In today's economy, knowledge is one of the most valuable assets that businesses have. At the workplace, this intangible asset plays a significant role in enhancing employee productivity and efficiency.
Knowledge, when managed and shared effectively, can save a significant amount of time that would otherwise be spent on trivial tasks like:
- digging through emails to get data
- reaching out to colleagues in person
- Searching through various folders to fetch information
Creating an internal knowledge base is one of the most effective ways to deal with these issues, and help employees become more productive and efficient at work.
In this article, we explore:
- What is an internal knowledge base?
- Why your company needs a knowledge base for internal teams
- How to create an internal knowledge base
- How to make your knowledge base easy to use
What Is an Internal Knowledge Base?
An internal knowledge base is a centralized online information repository that is created and designed for use by employees. It can be viewed as an internal help center that contains accurate information that employees need while working on projects, dealing with clients, or getting acquainted with your work dynamics.
An internal knowledge base can comprise information such as:
- Company policies and procedures
- Agendas for meetings
- Roles and responsibilities at different levels
- Employee hierarchies
- Client details
- Product details or descriptions
- Employee and customer forms
- Issue resolution processes, and much more
Why Your Company Needs a Knowledge Base for Internal Teams?
Each year, large companies in the U.S. lose up to $47 million due to poor knowledge sharing. Part of the reason they incur these losses is that employees are not able to get the information they need fast and with ease.
Also, a recent study by Panopto shows that on average, staff in companies spend at least 5.3 hours each week waiting to receive the information from their colleagues they need to do their work effectively. Out of the 1001 respondents who participated in this survey, 60% of employees were of the view that -
It is difficult, very difficult, or nearly impossible to obtain information from their colleagues needed to do their job.
One way of addressing this problem is by creating an internal knowledge base. Companies that have an in-house online knowledge platform enjoy a wide range of benefits such as:
1. Better Collaboration Between Teams or Staff
Employee collaboration can be a challenge when different staff is working independently. Creating an internal knowledge base enables your workforce to work on a shared platform. This makes it easy for them to collaborate while creating, writing, and reviewing documents.
2. Instant Sharing of Knowledge Among Employees
Imagine a situation where your staff has to keep requesting information every time they need to complete a task. This is what happens when you have different teams working without a centralized knowledge-sharing platform.
Having an internal knowledge base allows staff to share knowledge with other team members instantly without having to wait for requests. Since all internal knowledge is placed in a centralized platform, employees are able to access it quickly and from any location when the need arises.
3. Increased Employee Productivity
An internal knowledge base reduces the time that employees spend searching or waiting for information they need to complete the tasks at hand or to resolve any questions they have regarding a firm.
This enables them to deliver work efficiently and use their time judiciously in work that matters. As a result, companies can save numerous work hours that are otherwise wasted, which ultimately maximizes their profits.
4. Reduces Training Related Expenses
One of the most expensive activities that companies engage in is - training their employees, especially the newly recruited ones. An internal knowledge base can reduce these costs significantly by eliminating the need to organize offline training sessions.
For instance, rather than participating in actual training, employees can use internal knowledge base content to acquaint themselves with their responsibilities as well as organizational policies and procedures.
Step by Step Guide for Creating Internal Knowledge Base
Creating a knowledge base is a process that involves several steps and will, therefore, take time. It is not a one-time activity. Instead, it is an ongoing process that requires continuous updating of content based on employee feedback and emerging needs.
The beauty of an internal knowledge base is that it will keep you updated on employees' behavior, enabling you to make changes in the content from time to time.
Here is a step by step guide on how to create an internal knowledge base using knowledge base software:
1. Identify Your Requirements
Before you start developing an internal knowledge base, it is important that you first establish why your company needs the knowledge base. Determining the 'why' enables you to have a clear goal in terms of what you want to achieve with the knowledge base.
Some easy ways of establishing why your company needs an internal knowledge base include:
- Evaluating how your company generates, shares and manages knowledge
- Talking to staff regarding knowledge gaps they experience when completing tasks
- Identifying information that staff frequently look for and questions that keep recurring
- Reviewing staff onboarding materials
Having a clear objective in mind helps you to start building an internal knowledge base on the right footing. It also ensures that you create relevant content that is well-aligned with your objective.
2. Select a Suitable Template
When creating a knowledge base, you will need to decide on the style that your content will take and stick to it. One way of doing this is by selecting a suitable template for creating content.
Ideally, your templates should be easy to use and comprehensive enough.
Templates help you structure content e.g., type of titles or headings to use and the kind of information to include in the different sections such as Introduction, Company Objective, etc.
3. Write, Edit, and Upload Content
So, once you have a template in place, the next step is the writing part.
A tool like ProProfs Knowledge Base comes with a powerful MS Word-like editor that helps you write, and make changes to it, that get saved in the revision history, in case you wish to track them.
If you have existing content in different files and folders - PDF, Word docs or PPTs, you can simply import them to your knowledge base. This content will then get converted into meaningful knowledge base articles. Writing content, when you already have it gets redundant. So this technique works best when you already have information in place.
4. Structure Your Knowledge Base
The next step is to organize your information. The best way to do this is by dividing the content into various sections and sub-sections.
Begin by creating the main categories then have sub-categories for each of them. Since your knowledge base is for internal use, you may want to have a section for company mission and vision, products or services, customer service, and human resources.
