Is it necessary to be certified in knowledge management?

Enhancement, preservation and internal dissemination of employees’ knowledge and expertise… Managing knowledge is essential for companies at both the strategic and operational levels. For example, Harwell Management, a consulting firm, has just obtained ISO 30401 certification.

It is the first management consulting firm in Europe to be certified ISO 30401 for its knowledge management system. Harwell Management has nurtured and developed this expertise since its formation in 2009. As explained by Christophe Da Cunha, co-founder and CEO: “Our primary motivation has always been knowledge: tangible knowledge, which comes from our employees, and intangible knowledge, which provides our clients with specialized expertise on subjects that interest them or that will emerge. And so it made sense to ask a trustworthy third party if we were on the right track in terms of work organization and process.” The audit carried out by AFNOR UK took place over three days in December 2020, resulting in certification.

Although voluntary standard ISO 30401 only dates from 2018 (included in the French collection in 2019) and is still relatively unknown, “it meets a growing demand worldwide from large international groups and consulting firms specializing in knowledge management,” said auditor Ian Hart. A discipline that is anything but superficial according to Pascal de Lima, Chief Economist with Harwell Management: “We sell knowledge via ‘attraction products’ (articles, offers, pitches, conferences, training sessions, newsletters, etc.) organized around KM 360, a key tool in our business [KM: knowledge management, editor’s note]. This allows us, for example, to capitalize on feedback from our consultants, gather business intelligence, allocate roles correctly, etc. And our employees’ skills are growing. “

ISO 30401 certification: an essential lever for attractiveness

From spring 2020, Harwell Management made thorough preparation for certification. “We reviewed our formalization and description of the entire ecosystem deployed over the years, such as the multi-year knowledge management programme,” said Director of Operations Thierry Siret. “We based our work on the standard’s breakdown, which allowed us to get ahead of the game and complete 80% of the work early. However, as regards continual improvement of the programme, we had to put actions in place and measure them regularly, as our actions were not as formalized as the standard requires.” Ultimately the consulting firm now has assurance that the work done, the processes and the tools are going in the right direction.

Having obtained this certification, the consulting firm now has strongly endorsed recognition, which in turn increases employee satisfaction. It is also an essential lever for attracting new recruits who see it as proof of Harwell Management’s professionalism in its field of expertise. Lastly, certification is an additional asset for the company’s customers, and is particularly important in terms of being referenced as a supplier by major purchasers such as banks or insurance companies. While it is still too early to measure the impact of obtaining ISO 30401, the outlook seems very positive.

© Harwell/DR