Organisations gather their knowledge and information from many different sources, both inside and outside of the organisation. For example, you could capture knowledge from:
- performance assessments
- market research
- customer feedback
However, a primary source of knowledge in a business is the experience that develops within it.
It is important to preserve the skills or know-how your business has built up. You need to find formal ways of sharing your employees' knowledge about the best ways of doing things. For example, you might create procedural guidance based on your employees' best practice. See create a knowledge strategy for your business.
Employee and supplier relationships
You can capture knowledge by seeking the opinions of your employees and your suppliers - they'll have their own opinions on how your business is performing. You can use formal surveys to gather this knowledge or ask for their views on a more informal basis. See how to lead and motivate your staff and manage your suppliers.
You should understand your customers' needs and what they think of you. You may be able to develop knowledge sharing with customers that is mutually beneficial. Talk to them about their future requirements and see how this knowledge can help you research and develop ideas, new products and services.
Watch developments in your business sector. How are your competitors performing? How much are they charging? Are there any new entrants to the market? Have any significant new products been launched? Try to understand your competitors and use market research and market reports to develop your understanding of the industry you operate it.
Knowledge of the business environment
Developments in politics, the economy, technology, society and the environment could all affect your business' development, so you need to keep yourself informed. You could consider setting up a team to monitor and report on changes in the business world. See how to inform and consult your employees.
Professional associations and trade bodies
Get information from publications, academic publications, government publications, reports from research bodies, trade and technical magazines. Search for a trade association.
Trade exhibitions and conferences
These can provide an easy way of finding out what your competitors are doing and to see the latest innovations in your business sector. Read about trade shows and exhibitions to find out how to get the most out of them.
Product research and development
Scientific and technical research and development can be a vital source of knowledge that can help you create innovative new products - retaining your competitive edge. See how to use innovation to start or grow your business.
Recruiting non-executive directors can be a good way for you to bring on board specialised industry experience and benefit from ready-made contracts. See recruiting directors.
Collaboration between businesses and associated institutions
Groups of businesses or associated institutions with common interests - known as clusters - sometimes join forces in order to share knowledge. For more information, see business growth through collaboration.