According to McKinsey, employees spend 20% of their time looking for the information they need to complete a task. Productivity can be increased by dramatically reduce this time using a well maintained knowledge base providing easy access to up-to-date information.
This is the case for internal processes, as well as for users of enterprise applications. A knowledge base simplifies sharing information, and can improve collaboration between silos within organisations, or with partners and customers.
Creating and maintaining a knowledge base to achieve these benefits requires a dedicated process and clear lines of responsibility.
What is a knowledge base?
A knowledge base is a repository of information that people can draw on. The information is structured and the content controlled to ensure that it is accurate and easy to find.
The content may be product focused, such as support content, or procedure focused, such as training for a new starter.
Benefits of a knowledge base
A knowledge base improves productivity in the following ways:
- Saving people time when looking for information by making it easy to find and share information
- Empowering individuals by making available the information they need to carry out an activity
- Reducing the amount of reworking by ensuring information sources are up to date
Knowledge bases can be used to encourage collaboration between teams by enabling individuals to provide feedback. This feedback can then be incorporated into the knowledge base, so continuously improving the content and retaining organisational knowledge.
Maintaining a knowledge base
To realise the benefits of a knowledge base the content must be accurate and relevant.
A knowledge base that has a plethora of information will take too much time to find the right information. And if that information is incorrect, people will waste more time by undoing the work they have done.
A robust process for maintaining and updating the knowledge base ensures that content is accurate and up to date, and obsolete content is removed.
Creating a knowledge base
It is tempting to use an off-the-shelf knowledge base, for example, one that is provided with a support ticket application. However, these are typically FAQ focused and tend to result in a proliferation of content which leads to duplication and obsolete content.
When creating a knowledge base, you should focus on the people that will use the information provided, for example, customers, DevOps, or staff training.
By identifying their needs, you can build an appropriate structure and process for creating and maintaining the knowledge base.
Poorly managed knowledge bases become bloated and obsolete. So it is important to have a robust process for maintaining the content with clear lines of responsibility and accountability.
doc-department can deliver and maintain knowledge bases as part of an outsourced technical communications solution.