An external knowledge base stores information your customers and clients can use, such as guides, manuals, frequently asked questions (FAQs) and answers, as well as other customer service resources related to your products and/or services. Often, an external knowledge base also contains information related to troubleshooting, ordering, billing, shipping, returning, requesting help, recalls, company history, and your store or office locations.
An internal knowledge base stores your company’s private or confidential information and is accessible only by employees. Internal knowledge bases help employees easily find information related to benefits and compensation, onboarding, employee development, technical help, organizational structures, market research, policies, brand guidelines and protocols.
You can geek out more here on the different types of knowledge bases.
Benefits of knowledge bases
Software that is intended to be used as a knowledge base has specific benefits over solutions that can be used many other ways, like long documents, PDFs, internal wikis, or spreadsheets.
- Easy search – Purpose-built knowledge base software makes it easier to surface specific knowledge when needed
- Easy upkeep – Knowledge bases allow user to update individual items as necessary (instead of having to update and republish an entire document)
- Roles and permissions – Knowledge bases allow for granular access and editing. While some other solutions (like Google Docs or Sheets) can also be limited this way, the settings often require more clicks and can easily be forgotten.
- Designed to be used in-workflow — A knowledge base solution is designed to be used to provide answers where and when you need them, while other solutions require major context-switching and searching.
- Trust – Documents and spreadsheets can easily become outdated, and version control can lead to duplication and confusion. Knowledge bases make it clear whether what is found can be trusted.
Challenges of knowledge bases
All that being said, it can be tough to justify adding a knowledge base solution on top of existing workarounds. Here are some of the ways non-purpose built solutions have the advantage:
- Cost – If you’re already invested in a tech stack that provides content management solutions, it may be tough to justify investing in another solution when what you have “works well enough.” Look for a KB solution that offers a significant efficiency over using a workaround
- Buy-in — A knowledge base solution is, at the end of the day, another tool that needs to be adopted. If you already have a complex tech stack, this may make adoption more difficult. Look for a KB solution that integrates with many of your existing tools to make adoption easy.
What is internal knowledge base software?
Internal knowledge base software supports your employees by giving them a one-stop-shop where they can search for the resources they need to best do their jobs. An effective internal knowledge base reduces employee frustration and promotes productivity by reducing the need for repetitive searches, integrating with employee workflows, encouraging contribution and collaboration, and ensuring content relevance and accuracy.
Some additional examples of software that could be considered internal knowledge base software include documents and spreadsheets, content management systems (CMSs), web portals, FAQs, or wikis.