What is an Internal Knowledge Base?

An internal knowledge base (KB) is created by an organization strictly for team members to access private or confidential knowledge as needed. It should contain as much information and documentation as possible in order to help employees do their jobs with a minimum of interruption.
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Multiple teams within a given company may maintain their own internal knowledge bases specific to their needs, but the best practice is to create one central knowledge base that contains information from across the company in order to reduce friction and enable collaboration.

What kind of information is captured in a company knowledge base?

While any group can have one, internal knowledge bases are usually used by companies to capture knowledge that employees need in order to properly do their jobs, and can include information on:

  • Company information — Office addresses, stock symbol(s), press contacts, and  websites
  • Benefits — Available perks, how and when to sign up, and open enrollment periods
  • Onboarding — What new employees should expect in their first weeks, what technology they’ll be issued, how things work, and who to go to for questions
  • Tech help — Full-service and self-service IT information, basic device security
  • Organizational structure — Chain of command, escalation procedures, and where teams belong
  • Compensation — How to access pay stubs and tax documents, as well as yearly review cycle information
  • Calendars — Lists of company holidays and important dates
  • Market research — External articles, competitive and pricing information
  • "In-the-know" information — Internal process updates (temporary or permanent), workarounds, company announcements

Information should also be captured at the team level for easy knowledge sharing within orgs. For example, customer support reps will need access to external FAQs and customer usage data; account management may need usage and finance data; engineering will need anonymized usage data but access to engineering-specific tools and information that require their own documentation.

Because of these overlapping and discrete needs, a company knowledge base should be flexible and expansive, stemming from a top-down knowledge management strategy, but with actual maintenance and article creation owned from the bottom up.

How to create an internal knowledge base

1. Determine what you need to solve

If you’re primarily looking at real-time knowledge sharing, a knowledge base is what you should consider. If you’re looking at occasional training, you may want to consider a Learning Management System (LMS). Learn about the different types of knowledge management tools.

2. Create a knowledge management strategy

A knowledge management (KM) strategy is a specific plan to help your organization manage information, data, and knowledge for the benefit of your organization and any stakeholders. Figure out what your plan is before committing to creating a knowledge base to time and prevent frustration. Learn about knowledge management strategies.

3. Create an implementation plan

At its core, KM implementation is a change management exercise, but one that contains its own solution, as sharing knowledge makes change management easier. Before you write a single article, set your knowledge base up for successful adoption. Learn how to implement a new knowledge base.

4. Choose a knowledge base software

There are 6 main types of knowledge bases. Whether you choose a FAQ, a document, a wiki, or a newer platform, make sure you understand the benefits and challenges. Learn about the differences between corporate wikis and internal knowledge bases.

5. Create your knowledge base!

Check out our simple guide to creating your knowledge base.

How to structure an internal knowledge base

An internal knowledge base should be structured in an intuitive manner. It should be designed to emphasize ease of access and findability, not simply for information storage. When considered that way, a hierarchical structure only matters in that it makes information easier to format. Related pieces of information should be connected either via hyperlink or tagging or both to give a fuller context. Whatever structure works for your company is what you should use. See how Guru’s internal knowledge base software makes it easy to structure your information.

How to write an internal knowledge base article

The most important thing to keep in mind when building an internal knowledge base is to keep the content relevant, easy to understand, and easy to find.

Information should be short and relevant to prevent confusion in its interpretation. If possible, avoid burying information in longer, multiple topic pages or documents. Where you can, create information on a single topic. Link together related topics, but by making each article as focused as possible, searching becomes much more straightforward, as the reader doesn’t have to scan through multiple paragraphs (or pages) to find an answer. Discover why shorter knowledge is easier to use.

Here are a few examples of great internal knowledge base articles:

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