Cost of lost knowledge could be $47 million per year

Large businesses can lose $47 million each year due to poor KM, claims a recent report

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English Currency by Images Money on Flickr

That is the claim of the Panopto Workplace Knowledge and Productivity Report, a recent report based on a survey of 1000 US workers

Here are some highlights from the report

  • US business loses $47 million in productivity each year as a direct result of inefficient knowledge sharing. This is the median result – large businesses can lose much more, and the website provides a calcaulator to calculate your own risk;
  • U.S. knowledge workers waste 5.3 hours every week either waiting for vital information from their colleagues or working to recreate existing institutional knowledge. 
  • 42 percent of institutional knowledge is acquired specifically for the employee’s current role and is not shared by any of their coworkers. 
  • When that employee leaves their job or is otherwise unavailable, their coworkers are unable to do 42 percent of that job.  
  • 60 percent of respondents found it difficult, very difficult, or nearly impossible to obtain information vital to their job from their colleagues. 
  • Delays due to unshared knowledge have a major impact on project schedules. 66 percent of all such delays will last up to one week, and 12 percent will last a month or more. 
  •  81 percent of employees report feeling frustrated when they can’t get the information they need to do their job. 
  • 85 percent of employees agree that preserving and sharing unique knowledge in the workplace is critical to increasing productivity. 
  •  81 percent of employees state that knowledge gained from hands-on experience is the hardest to replace once it’s lost. 
  •  In companies with higher turnover rates, employees were 65 percent more likely to state that that it could be “very difficult” or “nearly impossible” to “get the information needed to do my job well.” 
  •  While the average new hire receives 2.5 months of formal training, it can take up to 6 months for an employee to actually ramp up in a new role. 
  • These employees often struggle for up to 3.5 months learning the details of their job on their own, seeking out information, and inadvertently replicating work.
All of the value figures here represent efficiency losses through poor KM.
There is another set of value figures, which represent the cost of poor decisions made by people with obsolete or inaccurate knowledge; the cost of rework and the cost of mistakes that arise from those bad decisions (what we call the cost of lost knowledge). This second value figure is far harder to estimate, but is potentially much larger than the inefficiency figures mentioned above.
However when you are creating your investment case for KM, the numbers in this Panopto report may give you some useful benchmarks. 

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