As a continuation from my topic regarding Knowledge Management System before, this article titled Why Knowledge Management System (KMS) Fails will focus on the reasons why KMS fails in most organisations. There are several reasons why KMS initiatives fails within an organisations, from the technical side of the KMS to the habit of human beings. All of them plays a vital role in the success of a KMS. For this article, we will be discussing five of the most common reasons why KMS fails.

  • Poor Initial Implementation

The most critical moment for the success of the KMS initiative is during its inception or during its initial implementation. The KMS itself must have a simplified user interface that is user friendly or else it would not appeal to the old generations within the organisations that is not able to quickly adapt with the use of the technology.

There are several reasons to this, the main cause may be because of no user acceptance test, most companies that initiates a KMS usually utilises an in house development team to cut cost. The advantage is that these developer are adept to the organisations own data storage or data location, however since the cost to develop the system is limited, thus making the development team skip some of the procedures in order to develop the system on time.

Other than that, most KMS’s interface are not built as beautiful or interactive than most websites or portals online mainly because the cosmetics is not what the developers were focusing on, instead they focused on the function. However, since the KMS is used by an array of people, with a bleak interface, it would not excite most people and some will simply think that it is not a properly built KMS. When this occurs, there is a chance that most of them will quickly forget about the KMS and ultimately will not use it in their daily life.

  • Technology Barrier

To create a KMS systems that could be utilised by everyone, it requires the company or organisation to have a medium to high computers for the users and also powerful servers to ensure that the KMS can be operated at its highest potential. Most companies could not operate a proper KMS due to the cost required to operate and maintain the system for the KMS such as buying new computers, maintaining a stable internet network, security measures to ensure no outside threats and many more.

Apart from that, the user themselves needs to be knowledgeable on how to use the KMS. There are older generations of employees who are unable to cope with the use of KMS because of technological barrier, since they already have a hard time coping with the use of a computer, the internet, emails and so on all together, they require an extensive training regime and assistance from the other employees who are younger or who knows how to use the KMS.

  • Work Culture

Some employees who have worked within the organisations for a long time could not cope with any changes that is different from what they have been doing for years. They are too used to their comfort zone that it has made them unable to adopt to any changes. According to Professor Prabhu Guptara (1999), “Organizational culture vitiates the possibility of success with KM in contemporary organizations. There are many things which create an organization’s unspoken rules and ways of doing things. First, the gossip and the informal communication among employees about “How things get done around here.”

  • Lack of awareness

KMS requires all of the employees to be aware of its existence and fully utilise it for their own advantages. However, most employees in organisations fails to understand the importance of KMS and considers them as a nuisance because it is an extra work that they need to do. For example, in organisation A (name will not be mentioned due to privacy reasons), the Intelligent Technology Systems (ITS) Department created their own KMS to be used by all of the staff to ensure a seamless sharing of information and knowledge. ITS conducts a weekly open session where all of the employees are welcomed to come to our department to engage and ask us questions regarding the KMS to further ensure that they understand the functions and benefits of a KMS. However, the employees still lack the awareness because since the introduction of the KMS, only 10% of the employees came to the ITS department to learn more regarding the KMS. Most of them does not care about the KMS at all. Other than that, the employees themselves does not want to be responsible in terms of uploading new knowledge within the KMS and rely fully on to the ITS department to do so. Its and apparent problem that could only be solved by if the employees themselves possess an awareness to fully utilise the KMS.

  • Lack of performance indicator and measurable indicator

For an organisations to pursue, develop or buy a new system such as a KMS, it requires extensive study on the return of investments because the cost of such a product is very high. However, what they misunderstand is the complexity of using such systems once it has been purchased or developed mostly due to the employee’s inability to fully utilise the system. Furthermore, the organisation itself does not have a performance measurement indicator which can be used to measure the overall performance of using the KMS compared to before using it. Without a proper measurement system, an organisations KMS will have no guide in which in the long run will be considered as a failure. For example, within organisations A itself, there is no performance measurement indicator that can be used to see the extent of the benefits that the KMS has provided to the organisation. Whether it has improved the overall operations and output of organisation A or does it remain the same as before the KMS was implemented.

As a conclusion, these two part series of articles have delved in the explanations in regards to what KMS is, its importance or relevance and also why it fails. KMS is an important system that must be explored and studied before it can be used in organisations. A proper feasibility study must be conducted to determine the level of acceptance and also the readability of organisations employees to use KMS. It is better for organisations to determine this factor before initiating KMS in their organisations or else KMS will be a white elephant that wastes money and potentially decreases the efficiency of the organisations. The next post will be titled the Burden of Responsibility, stay tuned.

Thank you.


Frost, A. (2014, January 25). A Synthesis of Knowledge Management Failure Factors. Retrieved from Knowledge Management Tools:

Guptara, P. (1999). WHY KNOWLEDGE MANAGEMENT FAILS. Knowledge Management Review, 26 -29.

Malhotra, Y. (2010). Why Knowledge Management Programme or Initiative Fails? Why Knowledge Management Programme or Initiative Fails.

Weber, R. O. (2007). Addressing Failure Factors in Knowledge Management. The electronic Journal of Knowledge Management, 333 – 346.