Many organizations use knowledge bases in order to service their customer’s requirements and ensure they can access the critical information they need, when they need it. However, in many instances the opportunities presented by an internal knowledge base are overlooked and companies miss out on the obvious gains available. In this blog, we look at the basic fundamentals of an internal knowledge base and explore how you can build your own.
What Is an Internal Knowledge Base
Put simply, an internal knowledge base is an information repository designed to store high-value company data in order to optimize it’s availability and value to the business. By centralizing critical business information in a single easy-to-access system, employees can find the information they need to perform to the best of their capabilities. This is often particularly useful in organizations that are process or regulation heavy as information can be easily sourced and used accordingly.
Why Is an Internal Knowledge Base Useful
Implemented effectively, an internal knowledge base can deliver major benefits for organizations who need to distribute internal information. By improving accessibility to key data, your employees can optimize its potential and apply it where necessary, this can improve their efficiency and capabilities, helping you achieve more with less.
Beyond simple productivity gains, an internal knowledge base also helps improve access to key processes that play a fundamental role in the day-to-day delivery of your business proposition.
How to Build an Internal Knowledge Base
When it comes to building an internal knowledge base, it’s important to effectively plan out how you’re going to bring the idea to life. As a significant resource (and investment) within your organization, it’s important there is a clear strategy in place to ensure it is worthwhile and justified.
Here are the initial steps you should take to pursue the development of an internal knowledge base:
1. Identify the Key Information That Needs to Be Included
Before you start building your internal knowledge base, you first need to understand what information you’re looking to capture. There’s so much data within your business and so much you could include, it’s essential you prioritize to avoid overwhelming users and ensure only the very best information is stored.
To achieve this, it’s important to have a plan and take into account all of the stakeholders that will use the system. By getting the views of employees from different areas of the business, you’ll be able to identify common challenges and focus on the information that solves the greatest issues first. On top of that, you also want to consider if there are any priority challenges that are having a significant impact on your business operations. This will help identify the topic areas that will deliver the most value and help you choose a place to start.
Finally, once you have an idea on the topics you’re going to start with, you need to prioritize the key information that needs to be included to deliver maximum value – this is likely to encompass company guidelines, best practices and key contact information. Once this has been agreed, you can start to draw up a list of key internal contributors who are best placed to provide the information you’re looking for.
2. Find the Right Knowledge Base Software
Choosing the right knowledge base software for your needs is essential. With so many options on the market, it’s important you find the right one that gives you the features and functionality you require.
Before making a decision, you need to think about how it will be used and what is required to facilitate that use. Perhaps you need to create tiers of access to protect confidential information? Or maybe you need a highly granular search function to enable your employees to find what they need quickly? Whatever the case, it’s important you investigate your options and choose the best one that meets your needs. If you’re unsure what you’re going to require up front, then you’ll want to look for knowledge bases that are feature-rich and gives you the flexibility to adapt in the future. You don’t want to be committed to a system that limits the potential of your information or makes it more difficult to use.
Remember, a knowledge base is a long-term commitment so it’s integral you take the time to explore your options before committing to a platform.
3. Build an Effective Infrastructure and Ensure It Is Maintained
Identifying and building the structure of your internal knowledge base is an essential step in unlocking the benefits for your support operatives. It’s critical the information is collected, organized and stored in a consistent way that helps your teams make the most of it when the time comes. Regularly working against the clock (your customer’s expectations), they need to be able to find information around target topics quickly or the quality of service they deliver will be limited.
This structure needs to be scoped and agreed by all major stakeholders before any information is collected as you’ll want to ensure everything follows the same rules from the start. Once an overall structure is agreed, the categories and tags you’ll use to effectively segment your information need to be agreed, ensuring maximum searchability.
4. Regularly Collect and Evaluate Staff Feedback
Your internal knowledge base is built for your staff, to help them access the key information they need and make their lives that little bit easier. With this in mind, it’s important you regularly coordinate with your staff on the knowledge base’s strengths and weaknesses. Understanding what it’s doing well and what could be improved will help you iterate and maximize its value within your organization.
Feedback can be collected in the knowledge base itself via a simple internal feedback system, through external surveys that regularly ask for user’s thoughts and opinions or through direct comments on the articles/document themselves. Depending on user seniority, you could also give them direct access to edit the documents directly, but this approach needs to be carefully managed to avoid inconsistencies and ensure the information remains as accurate as possible.
The very best internal knowledge bases are iterative and evolve over time to meet the needs of its users in the best possible way. By regularly coordinating with them on their challenges and preferences, you’ll be able to develop a fully customized resource designed specifically for their needs.
How to Create an Internal Knowledge Base Summary:
- Identify the key information that needs to be included
- Find the right knowledge base software
- Build an effective infrastructure and ensure it is maintained
- Regularly collect and evaluate staff feedback
With an internal knowledge base at the heart of your organization, you’ll be able to collect, store, manage and utilize the everyday information that keeps your business ticking. Offering rapid access to this information will not only protect the company from information loss, but critically, help your support operatives to deliver better customer satisfaction. Empowering them with the essential information they need to meet and exceed customer expectations, an effectively implemented internal knowledge base has the potential to radically improve the support your deliver to your customers every day.