PKM for Business

How to use PKM (personal knowledge management) as an employee or manager in business settings, plus tools to try.


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9 minute read

In today’s world, if you want to succeed, you need to manage knowledge effectively whether you’re a student, professional, or entrepreneur.

A reliable system to capture, organize, and retrieve information can make all the difference in achieving your goals.

This is where Personal Knowledge Management (PKM) comes into play. By implementing a PKM system, you can take control of your knowledge, boost your productivity, and unlock new opportunities for growth and innovation.

What is Personal Knowledge Management (PKM)?

Personal Knowledge Management (PKM) is a personalized system of gathering, categorizing, and sharing the knowledge and information you encounter. It enables you to make sense of vast amounts of data and insights and use that knowledge effectively to achieve your goals.

Imagine having a trusted friend who always remembers the important things you’ve learned, your brilliant ideas, and the valuable resources you’ve discovered. That’s essentially what a PKM system does for you. It’s a reliable companion, ensuring you never lose track of the knowledge that matters most.

By implementing a PKM system, you can:

  • Capture and store valuable information from various sources
  • Organize your knowledge in a way that makes sense to you
  • Quickly retrieve information you need when you need it
  • Share your knowledge with others and collaborate more effectively

In essence, PKM is about empowering yourself to make the most of the knowledge you acquire, transforming it into a valuable asset that supports your personal and professional growth.

Is accounting your business? Read more about how PKM applies specifically to accounting here.

What’s the difference between knowledge management and personal knowledge management?

While knowledge management (KM) and personal knowledge management (PKM) share some similarities, there are key differences between the two concepts. Here’s a table to help illustrate the differences:

Knowledge Management (KM)Personal Knowledge Management (PKM)
ScopeCompany-wide effortIndividual-driven approach
FocusCapturing, storing, and sharing knowledge among employeesManaging personal knowledge and information
SystemsCentralized systems like intranets or knowledge basesPersonalized systems tailored to individual needs
ManagementManaged by dedicated teamsSelf-managed by individuals
AnalogyCompany-wide libraryPersonal library

While KM and PKM have different scopes and approaches, they can complement each other. By encouraging employees to develop their PKM practices, organizations can foster a culture of continuous learning and knowledge sharing, ultimately benefiting the company.

Why every employee at a company should have a PKM system

In today’s fast-paced, knowledge-driven workplace, having a personal knowledge management system is no longer a luxury—it’s a necessity. Regardless of role or experience level, every employee can benefit from implementing a PKM system. Here’s why:

The normal benefits of a PKM system

Imagine working on a project and suddenly realizing you need to refer to a document you created months ago. Without a PKM system, you might spend hours digging through folders and files to locate the needed information. With a PKM system, you can quickly and easily retrieve the document, saving yourself time and frustration.

A PKM system keeps you organized by providing a centralized location for all your important files, notes, and resources. You can access your information from anywhere, at any time, without relying on your memory or scattered notes. This increased efficiency and ease of access can improve productivity and better decision-making.

It also stops you from looking like Charlie here.

Documentation and transfer of knowledge

Now, let’s consider a scenario where your boss urgently needs information about a project you’ve been working on. If you have a well-maintained PKM system, you can quickly provide your boss with the necessary details, demonstrating your reliability and competence.

Unless you’d prefer all those post-its above?

But what happens if you decide to leave the company? Without a PKM system, all the knowledge and expertise accumulated during your tenure could be lost. By documenting your processes, insights, and lessons learned in your PKM, you can ensure a smooth transition when it’s time to pass on your responsibilities to a colleague or successor.

You know, once your boss sees what a rockstar you are and gives you a promotion!

Moreover, by sharing your knowledge through your PKM, you contribute to your organization’s overall knowledge base. This knowledge-sharing fosters collaboration, innovation, and continuous improvement, benefiting not only your colleagues but the company as a whole.

In short, a PKM system is an invaluable tool for every employee. It enables them to work more efficiently, demonstrate their value, and contribute to their organization’s collective knowledge.

Related reading: Get that promotion by learning how to leverage PKM for Career Growth here.

PKM tools for work?

Now that we’ve established the importance of having a personal knowledge management system, you might wonder: what tools can I use to implement PKM in my work life? The good news is that plenty of options are available, ranging from simple note-taking apps to more comprehensive knowledge management platforms.

  • Evernote, OneNote, and Notion are popular note-taking apps that allow you to capture ideas, create to-do lists, and organize your thoughts in a personalized way. They offer features like tagging, searching, and syncing across devices for easy access.
  • Roam Research takes a more interconnected approach. It allows you to create bidirectional links between your notes, helping you discover new connections and insights as you work.
  • Obsidian is a powerful note-taking app that stores your notes in a local folder of plain text files. It allows you to create bidirectional links between your notes and offers features like graph visualization and customizable plugins.
  • is a note-taking and knowledge management app focusing on building a personal knowledge base. It offers features like tagging, linking, and visualizing connections between your notes.

I bet a handful of tools were even created while you read this article!

Some common PKM tools that might be used in a corporate environment

In a corporate setting, you may have access to more robust knowledge management tools. These platforms facilitate collaboration and knowledge sharing across teams and departments. Some common examples include:

  • Confluence: A collaborative workspace where teams can contribute ideas, provide feedback, and track project progress.
  • SharePoint: A web-based platform for managing and sharing an organization’s documents, data, and applications.
  • Google Workspace is a suite of cloud-based productivity tools, including Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides, that enable real-time collaboration and knowledge sharing.
  • Internal wikis: Centralized repositories for storing and organizing company knowledge, policies, and procedures.
  • Project management software: Tools like Asana, Trello, or Jira help teams plan, track, and collaborate on projects.
  • Customer relationship management (CRM) systems: Platforms like Salesforce or HubSpot that help organizations manage customer data, interactions, and relationships.

