or periodic e-newsletters, it’s important to be aware of the modes of reporting that a provider can offer. This will help reduce future communication gaps and lay out clear expectations for both parties.

8. Can you work according to our company’s time zone, if required?

A major share of knowledge management engagements is outsourced from European countries and North America to Asian countries like India and China. The time difference serves as a strategic advantage allowing KPOs to serve multiple time zones with the potential for a 24-hour workday. Plus, as a client, you won’t even have to pay for overtime. Check with your vendor if they are disposed towards such operational flexibility.

9. What is the average response time?

Setting clear TAT standards from the get-go will help rule out any performance misalignments from the provider and help your firm drive timely business decisions. In some cases, a KPO would even be open to set-up delivery centers closer to your location to accelerate deliveries.

10. How quickly can you scale your workforce?

The provider’s ability to scale up its resources in tandem with your growing knowledge needs can help you make quicker business decisions. Understanding how predisposed they are to the possibility will help you plan better for future scope of work.

KPOs are a boon to organizations looking for low-risk, affordable, and quality knowledge processing solutions. The ultimate goal is to disseminate valuable and reliable information that helps maintain business agility and market resilience. A bevy of industry magnates across domains has sought Netscribes’ knowledge management solutions to improve their business productivity and steer both organic and inorganic growth possibilities. To know how we can help you streamline and enhance your knowledge management processes, contact us at info@netscribes.com

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