One of the best ways you can improve operations is by building a knowledge base consisting of policies, procedures, and any other information that needs to be accessed by the people who work for your organization or utilize its services. It’s well-known that businesses that have well-documented policies and procedures have less difficulty bringing new talent on board, experience fewer operational problems, and provide great resources for employees, customers, and vendors. Let’s take a look at what goes into creating a successful working knowledge base.
What Knowledge is Needed?
First, you will need to know what information should be included in your knowledge base. If you lack an idea or understanding of what is needed, you run the risk of including too much or too little information, and this is not going to help anyone. What does your audience need, and what gaps in knowledge can impair day-to-day operations?
To reframe this somewhat, consider what information you would want to share with your customers and staff. What are their needs and concerns? What questions are asked most often? What part of your business is burdened most by these requests? Take all of this into consideration for your knowledge base and plan it around what you discover.
What Type of Knowledge Base Are You Focused On?
There are six types of knowledge bases, each with their own benefits and shortcomings: Internal, hosted, self-hosted, customer, external, and open-source. Here is some information to consider for each of your options for a knowledge base system:
- Internal: Used by your employees, this type of knowledge base would hold information about your policies and procedures. The main goal of this is to make your employees’ jobs easier and your business more efficient.
- Hosted: This type of knowledge base is hosted in the cloud for ease of use by employees, customers, and vendors.
- Self-Hosted: This type of knowledge base works like a hosted system, but it is on company-owned servers, providing greater security.
- Customer: Used to provide information for customers exclusively. Some businesses opt to just use a FAQ system, but this is still a good opportunity to provide support.
- External: This system is one that is publicly accessible and available. These types of services are great resources for sales and marketing teams that want to establish a new customer base.
- Open-Source: Open-source knowledge bases, like wikis, are those that anyone can edit. These aren’t always great options for small businesses, but they can be valuable assets for those who want to gather like-minded individuals who are passionate about specific topics, and could be either used internally, or externally.
The most notable options for businesses are hosted or self-hosted, especially if you plan to use your knowledge base to support employees and customers.
What Kind of Content are You Creating?
The research you performed in the first stage of this process will be paramount to connecting you with the experts needed to build content for your knowledge base system. This process is not a short one, but once you do get an established knowledge base, you will likely see your productivity soar. Remember, keep things simple when you can; failing to do this will only complicate matters and confuse people. Use a question and answer system that is easily searchable, and be sure to provide answers that are clear, readable, engaging, and flexible enough to apply to whatever problems someone might be facing.
Are You Reinforcing Your Content?
You should continuously update the information found in your knowledge base over time. This will grow easier as you build out workflows and collect information on what is needed, what is not needed, and where your company’s shortcomings lie. It is also inevitable that you will have to change information as processes are updated. Inaccurate information is not going to do anyone any favors.
Setton Consulting can help your business streamline operations with a knowledge base system. To learn more, reach out to us at (212) 796-6061.