How To Use KPIs in Knowledge Management

I’ve always been wary of KPIs in knowledge management, because they appeal to a tangible measurement mindset that is easily distracted from the intangible and hard-to-pin down outcomes of KM efforts. I can’t tell you how may implementations I’ve seen where the measurements are diligently gathered and presented as tokens of success (number of documents, number of contributions, number of sharing sessions) when behind the metrics facade, the KM culture and rich sharing habits are as dead as a doornail.

But KPIs, used intelligently alongside “softer” evaluation techniques, do enable you to monitor progress and health in relation to your expectations as you move along your KM journey. And changes or spikes in activity or output trends can signal a need to investigate deeper. So if you take the KPIs with a big pinch of salt and remember you always have to interpret them, they can be a perfectly legitimate tool. So I sat down and wrote this guide to using KPIs.

The paper is in three sections: the first sets out some guidelines for how to use KPIs smartly. The second section gives ideas for sample sets of KPIs covering KM activities and tools as diverse as communities of practice, KM roles, and use of wikis and blogs. The third section is a template for drawing up your own sets of KPIs. The document is in Word format so you can cut and paste whatever takes your fancy (please acknowledge your source). A last word of caution: if you take the whole set of KPIs in this document, you’re taking too many! Leave some time and effort to actually do the work you’re trying to monitor.

Read the guide

4 Comments so far

Wow - That’s a great overview document of KM KPIs - very thorough and thought provoking.  One of the more challenging aspect I’ve dealt with over the years in our KM program is (was) the concept of “measurement” and how we know what impact the effort is having.  Thanks for the detailed listing.

Posted on January 04, 2008 at 02:17 AM | Comment permalink

Patrick Lambe

Glad you liked it Lee!

Posted on January 05, 2008 at 01:11 PM | Comment permalink

Patrick Lambe

There’s a good set of links to discussions of metrics for social media being maintained by Beth Kanter at

Posted on January 09, 2008 at 04:58 PM | Comment permalink

Maytag Parts

That’s a great overview document of KM KPIs - very thorough and thought provoking.

Posted on January 16, 2008 at 09:21 PM | Comment permalink

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