KM Self-assessment

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The process of conducting an assessment of knowledge management maturity within the own organization and by its own staff


A Self-Assessment is a valuable tool to help determine the current intellectual capital (IC) needs, including human capital (competencies in people), structural capital (policies, formal and informal processes, data and information owned by the organisation) and relation capital (relationships the organisation has with other organisations and individuals) in order to assist in identifying areas for future improvement, thus providing the basis for the formulation of KM strategies and policies. IAEA has developed a practical self-assessment tool adaptable to the type of the organization containing a questionnaire and a spreadsheet with graphical presentation of the results.


A Self-Assessment is a valuable tool to help determine the current KM capability in an organization and to assist in identifying KM areas for future improvement, thus providing the basis for the formulation of NKM strategies and policies. It may be initially performed when exploring the possibility of introducing the KM concepts, methodologies and tools, or as an ongoing continous effort to verify the improvements of the KM system and the KM maturity level of the organization.

The IAEA has produced a self-assessment questionnaire which is adaptable to different organization types, and provides an Excel-spreadsheet to conduct the self-assessment in groups and to evaluate the results of the assessment in a graphical form.

The self-assessment is performed in relation to the key elements in KM. These key elements may vary according to the type of the organization. Indeed, a preliminary stage previous to conducting the self-assessment may be necessary in order to adapt the self-assessment questions to the specific situation and needs of the organization. For this purpose, an organization planning to conduct a self-assessment should consider requesting help from IAEA, e.g. in form of an assist mission. The process for required to initiate this can be found in Ref. [1].

The self-assessment may be performed on different organizational levels. When considering the implementation of a KM system in the organization, the targeted audience will primarily consist of high and upper level management. Self-assessments may also be conducted on unit levels, particularly for recurrent self-assessments with the aim of improving KM performance. The self-assessment questionnaire is best used in a group or workshop environment and can be completed by collecting responses from a number of people who are knowledgeable with regards to the organization’s activities and future goals.

Fig. 1 Example output

As a result of the self-assessment, the radar graphs shows the distance between the target and the actual value for each of the key elements (see the example output in Fig. 1, indicating the aereas where the KM level is sufficient (or even overachieved), and aereas where improvement is needed. This will guide the implementation of the KM system resp. of new or additional features.

Self-assessment as a basis for developing a KM strategy

A self-assessment, possibly aided by external experts from IAEA or other institutions, usually provides a good starting point for developing the KM strategy. The self assessment shows the difference between the current state of KM maturity and the desired level, to which KM should be developed. Following the steps outlined in KM strategy, a suitable approach (either top-down or bottom-up) should be chosen, followed by the specification of objectives. In KM strategy, the items to be considered in developing a strategy are described in more detail, as well as the outline of a proposed structure for the strategy document. The KM strategy, together with policies developed within it, provides a sound foundation for the implementation of knowledge management.


Examples of the self-assessment questionnaire have been published in [1], [2] or will be published in the publications treating organization-specific KM. The example from [1] is shown here: KM Assessment Tool


[1] INTERNATIONAL ATOMIC ENERGY AGENCY, Planning and Execution of Knowledge Management Assist Missions For Nuclear Organizations, IAEA- TECDOC-1586, IAEA, Vienna (2008)

[2] INTERNATIONAL ATOMIC ENERGY AGENCY, Knowledge Management for Nuclear Research and Development Organizations, IAEA- TECDOC-1675, IAEA, Vienna (2012)

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