Understanding the utility of a knowledge base is one thing. Deciding on the purpose your knowledge base will fill for your organization is another.
The first step in setting up a knowledge base is to determine the need your knowledge base will fulfill. Think about your audience. Do you want your knowledge base to support your employees, your customers, or both? Once you know which audience(s) you want your knowledge base(s) to serve, research where the biggest gaps in knowledge exist.
The answers to those questions will help you understand if you do need a knowledge base and to begin thinking about how it should be structured.
Once you know that you need a knowledge base, you must determine what type of knowledge base would best serve your needs. There are six common types of knowledge bases. To decide on the type of knowledge base you may want to create, think about the audience the knowledge base will serve, how accessible you want the knowledge base to be to the general public, and whether you will host the knowledge base on your company server or rely on a provider to host it.
Organization is a key component in creating an organizational structure for a knowledge base. You want all users to be able to quickly and easily find what they are looking for. Developing your knowledge base structure at the beginning of your process will not only help you organize your content as your knowledge base grows, but will inform navigation design and help make it more intuitive for users..
There are a number of different ways you can choose to organize your knowledge base:
Your knowledge base will constantly change as your content expands, is edited, or archived. That’s why it is important to make your categories broad enough to encompass an array of content that can be subcategorized by topic or theme.
Your knowledge base requires a constant inflow of interesting and engaging content that specifically meets the needs of your audiences. Subject matter experts (SMEs) and a designated editor (or two) should be responsible for developing the content to ensure the quality, accuracy, and efficacy of all content in your knowledge base that’s distributed to your employees and / or clients. Here’s how that process could work:
Because you will likely have more than one SME writing content for your knowledge base, you will need a style guide to make sure your content is consistent in look, tone, and feel regardless of who is writing or editing that content. Your marketing or communications department likely has a style guide that includes guidelines for punctuation, brand style, formatting, and more. See how a knowledge manager can help create and enforce guidelines.
You want to be sure your content is easy to understand and that your SMEs provide that content in an efficient manner. To do both, provide them with writing directions that cover these basics:
A shared knowledge base platform is a software system that makes it easy for information to flow from your knowledge base to those who need it. The shared platform you choose will include the tools that extend the functionality of your knowledge base. For example, the shared platform software could include search tools, file sharing, analytics and reporting, a user feedback system, and more. The shared platform you choose should also be able to scale with the growth of your knowledge base.
Updating content will be a regular activity in order to keep your knowledge base relevant and useful. Rely on your knowledge base software system’s built-in analytics to help. The data you review will help you better understand:
Plan to have your SMEs review all content (on a rolling basis) throughout the year in order to update, optimize, or retire content as necessary. In addition, you should plan to update relevant content any time your company policies, products, or changes to your services. Guru's verification engine ensures your knowledge is always up-to-date.
A knowledge base is a great way to organize internal information to facilitate collaboration across your company. A well-maintained knowledge base can also help to provide customers with quick access to answers they need about your products or services. Guru can help you determine what type of knowledge base is best for your needs. Get started today with Guru for free, and harness the power of integrated knowledge management for your business.