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Easy to setup internal knowledge base
Set-up an Internal Knowledge Base in 5 Steps
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The idea of starting a new job and meeting new people and learning from them is very exciting. But the first few weeks or even months can be very difficult. Trying to acclimatize yourself with new IT software, company policies, colleagues can be a bit much. You need help and you need information but you don’t even know where to search or who to ask.
This is just one such instance where having a centralized repository of information i.e. an internal knowledge base, openly available to all employees can help. Apart from helping new hires find their feet it has many day-to-day applications as well. For example, if you have questions about your company’s reimbursement process for an expense, you can quickly find the answer in the knowledge base instead of having to reach out to someone from the finance department and wait for their response.
I’ve put together a complete guide to everything you need to know about internal knowledge bases, including:
- What is an internal knowledge base?
- Why should you have one?
- Step-by-step guide to creating an internal KB
- Best internal KB tools available in 2023
Table of Contents
- What is an Internal Knowledge Base?
- 5 Benefits of Creating an Internal Knowledge Base
- Steps to Create an Internal Knowledge Base
- Best Internal Knowledge Base Software in 2023
- Few Things to Keep in Mind
What is an Internal Knowledge Base?
As the name suggests, an internal knowledge base is a digital library where vital company information and resources are stored. As opposed to an external knowledge base, which is created for the benefit of your company’s customers, your internal knowledge base is meant to be used exclusively by your employees.
It is primarily used to organize, store, and distribute information easily among your employees so that they can find the information they need easily. They won’t have to dig through dozens of disorganized folders or reach out to colleagues for help and waste time.
A study shows that employees spend about 25% of their time searching for the information they need to do their jobs! Think about how much time your team could save just by having an effective knowledge management software in place.
What you want to include in your internal knowledge base depends upon the needs of your employees. The goal is to ensure that everyone has what they need to be productive. Generally here’s what companies include:
- Onboarding and training information: Comprehensive resources for new hires including policies, procedures, and training materials.
- Customer FAQs: A repository of answers to frequently asked customer questions.
- Personnel directory: A database of employee contact information and roles within the organization.
- Department-specific information: Tailored content for each department within the company.
- Legal information: Basic information about company policies, compliance, and legal regulations.
Beyond the above categories, an internal knowledge base can include other important data like product information, project documentation, and company records.
5 Benefits of Creating an Internal Knowledge Base
From increased efficiency to happier employees, having an internal knowledge base has numerous benefits. Let’s look at some of the biggest benefits of having one:
1. Efficient employee onboarding and training: An internal knowledge base streamlines the process of onboarding new employees and training them by giving them access to a centralized library of information they can refer to.
If you’re a new hire and want to get up to speed, you could go one of two ways; you could try to keep track of and sift through dozens of PDFs and repeatedly reach out to your new teammates for help. Or you could access all the onboarding and training information you need in one space and go back to it whenever you want to reference it. Which one sounds better?
Whether it’s corporate policies, video tutorials, holiday schedules, or modules on the company’s product or service, your employee can easily get all this information in one place and focus on settling into their role. It makes their experience a lot easier and stress-free and reduces the time they take to hit the ground running.
2. Quick access to information: Employees can easily access any important information, saving them time searching for answers. This quick access enhances overall productivity..
Consider, for example, a scenario where a support agent receives a query from a customer. Instead of spending time consulting with other team members or trying to go through a plethora of internal emails to find the answer, the agent can use the knowledge base to quickly find a troubleshooting guide and help out the customer in minutes. This will lead to faster resolutions and happier customers.
3. Improved collaboration: Having department-specific information such as workflows or personnel directories promotes increased collaboration between employees working in different departments or functions. When the entire organization has access to the same information, it becomes a lot easier to solve problems and come up with new ideas.
Additionally, there are no bottlenecks preventing communication of information. If an employee needs some information from someone in another department and the person is on vacation or out sick, they can just reference the knowledge base instead of having to wait for them to come back.
