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Professional Development

6 Tips for Unifying Scattered Knowledge

In today's fast-paced project environments, the challenge of managing scattered knowledge has become more prevalent than ever.

A frazzled project manager sits in front of her computer screen, enveloped by a complex maze that speaks to the notion of trying to track down scattered data and knowledge across a multitude of platforms, apps and tools.

For experienced project managers, navigating through a maze of information stored across different workplace management systems can be a daunting task. The efficiency of project delivery heavily relies on the team's ability to access and utilize knowledge effectively.

This disconnected data is a key frustration of many project and program managers. A common complaint is the excessive time spent searching for information, because the knowledge they need is scattered across multiple locations, files, and platforms.

A study by Cornell University and Qatalog found that managers and employees spend 20% of the typical work day searching messaging channels, navigating project management boards, and sifting through online storage services. That translates to a whopping 10.4 work weeks a year.

6 out of 10 people say it's difficult to keep track of information flowing across various applications.

—Workgeist Report, Cornell University's Ellis Idea Lab & Qatalog

Read on for six actionable tips to combat these frustrations.

Solutions for Unifying Scattered Knowledge

1. Leverage AI-Enhanced Tools for Data Unification

The most promising solutions comes in the form of AI-enhanced tools and advanced search technology. Tools using this type of technology is a fast growing market and will transform how we work. From ClickUp to Asana to hundreds of AI plug-ins, many companies are rushing to enhance our ability to manage projects using artificial intelligence.

Most of these tools, however, are simply adding a shallow layer of AI-functionality over top of an existing tool. While this functionality can certainly be useful, it does not unify scattered knowledge.

"I mean, honestly, chasing down an accurate description of where we are can take hours."

—Katie R, Sr. Technical Program Manager

The platforms doing it best are combining AI with cross-platform, advanced search technology. This powerful combination enables teams to truly unify information scattered across multiple tools, do it faster, and without having to change or reduce their existing apps.

QTalo is one such AI-enhanced app. Developed in collaboration with over 200 project and program managers, QTalo's Smart Updates generates real time status updates. It gathers all the information from ticketing tools and conversations happening in chats, emails, and documentation tools, then generates concise updates in mere minutes —saving teams hours of time every week.

Other apps of interest are AI-powered search tools like Glean, GoSearch, IBM Watson Discovery, and Bard's plugin that let users both search and ask questions of their scattered data.

2. Establish A Centralized Information Hub

If you have the luxury of being able to establish a centralized information hub, this can be a cornerstone of overcoming the issues caused by scattered knowledge. A digital dashboard or project management tool that integrates various data sources can dramatically streamline information flow is ideal. This central hub should be the go-to place for all project-related documents, updates, and communications. It reduces confusion by providing a single source of truth, ensuring that everyone on the team has access to the same information at the same time.

Tools like ClickUp, Asana, Monday.com, or Trello can be customized to serve this purpose, offering features like task management, file sharing, and real-time updates.

3. Implement a Robust Documentation Process

The backbone of effective knowledge management is a robust documentation process. Clear, accessible, and up-to-date documentation ensures that vital information is captured and available to those who need it. Establish guidelines for documenting key project elements, such as decisions, processes, and updates. Encourage team members to document as they go, integrating documentation into their daily routines to minimize knowledge gaps.

Tools like Confluence, Notion, Coda, or Google Docs can facilitate real-time collaboration and version control for documentation, making it easier to maintain and update documents.

4. Encourage a Culture of Knowledge Sharing

Knowledge isn't just trapped in tools, it's siloed in the minds of your team members. Knowledge sharing should be more than a practice—it should be a part of your project team's culture. Promote an environment where team members are encouraged to share insights, learnings, and resources. This can be facilitated through regular knowledge-sharing meetings, collaborative workspaces, and team-building activities that foster open communication. Highlighting and rewarding contributions to the knowledge base can also motivate team members to share more actively.

Platforms like Figjam, Miro, Let's Roam, and Rising Team can facilitate various ways to facilitate knowledge sharing and team development, whether in-person or with remote teams.

5. Regular Team Sync-ups

Another strategy for unifying the knowledge scattered amongst the minds of your team is to hold consistent and regular team meetings. This practice is vital for keeping everyone in the loop and aligned on project goals and progress. These sync-ups facilitate open dialogue, enabling team members to share updates, challenges, and insights. They also provide an opportunity to address any discrepancies in information or understanding among team members. To maximize effectiveness, these meetings should be structured and focused, with clear agendas and follow-up actions. Encouraging active participation and open communication during these sessions ensures that knowledge is not just shared but also absorbed and applied.

Platforms like Slack, Chanty, Google Chat, Zoom, and Microsoft Teams can help your remote and hybrid teams connect.

6. Regular Training and Updates

As new tools are adopted and processes are updated, regularly train your team to ensure everyone is on the same page. Schedule training sessions, workshops, or webinars to introduce new knowledge management practices and platforms. These sessions can also serve as opportunities to refresh existing knowledge and share tips and best practices. Ensuring your team is well-informed and proficient with the tools and processes in place is key to effectively managing scattered knowledge.

Training and learning management tools like TrakStar, WeSchool, and Kallidus can help with this process.

Conclusion

Navigating the maze of scattered knowledge is a critical skill for project managers aiming for project success. By centralizing your knowledge base, implementing a robust documentation process, fostering a culture of knowledge sharing, utilizing the right tools, and ensuring regular training, you can lead your team more effectively through the complexities of today's project environments. And keep an eye out for new tools, like QTalo's Smart Updates, that combine the capabilities of cross-platform search with AI-enhanced data transformation. Implement these tips to enhance your team's productivity and project outcomes.

To get more actionable insights on managing scattered knowledge, read direct quotes from our community of project managers, and more, read our white paper “Mastering Chaos: How Successful Project Managers Overcome Challenges in the Digital Workspace.”

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