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Opinion

4 reasons you need to build a Knowledge Base

What's a Knowledge Base and why do I need one?

Connor Ward

Connor Ward

People want an answer, and they want it now.

But, how do you respond if you’re out of the office? Or working in a different timezone? Some businesses are adopting chatbots, but a cheaper (and easier) option is to invest in a solid knowledge base. Done right, these self-service libraries give your user the information they need when they need it.

You’ve probably come across one as a customer. Many online products use them to support their users, with companies like Mailchimp dedicating entire teams to it.

However, we’re here to talk about one type of knowledge base only: an internal library to help your employees do their job.

1. Wasting time

We’ve all been there. Headphones in, deep in a text editor. You’re on a roll, tearing through paragraph after paragraph. Then, someone comes up to you and asks you how to work the printer. You try to get stuck back in, but you just can’t.

So, what’s the best thing about building a knowledge base? They’re completely self-service. This means everyone finds their own answers, without taking up someone else’s time.

It goes without saying that the first thing your knowledge base should do is this: answer your employee’s FAQs. And then one day, with enough time put in your knowledge base, you’ll be able to pre-empt your employee’s queries. For example, a big part of our knowledge library is for our developers. They’ve got an impossible number of tools and protocols that need to be learned. Whenever they need it, there’s a piece of content ready to guide them.

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2. Onboarding new staff

The group who’ll need your knowledge base the most are your new starters, so ensure your early knowledge content is aimed at them. In fact, moving your entire onboarding process onto your knowledge base has a few key advantages.

First of all, time and resources spent on training will be reduced. Secondly, you’ll be able to gather easy, quantifiable data about your onboarding process.

Every knowledge article in Twine comes with simple a thumb-up thumb-down “Was this feature useful?” vote. It’s a pretty easy way for you to gauge whether your staff are actually being ‘onboarded’ or not. If you wanted a bit more data, you could go for a deeper dive on Google Analytics (hint: make sure you pay attention to avg. time on page).

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3. Surviving loss of key staff

No industry is safe from disruption. If you want to stay ahead you’ll need the expertise to take you there. But teams often lose this when someone leaves or is promoted.

To stop your business leaking knowledge, you’ll need to leverage insights from your current employees. A great place to start would be the onboarding content we just discussed. Start by designating writing privileges to your team leaders as they’ll know the sort of content their departments need, and then encourage them to keep on building.

4. Working from the same playbook

Staying on top of change is hard. With a knowledge library, you can ensure everyone has the latest information. You don’t need a 10 person team, but you’ll need to ensure that team leaders are keeping their categories up to date and relevant to your business’s current objectives.

There are a couple ways we’ve tried to make this easier with Twine. First, there’s the mandatory read feature where you assign and alert groups to certain articles, and then review who has actually read them. Second, there’s a little reminder tool on the edit page of each article that alerts you to when an article might be out of date.

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Getting ready for your knowledge library

Building a knowledge library requires a lot of groundwork. So before you begin building your knowledge library ask yourself: what could we do better? You’re looking for the pain points unique to your organisation that you’re knowledge library can begin to tackle.

Once you’ve done that, you can start putting together the content with Twine. But just remember: “Your library can look good, but if the content is poorly structured, the whole thing will fall down.”