What’s in your company knowledge base content?
We’ve written previously about the benefits of knowledge management; there’s tremendous value found in the culture of continuous improvement that effective knowledge management enables. A great knowledge base, however, is the bedrock for every learning organization. Below are three business artifacts that every company needs to include in their knowledge base content strategy.
What’s In Your Knowledge Base?
Your company’s knowledge base should be the repository for mission-critical documentation. Effective documentation can help your organization reduce the hidden costs of poor knowledge management, such as wasted search time and information rework. However, aspiring knowledge workers need to be careful: a mismanaged knowledge base can be just as painful! It’s not enough to simply aggregate large quantities of knowledge. A proper knowledge base is carefully pruned of bloated content and repeatedly checked for accuracy.
While a company’s knowledge base content will vary greatly, every company will benefit from some common documentation. These are valuable artifacts for all employees, and may be especially helpful for new hires. Every company should have:
- A business glossary: A collection of business terms and their usage within a company. The glossary is designed to foster a common, collective understanding among all employees.
- Workflow diagrams: A visualization of the company’s critical business processes. These diagrams should capture a high-level view of the workflows that deliver value to customers.
- A list of software systems: A high-level overview of the most commonly-used software systems and tools.
Your Knowledge Base Content Should Capture Business Vocabulary
A business glossary is an excellent way to reduce ambiguities in the language of the company. The business glossary is a framework that defines unique terms and special nuance given to common (and often vague) words. In particular, the business glossary is a bridge between stakeholders and IT resources. It defines the common language that becomes the backbone for IT data management and information governance.
For example, consider the simple term “customer.” Who are the customers of your business? It’s common to receive very different answers; your IT helpdesk, sales team, and actuary department may well have differing definitions for who is considered a customer. Imagine how baffling it might be to review customer-centered metrics from each of these departments!
Create a shared business vocabulary and capture it in your knowledge base content. Move beyond common definitions and connect it to other useful information. Also define the business relationships between terms and any associated business rules. Linking terms in the glossary to other IT assets enriches the knowledge base content and drives collaboration.
Your Knowledge Base Content Should Include Core Workflows
A central component of your knowledge base content should be your most critical business workflows. These are the value streams that deliver products to your customers! Preserving this knowledge will reap enormous benefits in the areas of team collaboration, knowledge reuse, and other future projects.
Workflows – especially when they adhere to content quality standards are valuable for all employees to absorb. They help teach the company’s day-to-day activities. More importantly, they quickly establish the baseline for learning what the company does.
For extra benefit, link your workflows to the terms in your business glossary!
Your Knowledge Base Content Should List Important Software Systems
Does your company use any major software suites? Host external websites? Rely on vendors?
A valuable piece of content for your knowledge base is a high-level overview of important software products. This may be off-the-shelf products (like Microsoft SharePoint or Outlook) or internal, custom built software solutions. It should include software hosted (or relied upon) by trading partners, and anything customer-facing.
This is a fantastic resource for new employees who need to know what’s available. The overview serves as a hub for other, related content like software tools, product owners, uptime and availability requirements, and more. A wide range of useful metadata can grow from this list, which will ultimately enrich your knowledge base content.
These three business artifacts are only the beginning of a rich, well-groomed knowledge base. Leverage a business glossary, workflow diagrams, and software overview as part of your knowledge base content strategy. They are a great start to documentation that will remedy some of the common pain points found in IT projects.
Your Knowledge Base: Where to Go Next
There may be incredible opportunities to improve your company’s knowledge base. Contact Xorbix to talk about your existing knowledge base content strategy and brainstorm new opportunities to develop a culture of learning for your business.