The key is to find the tools that best support your organization’s knowledge management needs and integrate them into your daily workflow.

Remember, no matter which tools you choose, the most important thing is to develop a consistent practice of capturing, organizing, and sharing your knowledge. By making PKM a habit, you’ll be well on your way to unlocking the full potential of your knowledge and expertise.

The Four Pillars of any PKM system

Every successful personal knowledge management system is built on four essential pillars: capturing, organizing, retrieving, and sharing information. By understanding and implementing these pillars, you can create a PKM system that supports your unique needs and helps you get the most out of your knowledge.

Capturing information

The first pillar of PKM is capturing information. This means having a reliable method for collecting the ideas, insights, and resources you encounter daily. Whether it’s jotting down notes during a meeting, saving an interesting article you found online, or recording a sudden burst of inspiration, capturing information is the foundation of your PKM system.

Imagine you’re attending a conference and hear a speaker share a fascinating case study. By capturing the key points and your own thoughts in your PKM tool of choice, you ensure that you won’t forget the valuable information and can refer back to it later.

Organizing information

Once you’ve captured your information, the next pillar is organizing it in a way that makes sense to you. This might involve creating folders, tags, or categories to group related pieces of information together. The goal is to create a structure that allows you to quickly and easily find what you need when you need it.

For example, if you’re working on a research project, you might create a folder for that project and then use tags to identify different subtopics or types of resources (e.g., “case studies,” “data,” “expert opinions”). By organizing your information in this way, you can quickly locate the specific materials you need as you progress through your project.

Retrieving information

The third pillar of PKM is retrieving information.

After all, what’s the point of capturing and organizing your knowledge if you can’t access it when you need it?

A good PKM system should make it easy to search for and retrieve the information you’ve stored, whether through search functions, filters, or other navigation tools.

Imagine you’re preparing for a client meeting and need to quickly find the notes you took during your last conversation with them. With a well-organized PKM system, you can easily search for and retrieve those notes, ensuring you’re fully prepared for the meeting.

Sharing information

The final pillar of PKM is sharing information. By sharing your knowledge with others, you not only contribute to the collective wisdom of your team or organization but also open yourself up to new ideas and feedback that can further enhance your own understanding.

For instance, if you’ve developed a new process that has greatly improved your productivity, consider documenting that process in your PKM system and sharing it with your colleagues. They may have additional insights or suggestions that can make the process even better, and by sharing your knowledge, you’ve helped your entire team work more efficiently.

By building your PKM system on these four pillars—capturing, organizing, retrieving, and sharing information—you’ll be well-equipped to manage your knowledge effectively and make the most of your intellectual assets.

Check out how to use PKM in various domains here!

Manager? How you might implement a PKM system for your team

As a manager, you have the opportunity to not only improve your knowledge management practices but also to help your team members develop their PKM skills. By implementing a team-wide PKM system, you can foster a culture of continuous learning, collaboration, and innovation. Here’s how you can get started:

Assessing your organization’s knowledge management needs

Before diving into implementation, it’s crucial to assess your team’s current knowledge management practices and identify areas for improvement.

Start by asking questions like: How do team members currently capture and share knowledge? What tools and processes are in place? What challenges do they face in accessing and utilizing information?

Imagine you’re leading a marketing team and discover that team members are struggling to keep track of customer insights and competitive intelligence. This assessment helps you pinpoint a specific need for a centralized knowledge repository and sets the stage for the next steps in your PKM implementation plan.

Developing a PKM strategy and plan

Once you’ve assessed your team’s needs, it’s time to develop a PKM strategy and plan. This involves setting clear goals, identifying the right tools and processes, and creating a roadmap for implementation.

For example, if your goal is to improve collaboration and knowledge sharing among team members, you might plan to implement a shared workspace like Confluence or Notion. Your roadmap might include milestones such as setting up the workspace, creating templates for different types of content, and establishing guidelines for use.

Training and adoption of PKM practices

Implementing a PKM system is only half the battle—you also need to ensure that your team members have the skills and knowledge to use it effectively. This is where training and adoption come in.

Offer workshops or webinars to introduce team members to the new PKM tools and processes. Provide hands-on training and support to help them develop their PKM skills, such as capturing and organizing information effectively. Encourage adoption by leading by example and showcasing the benefits of PKM in your work.

Measuring and evaluating PKM success

Finally, it’s important to measure and evaluate the success of your PKM implementation. This might involve tracking metrics such as the number of team members actively using the PKM system, the volume of knowledge assets created and shared, or the impact on key business outcomes like productivity and innovation.

Imagine you’ve implemented a team-wide PKM system and want to assess its impact. By surveying team members and analyzing usage data, you discover that the new system has reduced the time spent searching for information by 50% which to a 20% increase in cross-functional collaboration. These metrics help you demonstrate the value of PKM and identify areas for continuous improvement.


In today’s fast-paced, knowledge-driven world, personal knowledge management is no longer a nice-to-have—it’s a must-have. By implementing a PKM system, you can take control of your knowledge, boost your productivity, and unlock new opportunities for growth and innovation.

Whether you’re an individual contributor looking to improve your knowledge management practices or a manager seeking to empower your team, the benefits of PKM are clear.

So why wait? Start building your PKM system today and discover the transformative power of effective knowledge management.