Overall there’s greater transparency across the organization and improved efficiency.
4. Knowledge Retention: An internal knowledge base also serves as a repository of valuable expertise and information that’s preserved even when employees leave the organization.
Say for example that a company had a long-time employee – John Smith, who was key in developing and maintaining the company’s proprietary manufacturing process for a specialized product. John Smith is leaving the company. His departure could potentially create a knowledge-gap and the company could lose out on his expertise and experience. In such a case, the company could work with him to create a document for their knowledge base including detailed process descriptions, troubleshooting tips, and best practices. This way they can retain the knowledge and expertise of employees.
It goes without saying that such documents are supposed to be constantly reviewed and edited to keep them up to date. Such a resource is invaluable for training new hires and maintaining a process of how things are done.
5. Increased employee retention: When employees have access to a knowledge base that provides them with the information and resources they need to perform their jobs effectively, they feel more empowered and confident in their roles. This sense of empowerment can lead to higher job satisfaction and a greater sense of accomplishment, which are factors that contribute to employee retention.
On top of that, knowledge bases often contain training materials and opportunities for upskilling. Employees who have access to these resources can continuously improve their skills and advance in their careers within the company.
Steps to Create an Internal Knowledge Base
Now that we’re on the same page about the ‘what’ and the ‘why’ of an internal knowledge base, let’s dive into the process of creating one. Here are 5 steps you need to take to create a robust internal knowledge base:
1. Crafting your Knowledge Base Strategy
The first step in creating an internal knowledge base is to have a plan.. You’ll need a strategy for it without which you might veer off course and you’ll end up with a help center that’s helping no one.
To avoid this, there’s a few things you need to be clear about before you start creating content that’ll go into your knowledge base:
- Who is your audience? Who will be the main users of said knowledge base? Some knowledge bases might be company-wide, while others might cater specifically to departments like Sales or IT. Alongside this, it’s essential to gauge the expertise level among your users. A knowledge base should cater to a spectrum, from the inquisitive new hire to the seasoned company veteran.
- What goals are you trying to achieve? This could be anything from reducing the time employees spend searching for information to decreasing the frequency of redundant queries directed at HR or IT. Once you know your goals and audience, you’ll know what information to include in your knowledge base.
- Where are the gaps in your current system for knowledge management and sharing? If you have pre-existing resources that your employees used to reference, evaluate them to identify any weak areas.
2. Selecting the Right Knowledge Base Tool for your Business
Once you have a clear strategy for your internal knowledge base, the next step is to decide on the suitable tool you’ll use. This choice will significantly influence the user experience, the ease of content management, and the overall effectiveness of the knowledge base. Here are some key features you should look for when buying the software:
- Integration with your support software – When an internal knowledge base is closely integrated with other support tools, agents can effortlessly access required information without having to switch between different systems. Ideally, it should be an extension of your support software. Your support agents will save time and be more productive and your customers will have a better experience.
- Ease of use – You’ll want a tool which is intuitive and user-friendly. Your employees should be able to navigate the tool and find the information they’re looking for with ease. It’s also essential that the platform offers a responsive design, adapting seamlessly to both desktop and mobile devices, as the modern workforce often access information on the go.
- Content management and organization – Your tool should let you organize content using categories, sub-categories, and tags to make the knowledge base more structured and navigable. You should also be able to customize the design and layout to align with your brand’s identity. Another important feature to look for is customizable permissions – admins can control who can view, edit, and publish content in the knowledge base. This is important to keep the information secure and accurate.
- Scalability – As the company grows and evolves, so will its knowledge base needs. Opting for software that can accommodate an expanding volume of content and a growing user base, ensures that the platform remains viable in the long term.
- Powerful search function – The primary goal of an internal knowledge base is to allow your employees to find any information they need quickly. Powerful search capabilities are a very important factor to consider when choosing the right knowledge base tool. Some things you must look out for within the search function are – predictive typing, keyword recognition, filtering, and error tolerance.
