Knowledge Audits

Brief Description

A knowledge audit is an effort to understand where an organization stands in terms of knowledge management and its knowledge assets. In the earlier days of KM (around the millennium) where knowledge was still treated as a transferable good, the image of “stocktaking” of knowledge assets dominated the picture.

“A Knowledge audit should be the first step in any Knowledge Management initiative. Properly done, it would provide accurate identification, quantification, measurement and assessment of the sum total of tacit and explicit knowledge in the organization” (Ann Hylton, 2002).

“Knowledge audit assesses what knowledge assets are possessed by a specific organization. By knowing what knowledge is possessed, it is possible to find the most effective method of storage and dissemination” (Liebowitz, 2000).

A knowledge audit in that sense is the process to identify every knowledge produced by an organization, who produce and use it, how frequent is the knowledge used, and where is the knowledge stored.

As KM shifted away from a materialistic few of knowledge as a transferable good, towards approaches that favored networking and organizational culture, the idea of stocktaking was applied in addition to the overall knowledge needs of organizations (knowledge needs assessment), as well as readiness of an organization for knowledge sharing, which included aspects like knowledge flows, networks, technology, etc.

In their book “Learning to Fly” Chris Collison and Goeff Parcell provide a “KM Self Assessment” tool to help an organization understand their state of KM along the dimensions "KM strategy", "Leadership behaviour", "Networking", "Learning before, during and after" and "Capturing knowledge".

When to use

Before starting a knowledge management initiative or project, or as preparatory phase to developing a knowledge management strategy. A knowledge audit can also be useful when senior management is not willing to embark on any knowledge management initiatives without a proven business rationale or need, which the results of a knowledge audit can often provide.

How to use

A knowledge audit is usually a combination of different methods to gather relevant data:
  • Online surveys
  • Focus group discussions
  • Interviews with key stakeholders, knowledge workers, KM focal points, senior management and clients
  • Workflow and business processes analysis
  • Content analysis
  • IT systems analysis

Tips and Lessons Learnt

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Examples & Stories

(add your story)

Who can tell me more?

  • Johannes Schunter (johannes.schunter [at]

Related Methods / Tools / Practices

  • Knowledge needs assessment


“On The Use Of A Diagnostic Tool For Knowledge Audits”
by Ravi Sharma, Naguib Chowdhury
in Journal of Knowledge Management Practice, Vol. 8, No. 4, December 2007

“Auditing knowledge management practices: model and application”
by Handzic, Meliha; Lagumdzija, Amila; Celjo, Amer
in Knowledge Management Research & Practice, Volume 6, Number 1, March 2008 , pp. 90-99(10)

“A KM initiative is unlikely to succeed without a knowledge audit”
by Ann Hylton

“Knowledge Management Audit - a methodology and case study”
by Thomas Lauer and Mohan Tanniru

“The Knowledge Audit”
by Jay Liebowitz
in Knowledge and Process Management, Volume 7, Issue 1, pages 3–10, January/March 2000;2-0/abstract

“Learning to Fly”
by Chris Collison and Geoff Parcell


knowledge audit, knowledge needs assessment, knowledge strategy

Photo or image credits

Page Authors

  • Johannes Schunter (johannes.schunter [at]