Behind any great knowledge management framework is a spectacular knowledge base—a centralized system that acts as the team’s one-stop shop for logging, discovering, and sharing all of the company’s vital knowledge.
Think of it like a beehive, where all of the busy bee workers use a central hub to deliver their findings to the colony and share information between them before heading out onto their next task.
But, it isn’t just a case of choosing the right knowledge base software and dumping all of your organizational knowledge in there. There’s a fine art to developing a successful knowledge base that’s the bee’s knees.
Let’s show you how!
First Up: Gather
We may be stating the obvious here, but if you want to create a truly great knowledge base, you need to decide what knowledge goes into it. To do this, you need to establish and identify the knowledge that already exists in the company. Make a list of all the business’ knowledge and where it’s currently stored.
To find out who knows what, create a “knowledge directory” so that you know who are the go-to experts in the company surrounding different aspects of the business. After this initial brainstorm, dig a little deeper by finding out from these knowledgeable team members what questions they frequently get asked. Likewise, work with the entire team and work out the sorts of issues they waste time trying to find the solutions to.
Gathering all the business information will uncover important trends such as knowledge gaps, what tacit knowledge may be hiding in team members’ heads, and what knowledge is getting siloed into different departments. These issues will be the main focus and priorities when creating the knowledge base.
The Importance of Organization
Once you have gathered all the information for your company’s knowledge base, it’s time to organize and structure it. An important aspect is how to best categorize all the organizational knowledge. There is no right or wrong answer here; it comes down to what works best for each company. This could be laid out by departments (marketing, HR, business development), the content type (spreadsheets, whitepapers, directories), or level of importance (from high-priority knowledge to low-priority.).
Be extra mindful during this stage, as maintaining such rigid categories can cause knowledge to become siloed. No matter how the knowledge base is organized, it should be easily accessible and discoverable across different departments and projects.
The knowledge base should also be laid out well-ordered and systematic, especially for new employees. In their first few months, newbies should be taken on a carefully considered journey through what knowledge they need to know and when. This will ensure consistency in the processes and standards for fresh team members to smoothly navigate the business’s ins and outs.
The design and presentation of the knowledge base are just as essential. What format is the knowledge going to be displayed in? Documents, spreadsheets, how-to videos? A mixture of different content types is often your best bet, as this caters to the different ways people like to learn and digest knowledge.
Whatever the format, the knowledge base, and its content need to be clear, eye-catching, and consistent throughout. If the information is too messy or hard to process, employees will switch off and look elsewhere to find their information.
With this planning in place, it’s almost time to launch your knowledge base! But before you do, give it a test run by getting a few trusted team members to cast a fresh eye over everything you have created so far. They will quickly be able to tell you what looks confusing or difficult to access.
Launch It to the Team
Now, you’re ready for take-off! Set a launch date in the company’s calendar and prepare the team well ahead of time. You may need to take the team through this knowledge base beforehand so that they know how it works and why it will be a game-changer for them. This could be through a webinar, a written guide, an in-person meeting, or even with an online lesson.
When the launch day is finally here, there should already be a knowledge bank in the system so that the team can dive into it straight away. After all, a knowledge base only works if the whole company shares their knowledge and inputs into the system.
It’s likely that the knowledge base won’t be perfect the first time around, what system is? Once it’s live, it’s a lot easier to discover issues and gaps that you may have missed before. That’s because your team members are best placed to tell you what is working and what isn’t, as they are the ones who are going to be using the knowledge base every day. So getting regular feedback and ideas about how helpful and intuitive the system is for them is a must.
Finally, the knowledge base you’ve created should never be thought of as the finished product. As companies and teams are forever evolving, so is their organizational knowledge. This is why the editable, customizable, and updatable knowledge bases are the best ones.
At the end of the day, whatever your strategy or high-tech software you decide to use when creating your knowledge base, what’s essential is the feedback and contributions of your team at every stage in the knowledge management process.
Build your Beehive with Lessonly
A great knowledge base is like a beehive that requires the effort and dedication of everyone in the colony for it to thrive. If you’re ready to make work easier for your teammates, then take a look at Lessonly Knowledge. Or, schedule some time to chat with a Lessonly teammate.