Expert Advice on Creating Private Internal Knowledge Bases
Five years ago, an average interaction worker used to spend around 20% of their time trying to find the relevant information needed for getting the task done. Having detected that, a 2012 study by McKinsey predicted that a searchable record of company knowledge could reduce this time for up to 35%. Not only have internal knowledge bases surpassed this number, but they’ve also become a key driver for success.
Since their importance cannot be overstressed, we will offer you some expert advice on how to build your own private internal knowledge base.
Table of Contents
1. Choose the Best Platform
All knowledge bases function as centralized repositories of information. In the digital world, they are mostly online solutions that are created and maintained in the cloud. Choosing the best KB software is therefore the first step towards building a searchable record of internal knowledge. The options are innumerable, but the best solution has to meet certain criteria.
Customization Features: Look for software systems that allow you the freedom to design your platform as you want. You should be able to create and upload different formats, organize them according to your needs, and brand them with your logo and design.
Flexible Authoring: You’ll need flexibility to create and categorize your articles in a way that’s most suitable for your workflow, which is why your pick needs to offer an easy-to-use interface and advanced authoring features like conditional logic.
Effortless Search: The entire point of building a knowledge base is to structure your company knowledge so that information can be found quickly and with ease. That this means is that a good software system has to provide simple navigation and context sensitive help.
Accessibility: Knowledge base software systems can be either in-house or cloud-based solutions. The best kind is the one that’s accessible 24/7 across different devices, for which cloud computing is unexcelled. You’ll need to manage access limitations and security settings as well, so make sure to check if your choice provides these options.
Insight & Feedback: Since your company should be able to learn from its learning environment, choose a knowledge base solution that includes analytics, reporting, and feedback systems. This is important because improvement is impossible without insight.
2. Determine Authorizations and Access Permissions
As opposed to external systems, internal knowledge bases are limited to users within your organization. They are also different from corporate wikis, since you can determine who can write and edit articles and who can’t, just as well as whether or not all of your employees can have access to all sections in the base.
Transparency: The best practice is to make your private knowledge base available to everyone on board, but limit writing and editing authorizations. Knowledge base articles are usually created by technical writers, though you can appoint some of your employees to contribute as well.
Employee Contribution: However, this is easier said than done. The process of creating and updating knowledge base content is time-consuming, and it’s not something you can require from your employees in their free time. You’ll need to create a team of competent people, make benefits obvious and offer rewards.
3. Identify Frequently Asked Questions and Recurring Issues
An internal knowledge base should reduce the query time on a company-wide level, which is why you’ll need to identify frequently asked questions and recurring issues and provide practical and actionable solutions.
Collective Brainstorming: In case your organisation still handles these problems manually, which means that your employees need to contact senior managers whenever one occurs, you’ll have to find a way to collect all of the FAQs and make an inventory. You can start by establishing a collaborative Google document that everyone can access to share their own frequent queries.
Analytics for Additional Updates: Once you’ve created a number of articles and your employees have started to use the knowledge base for researching solutions, pay close attention to the software’s analytics. In case there are queries that haven’t been covered yet, you’ll be able to determine and include them through additional updates.
4. Make Your Knowledge Base Content Concise and Relevant
Writing a knowledge base article is not only time-consuming. It demands expertise in various fields of work and requires a special technique that focuses on concision and relevance. In order to be truly helpful, your content needs to be well-structured, written in simple language and easy to read.
One Article – One Question: Unlike creative content, knowledge base articles are fully informational. They need to be highly topical and answer to only one question at the time, while writing style should enable users to find solutions at a single glance. Their purpose is to simplify workflow, so keep your writing succinct and to the point.
Scannable Text: Your employees will want quick and practical solutions, which is why you need to make your articles as scannable as possible. Always break your text into smaller chunks and use bullets and tables for formatting.
Multiformat Content: Whether your articles cover technical topics or not, visualisations are always a helpful addition to the text. Include videos and infographics wherever you can, particularly when you need to explain complicated concepts and multi-step processes.
The same requirements apply to both individual articles and the entire knowledge base. You’ll need to structure your platform in a way that’s easy to use, which is a process that includes a convenient and powerful search bar, context sensitive help, navigation options, and folder management.
Searchability: Aside from the search bar and navigation sidebar that are an essential part of every knowledge base, consider using contextual help tools as well. With tooltips, pop-ups, and light boxes, you’ll be able to explain technical terms, increase user experience and emphasize important information with ease.
Sections & Categories: Organize your knowledge base as you would an effective user manual and divide larger topics into sections and subsections. Use the folder structure to categorize topics and create a separate category for each of your departments.
Though their main purpose is to enable and improve internal knowledge sharing and decision making, knowledge bases streamline workflow, facilitate communication and collaboration, increase the quality of customer support and reduce onboarding and training costs. Creating one might take some effort and time, but it certainly yields benefits that make the process worthwhile.
Author Bio: Jason Grills is a writer and a technical support executive currently associated with ProProfs Knowledgebase Software. He enjoys writing about emerging software products, new designs and trends in content marketing. He lives in Los Angeles, California. In his spare time, Jason enjoys pampering his pet dogs, shopping, and doing all things creative.