How to Create a Good Internal Knowledge Base

Internal Knowledge Base

We all know the importance of choosing the right knowledge base software when it comes to customer service. But what we often forget is that our employees are our customers, too.

According to recent research by Gallup, the world is undergoing an employee engagement crisis. Only around one third of US employees are engaged at work, and just 13 percent of employees working for organisations worldwide.

What are the implications of that? Well, it isn’t good. Employees who are not enthusiastic about their jobs or active in the workplace don’t make for a good end product.

There are several ways to improve employee engagement. From giving credit where it’s due to creating a positive working environment. But one simple area that often gets overlooked is creating a good internal knowledge base for your employees.

Why do we need an Internal Knowledge Base?

Not only can you take some of the pressure off line managers and supervisors when it comes to training new hires, but your existing employees will have a central resource to go back to time and again.

You may be running a handful of employees at the moment, but consider the role of an internal knowledge base as your company begins to grow.

Rather than the need for constant repeated questions, emails, and meetings; your team can use the self service approach to efficiently resolve their doubts.

Poor communication is one of the biggest drivers of employee disengagement. Having to spend large amounts of time looking for information and trying to understand policies takes time and patience. The importance of a good internal knowledge base cannot be overemphasised.  

The Importance of a Good Internal Knowledge Base

Beyond improving employee morale and engagement, a good internal knowledge base has several key benefits, including:

  • Centralized Information: As you begin to build and contribute to your internal knowledge base, it becomes an invaluable, centralized resource. All company information can be stored there, from role playing a sales call, to your company’s VAT number. It reduces confusion and helps create confident employees who can work effectively without supervision.
  • Reduced Training Costs: It takes a lot of time and resources training new employees. That translates into reduced productivity and greater costs. A good internal knowledge base can solve as an effective way for your new hires to get up to speed on your company documentation, while allowing existing members to continue with their work.
  • Increased Productivity: Effective documentation in your internal knowledge base will increase productivity, no matter what industry you’re in. Whether that means faster time to market or smoother marketing campaigns, it all begins with well-rounded, well-trained employees.

So, how do you make the most of your resources to create a good internal knowledge base for your employees? Here are a few pointers:

1. Decide what information to include before you start

It goes without saying that the success of your knowledge base depends on the quality of your content. There are many resources available to help you create killer documentation for your customers, and some of these tips apply to your employees as well.

The main point to keep in mind is that your employees deserve as much time (if not more) than your customers. So, your internal knowledge base shouldn’t be something you rush, or simply throw together as an afterthought.

If you’ve heard of the expression “GIGO” (garbage in, garbage out), that’s pretty pertinent here.

So, What has to be included?

So, what kind of information should you include? How do you decide what is useful and what isn’t?

It pays to examine your company from an objective point of view. Its workflows, processes, training curve, and common issues employees face.

When deciding on the information you need, be sure to use your most important resource – your employees. Talk to them. Ask them what information they use and need on a daily basis and what would be helpful to have in one place.

From company holiday and sick leave policy, to best practices when it comes to answering a customer query, everything should be well organised in your internal knowledge base.

Once you have included everyone’s answers in your research and combined it with your own observations, make a list. Decide on how you are going to organize the information. It’s no use having a ton of information available if your employees don’t know where to look for it.

Sections should start to emerge naturally. You’ll want to group information together, such as HR policies, in one category. Company history and values in another. Procedures to follow for certain projects or situations, customer service guides, and different resources for different departments.

Your marketing team don’t need to receive the same information as your tech staff, and overloading them with knowledge will only serve to confuse them more.

Things to Remember

Remember that you won’t necessarily have to start from scratch. Chances are, you already have a lot of company documentation available to use as a starting point. There’s no need to reinvent the wheel, but rather, repurpose it for your knowledge base.

Your internal knowledge base will increase in value as time goes on and you keep it updated continually.

2. Choose the Best Knowledge Base Software for Your Company

When deciding upon which knowledge base software to choose, consider a few important factors:

  • Is it fast and easy to use? Can you employees find the information they need quickly without having to invest a lot of time in finding certain documents?
  • Does it have an effective search engine? Can your team easily look for what they need by entering one or two keywords? Does the search engine allow for partial search, in case your employees don’t know the exact name of the document they seek?
  • Does it provide a clean user experience? Is it well organised and easy on the eye? Does it have a good logic flow and make it obvious how to use? Or is it cluttered, inefficient and confusing?
  • Does it provide a superior authoring experience? This is an essential question to ask when choosing a knowledge base software. Creating your knowledge base isn’t only a lot of work in the beginning. Your internal knowledge base is a living, breathing resource, and will be updated continually. If you want all employees to contribute, creating an article and inserting graphics should be as clean and simple as possible.
  • Are there internal commenting options available? When you’re writing your documentation, in most cases it will not be tasked to one person alone. You’ll more than likely form a collaboration with multiple employees. So, make sure your knowledge base software allows for internal commenting, separate from the article content.
  • Does it provide good user access restrictions? You don’t want all your information to be available to everyone in the organisation. So, make sure the knowledge base software you select is capable of assigning access rights to your employees.

What is Most Important?

Of course, selecting the best knowledge base software is somewhat subjective. What one person values in a product, another may not find useful. But if your knowledge base software doesn’t offer at least these basic functionalities mentioned above, look for one that does.

3. Set Your Knowledge Base Structure Up

You already know that organisation of your documentation will save time and make for a much more enriching experience for all. So, it pays to put the time in to get the structure absolutely right.

And you should define it before you start adding your content. If you’ve carried out research by speaking to your team, try and find common patterns.

Make sure that the categories make sense and are specific and focused. They should also be logical and easy to break into sub-categories.

For example, one section called as “Company Policies”, and sub sections may be “HR forms”, “customer contracts”, etc.

Choose your permission settings carefully. While you want your employees to feel like they operate in a transparent workplace; certain information, such as salaries and outgoings, you may want to restrict access to a few authorised employees.

4. Make Sure Your Employees Can Give Feedback

Your knowledge base is not set in stone and neither is the way you structure it. You may find that what you thought was logical in the beginning doesn’t make sense on a day to day basis.

The best way to scout out problems with your internal knowledge base is to ask the people who are using it every day. So, be sure that your software allows for employee feedback.

As daily users, they’ll be the most valuable resource when it comes to improving your knowledge base and can let you know what’s missing, what can improv and what doesn’t need to be there.

You can collect feedback in a number of ways. Either by tracking user analytics, like amount of article views and clicks, and user behaviour online, or by asking your employees to rate the helpfulness of an article or section.

You can also hold surveys and ask outright which parts of the knowledge base they find useful and which parts they find confusing.

Your knowledge base should be a team effort. So, improve employee morale by asking them to contribute. Listen to their ideas and let them prove themselves to you by contributing an article or adding some documentation.

Feeling valued and knowing that their ideas and contributions count is a great way to increase employee engagement.

Wrapping it Up

Your internal knowledge base is just as important as the knowledge base you provide for your customers, so ensure you put the corresponding amount of effort into creating and updating it.

Effective communication is fundamental in running a successful company – and that starts with your key internal documentation.

Your knowledge base seamlessly organised and logical, fast and easy to use, and allow for user feedback and continued contributions.

Through your internal knowledge base, you can get all your employees on one page, while reducing training and onboarding costs, increasing productivity, and facilitating long term growth.

Are you in the market for a good internal knowledge base software? Contact us today to get started with your Document360 free trial!