Accounting firms can now capitalize on their greatest asset – their own expertise – by easily asking and answering questions and capturing their exchanges with CCH KnowledgeConnect. KnowledgeConnect, a knowledge management system designed exclusively for accountants, allows firms to share knowledge, brainstorm, and collaborate to produce a knowledge base for operational excellence, increased value to customers and product innovation. KnowledgeConnect.
"Instead of sending an e-mail to one person and getting an answer that’s used once and then perhaps forgotten, only to be asked again by someone else, imagine asking the question in a community context, getting answers that can be discussed, rated, preserved for re-use, and flagged for update when a regulation changes," said CCH Product Manager Wendy Grice. "That’s what KnowledgeConnect does. KnowledgeConnect is all about what you know. In the end, you’ve preserved knowledge in a searchable, re-useable form that’s accessible to everyone."
"KnowledgeConnect frees up time for experts in the firm by keeping them from having to answer repetitive questions from staff members, and it also saves time because people can find answers and experts with a simple search. This solution is actually tagging expertise," Grice added.
Need for Knowledge Management
The need for managing knowledge in firms – to capture and preserve knowledge in a useful form – has been documented repeatedly in recent years.
With the "brain drain" that is now occurring in the profession as the Baby Boomers begin to retire, capturing knowledge should be a top priority – as well as making sure it is collected in a central repository that’s easily accessible to staff.
In 2008, the CCH Accounting Trends Survey found that clients want the best the firm has to offer, increasingly across a wider spectrum of needs, locations and hours. According to the survey: "Firms also must recognize that as the need for client specialization is climbing, the availability of specialists is shrinking. Additionally, there are the generational issues and the need to tap into the talent of younger professionals who thrive on social and business networking, collaboration and the creation of community."
KnowledgeConnect directly addresses these needs, providing a place where experienced professionals can share their accumulated knowledge, and where that knowledge will still be accessible anywhere and any time after they finish their active involvement with the firm. KnowledgeConnect even ties together firms that may be separated by geographic location into "knowledge communities." It supports blogs, wikis, FAQs, and other types of Web 2.0 tools to foster a sense of collaboration and keep knowledge content up to date. The solution is easy to use and organizes information in a way that is naturally intuitive.
"One of our early adopters said that he expects KnowledgeConnect to be the first place professionals go when they begin their day," Grice said.
Best Practices, Customized Rules, Federated Search
KnowledgeConnect is an ideal tool for promoting best practices within the firm and applying consistent approaches to recurring issues.
"That’s important, considering that it can take over two years to circulate a best practice throughout an organization," Grice noted.
The system easily identifies top users, or "champions," based on the number of documents published and questions answered. Users can rate the accuracy, quality and usefulness of content so that the best answers to questions are promoted for firm-wide use. KnowledgeConnect also has customizable templates to ensure all published knowledge of the same type – for example, all FAQs – is laid out in the same format.
Firms can customize rules for KnowledgeConnect, such as routing an answer or a best practice for approval before it can be published, escalating urgent questions if they have not been answered in a pre-defined amount of time, flagging of low rated items for further review and controlling who can join a community based upon their roles in the firm.
Tight integration with existing CCH applications will enable federated searching of CCH IntelliConnect, ProSystem fx Document and the CCH Support Knowledge Base in 2009 with an integration roadmap that includes other CCH and third- party products in the future.