Knowledge management maturity assessment

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A methodology to evaluate how effective an organization is in managing its knowledge assets.

Purpose and benefits

The main goal of a Knowledge Management Maturity Assessment is to assist organizations in developing a vision of where they need to be and therefor to determine areas for further improvement.


Normally knowledge management systems are different in different types of organizations and have different levels of knowledge management maturity. There are several KM maturity assessment models including the IAEA NKM Maturity assessment model which was developed for three types of nuclear organizations: NPPs, R&D organizations and Universities. Any organization planning the development of the Knowledge Management System normally asks two important questions:

  • where to start knowledge management activities from; and
  • how to measure a progress during the implementation of the knowledge management system.

Answer is very simple: it is necessary to have a tool for making assessment of knowledge management maturity. Assessment is the first step towards improvement; one can’t improve what one can’t measure – formally or informally. The assessment tool will help to discover areas where more effort is needed and to measure results of those areas where certain actions were taken. Normally knowledge management systems are different for different types of organizations, have different levels of efficiency and effectiveness and need different approaches for assuring knowledge management. Constructing the metrics to assess how effectively an organization is managing its knowledge assets is a challenging task.

Elements of KM Maturity Assessment models

The majority of methods and models which were developed for analysis and (self-) assessment of knowledge management maturity are based on the following elements:

  • Matrices and attributes grouped by categories;
  • Simple assessment scale – for measuring each category;
  • Questions simplifying dialog with and discussion among staff of organization.

KM Maturity Assessment Process

The KM Maturity Assessment process consists of the following main steps:

  1. Assessing the current status of organization or organizational unit on each KM maturity model area. The internal team (possibly with experts' assistance) should evaluate where their organization or organizational unit stands in each area of maturity model. Give voice to every member of the evaluation team.
  2. Constructing the intended target status of organization or organizational unit on each KM area. Discuss whether maturity levels are acceptable or in need of improvement. Visioning of the future KM maturity level should be defined. The organization KM strategy has to be taken into account during the construction of the future vision of KM system.
  3. Visualize the results. One of the most effective ways to stimulate a discussion and make it productive is to visualize the results of the phases 1 and 2. Various techniques can be used. The IAEA tools use a radar diagram presentation where results of both phases can be presented on one diagram.
  4. Define gaps and select areas for improvement. Based on results, gaps between the current status and desirable one can be clarified and the evaluation team can make preliminary prioritization of areas for improvements. This phase is very important and allows deciding where to focus resources on.
  5. Repeat this exercise periodically to see progress. The assessment technique can be used as a tool for measuring a progress, repeating this exercise periodically (every six – ten months) and compare results with the previous run of the assessment procedure.

Some Maturity Assessment Models

The most popular maturity models are the following:

  1. EFQM Model
  2. Collinson & Parcell’s KM self-assessment Model
  3. Siemens AG KMMM
  4. TATA Consulting 5iKM3 Model
  5. IAEA KM Maturity self-assessment method
  6. InfoSys KM Maturity Model
  7. European Model of KM Assessment
  8. David Skyrme’ Model
  9. TKCI KMmm

The IAEA NKM Maturity Assessment Model An instrument for measuring some key aspects of Knowledge Management Maturity (KMM) has been developed by the IAEA and is based upon self-assessment approach when staff members of an organization perform assessment of the organization in order to both identify the level of knowledge management maturity and to provide guidance on how to improve that level. In particular, the IAEA KMM (self-) assessment model allows to:

  • Evaluate existing knowledge management practices
  • Determine areas in need of improvement
  • Provide feedback needed for improvement is adequate
  • Ensure KM supports informed decision making (all levels)
  • Ensure KM objectives aligned with strategy
  • To communicate management goals or priorities
  • To promote and motivate desired behaviour of employees (motivate knowledge sharing etc.)
  • To stimulate learning and innovation

Assessments are used to help determine the current KM capability in an organization and to assist in identifying KM areas for future improvement. The IAEA have produced a (self-) assessment questionnaires and Excel spreadsheets specifically for operating nuclear power plants, nuclear R&D organizations and nuclear educational organizations. The IAEA model of knowledge management maturity for operating NPPs consists of 7 organizational or functional categories:

  1. Policy/Strategy
  2. Human Resource (HR) Planning and HR Processes
  3. Competence Development
  4. Methods, Procedures & Documentation Processes for Improving KM
  5. Technical (IT) Solutions
  6. Approaches to Capture/Use Tacit Knowledge
  7. KM culture/Workforce Culture Supporting KM

The structure of the IAEA model of KM maturity for nuclear R&D organization is very similar but with one additional category – “External Collaboration”. The IAEA model of KM maturity assessment for nuclear educational organization is very different from previous ones, and consists of the following categories:

  1. Policy, strategy, vision and mission of the educational organisation
  2. Capacity to deliver nuclear engineering programmes
  3. Educational Curricula
  4. Outcomes of the programme
  5. Quality and accreditation
  6. Human resource policy
  7. National and international dimensions
  8. Collaboration with industry

All categories have sets of assessment criteria (or questions) and each of them must be rated during a KM maturity assessment exercise using the model rating scale. All three IAEA models use the same 0-4 scale of rating, where 0 means lowest rating and 4 – highest. The suggested criteria and questions of the IAEA models can be modified by a nuclear organization in according with its specifics if necessary. The IAEA models of KM maturity assessment and corresponding tools in many nuclear organizations in various countries and proved their value, effectiveness and usefulness.


[1] Knowledge Management for Nuclear Industry Operating Organizations. IAEA-TECDOC-1510, 2006 [2] Planning and Execution of Knowledge Management Assist Missions For Nuclear Organizations, IAEA-TECDOC – 1586, 2008. [3] Knowledge Management for Nuclear Research and Development Organizations. IAEA-TECDOC-1675, 2012 [4] Chris Collison, Geoff Parcell. Learning to Fly: Practical Knowledge Management from Leading and Learning Organizations. 2001, 2004..

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