Things to Remember When Planning Your Internal Knowledge Base
By David Miller
An internal knowledge base is a unique and an efficient way for companies to store information. Don't get us wrong, it is not just a mere collection of data. As a matter of fact, when set up properly, it provides employees with important information. Thanks to the latest software solutions such as knowledge base software, the information stored in the knowledge base can be found easily, updated, edited and even shared.
It also streamlines communication across departments. This is yet another characteristic of a good internal knowledge base. With instant access to valuable information and the ability to collaborate, your team's productivity and effectiveness will also be increased. But in order to enjoy all the benefits, the tool should be built upon healthy foundations.
This is why we present to you some key points to know when planning your internal knowledge base.
Purpose and Content
Right at the start, it is important to establish the rules of the game. It can have several purposes and many organizations tend to have all in one tool, which can be useful in quite different scenarios.
The content found is what determines its functionality and applicability. It can contain procedural knowledge, confident research results, plans for the business expansion, descriptions and guides about the company's products and services, best practices for each department, customer support data, policies, rules and regulations etc.
In practice, this means that these information can be used by all departments across an organization in order to quickly access information and increase the speed of the workflow, improve accuracy and increase productivity.
Structure of Knowledge Base
What it does is not just store the company's information in the cloud, but it also generates web pages that are accessible via any browser on any device. This is why structure is important. In this case, it refers to categories in which various content types will be stored and also the very look of the home page and other pages of your internal wiki.
Besides the search bar, will there be the latest articles or the frequently viewed ones, or maybe both? What will be the names of the categories? How many general categories will there be? What will be the name of the subcategories? Once you have answers to these questions and you know the purpose of the information storing it will be much easier to work on the article template.
Template of Articles
Respecting the same content template across the entire platform is a crucial part of any knowledge base, especially when it comes to an internal one. Consistency is the key to finding the information easier. Especially when the content has to maintain relevancy and be concise at the same time.
Usually, internal wiki articles comprise an answer to one question. In this case, the title of an article should also be in the form of a question. Straight to the point answers make the best content in this scenario. Once you have worked out the content template, you should decide over the article author.
Picking the Right Writers and Editors
The best-case scenario would be to get an entire team to create the content. Knowledge base software has all the necessary features to enable the entire workforce to get on board. In the real world, this is a lot less likely to happen right at the start, especially when a new technology is introduced in an organization for the first time.
It is quite normal that the first entries in the knowledge base will be made by you, assisted by few of managers or department heads. Once the foundation is established, it is recommended to involve as many people as you can.
An internal wiki is capable of empowering the user with a permission to review articles before they are published. This is very important if you want to maintain the value and consistency in all published articles.
Who will be you editor(s)? Also, you might want to devote some time to work out the reward system for the most active contributors. This will motivate other employees to actively take part in knowledge sharing and collaboration.
Decide Access Privileges
Internal knowledge base tools allow administrators to assign user permissions and create user groups. Since all the data is stored in the cloud, you don't have to worry about the content, as it remains private and secured. Conditional content rules are there to further customize the accessibility of the knowledge base content. Administrators and editors can give or remove editing or view user rights for every article separately.
These options come in handy if there is a need to hide certain information. For instance, during the onboarding period of new hires, you might restrict their access to only the best practices, rules and regulations closely tied to their job description.
The planning process is time-consuming and appear as a tough job, but an internal knowledge base plays a key role in the growth of an organization. This is why it is important to pay extra attention to how it is going to be built and structured.
Don't forget that this doesn't end here. Your internal knowledge base will never be perfect and it will require regular updates and tune ups in order to remain a valuable resource to any organization.