A knowledge base can contain not just hundreds or thousands of articles, but sometimes hundreds of thousands of articles. Making sure that a repository like this is both usable (i.e., articles are easy to find) and useful (articles are relevant and provide the desired information) requires some careful planning and maintenance, even after the knowledge base is up and running. Fortunately, with the right process and the right tools, it’s pretty easy to create a powerful knowledge base your users will love.
Below are three steps to creating and maintaining streamlined knowledge bases.
1. Invest in a high-quality knowledge base software application
If you have only 10 or 20 knowledge resources, you can probably get by with sticking them all in the same folder or just posting questions and answers on a simple FAQ page. But, if your organization is like most, you have considerably more articles than that, or at least you will as your knowledge base grows in the future.
While it might be tempting to simply build out a folder structure or put together a quick wiki, this approach will probably not serve you well in the long run. Instead, invest in a high-quality knowledge base software program. With cloud-based software-as-a-service, this doesn’t have to be expensive, but it will be worth every penny.
Here are three major benefits of using knowledge base software to streamline your knowledge base:
- Version control: As your organizational knowledge grows and changes, the resources in your knowledge base will need to be revised and updated. Version control features can help you plan and track these revisions so that your knowledge base is always current.
- Searchability: With knowledge base software, you can categorize and tag your articles for enhanced searchability. This is a key step in making your knowledge base usable.
- Improved efficiency: The ultimate goal of streamlining is efficiency. Knowledge base software makes it easy for you identify articles that need to be written as well as those that need to be revised, updated, or deleted. It also improves the efficiency of your knowledge workers, who will have to spend less time searching for information.
2. Use knowledge base article templates
Imagine writing 3,000 or 30,000 knowledge base articles starting from scratch. Not only would this take a long time, but it would be pretty annoying.
Instead of reinventing the wheel for every article, create article templates that your authors can use. Depending on your specific resources, you may have one basic template or different templates for different types of articles (e.g., information overviews, tutorials, training documents). Your templates should include a default format as well as formats for the basic pieces of an article, such as headings, ordered and unordered lists, and info boxes.
Using templates has several advantages:
- It speeds up the knowledge base content development process.
- It provides guidance for your authors about what the articles should look like.
- It provides a consistent experience for your audience, whether that is your employees or your customers.
3. Review and revise your knowledge base regularly
In large organizations, articles may get added to your knowledge base on a daily basis. But no matter the size of your company or your knowledge base, you should have a regular review schedule. This will help you ensure that your articles are of the highest quality and are kept up-to-date.
Here are some tools for reviewing and revising your knowledge base:
- Create a system that allows people to submit ideas for articles they would like to see and a process for assigning those articles to be written.
- Schedule articles for review on a regular basis. For example, you may have a policy that requires all articles to be reviewed on a yearly basis.
- Randomly spot-check your knowledge base articles for accuracy and consistency.
- Use content ratings to determine which articles are the most useful and which authors produce the most useful content.
A streamlined knowledge base is a powerful tool that to improve efficiency and productivity. Follow these steps to build the usable -- and useful -- knowledge base your organization needs.
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