Some other features that you should keep an eye out for are good vendor support and analytics and reporting.
By good vendor support, I mean tools with teams behind them that are eager to help you make the most of it. Some indicators of this are knowledgeable support staff, timely responses, and a commitment to the growth and success of the client.
A tool like Hiver checks all the boxes when it comes to vendor support. “The support that you get with Hiver is second to none” says Bobby G. a Hiver user.
Analytics and reports will help you understand user behavior. What articles are being viewed the most? What are your employees searching for? These insights will help you identify any gaps in content.
3. Putting Together a Knowledge Base Team
Next, you need to assemble a team from among your employees that’ll be dedicated to the research, review, and maintenance of all the content in your internal knowledge base. This job cannot be done by one person. You will need a team made up of contributors from different departments who can collaborate with team members across the organization because they’ll bring in different sets of skills, experience, and insights.
Additionally, you must assign them individual roles beforehand such as writers, editors, and administrators. The roles of writers and editors is as the name suggests. The role of a knowledge base admin, however, should be given to employees that understand various departments and the overall goal of the knowledge base. They will oversee the content that goes on the knowledge base and also grant access to secured information to employees on the basis of their roles and responsibilities.
Assigning roles beforehand will allow greater transparency and accountability within this team. Everyone will know what they’re responsible for and the team can work together seamlessly without disruptions.
4. Adding Content and Launching the Knowledge Base
The next step is to begin adding content to your knowledge base. Start by identifying key topics by conducting sessions with stakeholders, including team members, potential users, and other relevant parties. You can also do this by analyzing any available data, like FAQs or common issues raised by team members or customers, to ascertain what information needs to be documented.
Next, collate any existing guides, manuals, FAQ documents, video tutorials, or any other instructional materials that your organization already possesses. Ensure that the existing content is up-to-date and relevant to the current practices, technologies, and products/services of the organization.
Develop new content on the topics you identified by involving your team of experts to ensure that you get detailed, accurate answers. You can use knowledge base article templates to maintain consistency across all the new content.
Recommended Read: How to Create Great Knowledge Base Articles: Tips & Templates
Before you launch the page for use by your employees, the last step would be to organize the content following a fixed hierarchical structure. You can do this in a few ways –
By departments –
- Customer Service
Further break it down into subcategories, like for HR – Recruitment, Training, Policies, Employee Benefits.
By user types –
- New employees
- Design team
This will allow employees to clearly identify content that is relevant to them so they can find and access it quicker.
By frequently asked questions –
- IT-related queries
- Expense reimbursement
- Benefits and compensation
- Referral Policy
This method will allow your users to directly go to the section relevant to their query and get information quickly.
5. Review and Maintenance of Knowledge Base
Your internal knowledge base is live and your employees are making good use of it. But no matter how well your knowledge base is working out, it’s crucial that you keep going back to it and make regular revisions and updates. Failing this, your knowledge base will become outdated, your content will no longer be helpful, and information will fall through the cracks. Even something as small as an employee getting promoted must be updated.
Moreover, you must review and identify the most-viewed articles and search patterns of users to figure out if you can modify the content to make it more helpful. For instance, if an employee has made many searches on the same topic, then that topic hasn’t been covered well enough or at all. You can then get your team to make the necessary revisions to solve this issue.
Best Internal Knowledge Base Software in 2023
Now that you have gone through everything you need to know to build your internal knowledge base, it’s time to choose a software and get started. I’ve listed below the top options available in 2023.
Hiver is a customer support platform that works on top of Gmail. Hiver’s knowledge base feature can help you easily build, host, and monitor a centralized library of help articles that your employees can refer to anytime. If we go back to the features you should look out for in your internal knowledge base tool, you’ll find Hiver fits the bill quite well.
Since it works on top of Gmail, the interface is quite familiar and easy to navigate. The tool on the whole is quite intuitive and does not require a lot of extensive training or getting used to. Your employees won’t need to spend a lot of time acquainting themselves with it and can set it up and get started in no time.
