Constituent Engagement, Data

4 Criteria for Evaluating Agency Knowledge Management Program Effectiveness

A number of external forces are pressuring federal agencies to think long and hard about their knowledge management programs. Shrinking budgets, for one, mean that agencies must find ways to accomplish their missions with fewer resources. At the same time, an aging workforce threatens to leave agencies without the institutional knowledge that’s critical for improving productivity.

When long-tenured federal employees retire, their experience and expertise shouldn’t walk out the door with them. But that’s exactly the risk agencies face if they don’t have adequate knowledge management programs and tools in place.

To judge a knowledge management program’s effectiveness, here are four criteria for agency leaders to consider:

Does the program provide real-time value?

Knowledge management programs should provide real-time value for agencies. Rather than emphasize after-the-fact reflections, programs should enable employees to collaborate and share knowledge on-the-fly. Agency team members should have near-instant access to knowledge through collaborative tools, whether it’s internal wikis, knowledge bases, instant chat or so on.

Is the program flexible? Will it adapt to evolving conditions?

An effective knowledge management program anticipates change. In fact, a good program will induce change. For example, as productivity increases and resources are allocated to different areas of the organization, the program should follow along. It should be flexible enough to adapt when the agency requires that new skills and knowledge be developed and transferred.

How easily does the program enable access to knowledge?

The first step in effective knowledge management is to identify what knowledge needs to be documented. After it’s documented, the next step is to determine where it will be stored. The final step, and arguably the most important, is ensuring that the documented knowledge is easily accessible by those who need it.

Siloed information is a challenge for many agencies. Critical knowledge can be collected and stored, but if it can’t be transferred to the right people, the program’s effectiveness is diminished.

Do existing tools support the objective?

Standalone knowledge management solutions promise to meet agency needs, but they can also be costly and have the risk of becoming obsolete. On the other hand, agencies rarely succeed with tools that were never intended for knowledge management.

A key question for agency leaders is whether existing tools already have specific applications for knowledge management. In other words, can the tools they use for other initiatives be easily integrated into knowledge management programs?

Knowledge management can seem complicated, but with Atlassian, it doesn’t have to be. For more insight on developing effective knowledge management programs that leverage flexible technologies, visit

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