Ideally, the fewer main categories you have, the better. Consider starting with the most critical sections, so you have them at the top; the rest can come thereafter.
5. Assign Roles
Creating an internal knowledge base is not a one-time activity - it is an ongoing task. To ensure that your employees own the knowledge base, and play an active role in updating it regularly, engage them in the process.
You will need to set up a team and assign responsibilities. The people in this team may be drawn from different departments. Having a team with clear roles enables you to:
- Keep tabs on progress in undertaking specific roles including drafting, review, and publishing of content
- Consistently update the internal knowledge base
- Tap the expertise of different team members
- Increase ownership of the internal knowledge base by employees
6. Customize to Match Your Brand
Branding is essential for the simple reason that it helps you establish a connection with your employees. Imagine if your firm's website, and your knowledge base, look entirely different. It will erase the core message that you are trying to convey.
Your knowledge base is a part of your brand, and therefore, it should speak for your brand. Consider adding your firm's logo and brand name to your knowledge base. Use colors, themes, and fonts, that give a minimal, yet attractive and professional appearance to the content.
7. Control Access
Depending on the information that you place on your internal knowledge base and the organizational policies you have in your company, set access rights for different employees. Using the access options in your knowledge base software, determine permissions in terms of who among your employees can access what content.
8. Make Improvements to Your Knowledge Base
To ensure that content does not become obsolete, it is essential that you establish a mechanism for updating the internal knowledge base regularly. One way of ensuring this is by tasking one of your employees with the responsibility of ensuring that the knowledge base is updated. Also, set timelines for contributors to review published content.
For instance, contributors may be required to review and update their published content at least once per year. For articles that cover fast-changing topics, have your team of contributors schedule reviews each month.
Reports provided by a robust knowledge base tool help you identify content that needs improvement, spot keywords that aren’t performing well, and much more. This makes the work of reviewing and improving content much easier.
Read this blog to know more about How to Create an Internal Knowledge Base.
To be able to create an impressive online knowledge base for your employees, you need to find suitable knowledge base software.
The software you choose is by far the most important decision you will make as you begin to set up your internal knowledge base. This is because your internal knowledge base will only be as good as the knowledge management software that creates it.
Consider asking a few questions can help you pick the most suitable one:
- What features does it have?
- Does it have a robust search function?
- Is the interface simple and user-friendly?
- Can it create article structures, categories, and sub-categories?
- Does it provide permission options based on roles?
- Does it have features that allow you to edit your documents?
- Does it allow users to leave feedback?
- Does it allow you to customize your knowledge base?
- Does it generate reports?
Watch this video to know How to Create an Internal Knowledge Base For Employees:
Making an Internal Knowledge Base Easy to Use
Your employees should find the internal knowledge base easy and interesting to use for them to keep coming back. Here are various ways through which you can achieve this:
1. Interlink the Content
One way to help employees find what they are looking for is by interlinking knowledge base content. By doing so, employees are able to find related content with ease because the links are available in the articles they read.
The best way to make this a best practice is to make an interlinking part of your content strategy. Doing this ensures that content creators search the internal knowledge base for relevant or related content and link articles as they create content.
2. Listen to Employees' Feedback
Create a way for employees to share their feedback regarding their experience with your knowledge base. This feedback is important because it shows you what is working and what is not working.
It also gives you an indication of the challenges that employees may be facing. You can use several strategies to capture employee feedback. These include:
- Running surveys: You can ask those who use the knowledge base to share their experiences. In the survey, you can have them share what they find most challenging and most useful
- System feedback: You can use the knowledge base software to capture employee feedback by helping them rate articles.
The feedback you get from employees should be used to improve the knowledge base so that it responds more to their needs.
3. Publish Content in Formats That Appeal to Readers
Instead of just providing content in text format only, explore other formats that your staff will find more appealing to consume. For instance, you could use the following formats to explain processes or procedures:
4. Update Knowledge Base Content Regularly
Just like a website, an internal knowledge base that does not have fresh content loses taste and becomes dull. Your employees need to keep evolving as the company grows. In the same way, the content in your internal knowledge base should evolve in a way that responds to the changing needs that your employees have.
A great way to ensure that your knowledge base is updated regularly is to have your employees contribute content regularly. This could mean creating fresh content that addressing emerging issues or repurposing existing content to keep it fresh and relevant.
Wrapping It Up
An internal knowledge base is an invaluable asset to your business. Besides streamlining your internal customer service processes, an in-house knowledge platform allows your company to create, manage, and share knowledge from a centralized location.
This provides your business with numerous benefits. Increased employee productivity and efficiency is the most obvious one. With an internal knowledge base, your company can save work hours that your staff would otherwise spend waiting or searching for information.
Other benefits include reduced employee training and onboarding costs, better team collaboration, and timely sharing of information. But creating a knowledge base alone does not guarantee that your business will reap these benefits. Your internal knowledge base should meet specific parameters for your business to benefit.
For instance, the information you place in the knowledge base should be aligned with your employees' needs. As you begin to create an internal knowledge base, follow the steps outlined above. Putting together a knowledge base is a time-consuming process. As such, consider implementing one step at a time. Doing so will ensure that at the knowledge base, you end up with, serves your employees effectively.
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