Hiver lets you organize your articles under defined categories which allow your knowledge base users to easily locate the information they’re searching for.
You can even control the look and feel of the knowledge base and tailor it to your brand identity for a seamless user experience.
Hiver’s vendor support is unmatched too. Irrespective of which plan you choose, you have access to 24×7 support. You can connect to trained agents immediately in case you have any questions..
SharePoint, primarily known as a web-based collaboration platform, is also a good choice if you’re looking for an internal knowledge base tool. Since it’s a product of Microsoft, those familiar with other Microsoft products will find it relatively easier to adopt the tool.
One of its key features is its seamless integration with the Microsoft Office suite. This means documents created in Word, Excel, or PowerPoint can be easily stored, shared, and edited within SharePoint, making the flow of information consistent and smooth.
SharePoint also offers a powerful search engine. This is especially useful for large knowledge bases where finding the right piece of information quickly is essential.
While SharePoint offers numerous advantages, it also comes with challenges. Some users find it complicated to use, and there might be a steeper learning curve compared to other platforms. Additionally, the high degree of customizability means organizations often need dedicated IT teams or experts to set up and manage the platform effectively.
Tettra is an internal knowledge base or a company wiki software. The tool is easy to navigate and acts as a central platform where companies can document their vital processes, policies, and procedures.
One of Tettra’s standout features is its proactive suggestion engine. It assesses user interactions and content relevance, advising on what content should be added, updated, or archived, thus ensuring the knowledge base remains dynamic and relevant.
Tettra has been designed to cater to organizations of varying sizes. From startups operating on a tight budget to large enterprises seeking advanced features, Tettra’s scalable offerings make it a versatile choice.
4. Document 360
Document 360 is a comprehensive platform that helps create a self-service knowledge base for your employees. It has a clean, minimalistic user interface which makes it easy to get started with.
One of the reasons Document 360 makes it to the list of the best internal knowledge base tools in 2023 is because it boasts a powerful search functionality that’s powered by AI. Users can find the content they’re looking for instantly just by entering keywords and/or tags.
Another feature that sets it apart is its powerful editor. It allows you the option to use multiple text editors – both markdown and traditional HTML. This makes it a flexible option for both technical and non-technical users.
Lastly, Document360’s advanced support team provides users with 24/7 automated support within the platform. With Document 360’s ticketing system, a user can log a ticket within the platform and have access to on-call support for instant access.
Zendesk is a customer service platform that offers an internal knowledge base as a feature.
Zendesk offers insights into what your employees are looking for and whether or not they’re finding the answers through in-built reports. This helps you identify content gaps and create guides and FAQs that are of relevance.
One of Zendesk’s unique features is that it gives you the ability to translate the content into 40 different languages. This creates a smoother experience for the user as they can refer to the content in a language that they’re most comfortable with.
However, one thing to note about Zendesk’s knowledge base is that setting it up can be quite complicated. It’s user interface is also a little intimidating.
Few Things to Keep in Mind
You’re all set to get started with the process of building a knowledge base for your employees. Talk to your employees and craft a strategy and then pick a tool that has all the features you need. As a final note, here are a few quick pointers on the best practices needed, to ensure your internal knowledge base runs smoothly and provides value to all your employees –
- Prioritize clarity – Instead of cramming everything into one single ‘ultimate guide’, try to break down the subject into smaller, easily searchable chunks. One long article with a dozen sub-sections negates the goal of making information easy to find.
- Encourage engagement – Power-up some interactive features like comments, polls, and feedback to gather more inputs from your employees.
- Focus on SEO – Make sure all your content is SEO-optimized to boost your articles’ visibility. Using relevant keywords, avoiding duplicate content, and using clear headings and subheadings are some good practices when creating KB articles.
- Monitor Progress – Lastly, monitor how your KB is doing by keeping track of search analytics. This will be useful in updating and adding new content to your KB.