How to Create a Knowledge Base for Hybrid Teams
Having quick and easy access to information is crucial in the fast-paced digital workplace. It supports cross-functional collaboration and enables teams to execute efficiently to drive organizational growth and improve a company's agility and swiftness.
A knowledge base can be a valuable resource for both new employees and established personnel alike, providing a central repository where everyone can find and share information critical to their work.
In addition to facilitating internal operations, knowledge bases are great sources of value for external-facing activities. For example, they can help IT teams or customer service personnel swamped by support tickets to enable customers to find solutions on their own.
But what exactly is a knowledge base, how does it work, and how can companies go about creating one?
What Is a Knowledge Base?
A knowledge base is a self-service library or repository that contains information about a particular topic, product or service. The data collected in a knowledge base can include many different things, from an FAQ about a product, a manual or guide about a service, or documentation about organizational processes within a department.
Having a knowledge base is essential for ensuring easy access to information, said Craig Tuttle, senior SEO analyst at Addison, Texas-based digital marketing agency Globerunner.
"In our case, we are creating processes of exactly how we do various forms of digital marketing for our clients," he said. "This makes things congruent whether I take on the task or one of our junior members takes it on."
Digital Transformation Accelerated Need for Knowledge Management
Knowledge bases are making strides in popularity thanks to the digital transformation taking place at many companies. As one would expect, the pandemic also helped accelerate that trend considerably.
"Knowledge bases have become popular with the move to platform-based, virtual workspaces," said Archie Payne, CEO of California staffing and recruiting firm Caltek Staffing. "With less social interaction, many of us naturally engage less with each other, which hampers the flow of communication and knowledge."
Knowledge bases can solve these problems by centralizing all necessary data in a hub. In turn, this facilitates collaboration and accessibility, regardless of employees' location.
Related Article: 8 Strategies for Effective Knowledge Management in the Workplace
4 Benefits of Having a Knowledge Base
By providing centralized access to templates, guides or procedural manuals, knowledge bases make it easy for organizations to ensure client deliverables are consistent. They also minimize the risk of errors when processes or other elements are updated.
Support Autonomy and Initiative
"It is far easier to search for information yourself than having to contact your boss or ask colleagues for assistance," Payne said. As a result, employees can become more self-sufficient, solve problems more quickly, feel empowered to take action and minimize unnecessary interruptions.
Speed Up Onboarding and Training
A knowledge base is of great value to HR teams because it allows for all standard documentation and personnel sheets to be filed in one place. This not only supports the team's day-to-day activities but also improves the employee experience by enabling them to find the information they need, whether that is regarding the corporate holiday schedule, PTO policy, performance reviews or training opportunities.
Payne said this works particularly well for hybrid teams that are able to "upskill" themselves using consistent documentation. "The same material can be used for training new employees and for refresher courses for existing employees," he said.
Improve Resource Allocation
A knowledge base that contains all of a company's processes can make it much easier to spot inefficiencies and re-allocate resources. "It frees up the more senior-level team to do higher level work instead of being bogged down by something that other people on the team can do by following the process sheet," said Tuttle.
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4 Tips for Creating a Knowledge Management Strategy
Knowledge bases can be valuable, but getting started can be challenging and requires a strategy. Here are some helpful tips for building a knowledge management strategy.
Decide on Your Purpose
Having a knowledge base can help businesses in several ways. Managers may first want to determine whether spending the time and resources required to create one aligns with the company's goals and will reap the sought-after benefits.
According to Tomek Mlodzki, CEO of PhotoAiD, an AI-based photo app, knowledge bases have one purpose: to boost productivity levels and efficiency. "Knowledge management, when done right, can attract the support of stakeholders who can further drive business objectives through support or funding," he said.
Choose the Structure
There are different ways to structure a knowledge base depending on the type of business. A detailed landing page may be most effective for some companies, while a smaller FAQ section may suffice for others. The common thread for success is a knowledge base that groups data by topic to make the information indexable and easy to find.
Creating content may sound like the easy part of the knowledge base implementation, but it must be thought out from the start. What type of content should be included in the database? Most knowledge bases feature written content that is easily searchable. However, companies shouldn’t hesitate to include visuals or Loom recordings that help enhance the written content.
"We started creating ours by having templates with questions we can answer for each process that we deliver," said Tuttle. "Then we create a document answering those questions in extreme detail, so someone can pick it up and perform the task."
Publish and Maintain
The final step, to publish the content, is an obvious one, but maintaining the database is critical to deliver long-term ROI. A company may wish to assign an individual or team responsible for keeping up with the content contained in the knowledge base to ensure it remains relevant and up-to-date. What's more, it is as equally important to publish the content where everyone can access it, or the initiative will be for naught.