KM Maturity

How far advanced is your organization's knowledge management practice? There are now several KM Maturity models that help you position your KM development. Amongst the most well known are these two:

  • Infosys Maturity Model - developed by Vivekanand Kochikar of the the Indian Software House. It is based upon the Capability Maturity Model for software. It has 5 levels - defulat, reactive, aware, convinced, sharing.
  • KPMG Maturity Model - first used in a 1999 survey of KM practitioners. It sought evidence of use of 14 practices in four categories - people, processes, content and technology. It's five levels (with percentages of organizations at each from the survey results) are knowledge-chaotic (43%), knowledge-aware, knowledge-enabled (32% at these two levels), knowledge-managed (10%), knowledge-centric (1%).

Below we present our maturity model, based on analysis of many KM programmes. There is also an accompanying assessment tool.

km maturity curve

This is an idealized representation in that:

  • Timescales are indicative - it is not uncommon for it to take many more years to reach cohesion, while the higher stages may seem ever distant
  • Phases overlap in that some activities occur out of sequence, e.g. some cohesion activities can start as soon as a formal programme starts
  • Organizations can regress - we know of several companies that were close to the 'integrated' stage, yet lost their KM focus and back-tracked.

The Phases Described

  • Ad-hoc: KM exists in pockets across the organization; people practicing KM in one part of the organization are often unaware of similar practices elsewhere
  • A formal programme: typically initiated as a corporate initiative, though it may only be division-wide; a focus is created to gain commitment and funds
  • Expanding: there is a growing network of KM projects, some enterprise-wide projects and most likely a forum or community where KM practitioners share their experiences
  • Cohesion: there is greater sharing of methods and standards across projects; typically there is a corporate steering body, such as a programme board
  • Integrated: with main business and management processes e.g. planning, measurement, performance, new initiatives (which can't kick-off until prove that existing knowledge has been tapped); you know you are here when knowledge and KM are explicitly addressed in corporate, division, team and individual plans and objectives
  • Embedded:into behaviours, culture, procedures etc.; KM may be invisible since it happens without thinking or is built seamlessly into organization processes and systems.

And remember - many organizations may be practicing KM somewhere along the curve, but don't call it that! Typical guises are "sharing best practice", "innovating with our customers", "the learning organization".

The Concept in Practice

Evaluating where you are on the KM maturity curve is best used when benchmarking against your peers in other organizations. It is also a useful complement to other KM assessment tools for establishing a baseline, developing and prioritizing KM projects and for measuring year-on-year progress.

Coming soon: A self-assessment tool based on this model.

Last updated: 1st March 2011


Looking for practical guidance?

km roadmap Our KM roadmap takes you through the various stages of a knowledge management programme and gives helpful tips based on two decades of our experience.


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