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3 Reasons You Need a Company Knowledge Base

July 28, 2022

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Between FAQs, directories, and long lists of standard operating procedures, making sure employees have access to everything they need to know can be… challenging.

Having an easily accessible, one-stop spot with all of your most needed (and valuable) information can keep everyone productive and on the same page.

The easiest way to conceptualize it is to think about what your company's hard drive would look like if it were totally organized, easy to get to, and simple to read. Sort of like if someone made an encyclopedia about your business operations.

The collection of all this information is called a “knowledge base,” and it’s time you build one of your own.

What is a knowledge base?

A knowledge base is an easy-to-access collection of all your organization’s most need-to-know information.

It can include product info, contact directories, and standard operating procedures. Because your business is unique, your knowledge base might look a little different than someone else’s.

Why are knowledge bases important?

Are there any processes or procedures that only one person in your organization can execute to a tee?

If the answer is yes, you should also ask yourself what would happen if that expert were unreachable. Or, maybe you’re the expert that everyone reaches out to (be honest, how many work calls do you take during PTO?).

A knowledge base is key because smooth operations run on shared information, not tribal knowledge.

A repository of information makes onboarding easier, helps avoid communication-related hiccups, and keeps employees from having to depend on higher-ups for answers to simple questions.

With a central hub that has all the answers, your team can stay productive even when experts aren’t around to answer questions.

And it’s more than an instruction manual. A knowledge base can be as engaging or detailed as you want it to be. You can include images, charts, and videos to help you capture all of the important information your team needs to succeed.

A young girl making a mind exploding motion with her hands.

What do I put in a company knowledge base?

Directories.

Seems obvious, but how often do you send out emails about other people’s email addresses?

A directory that houses names, titles, and pertinent contact info helps everyone avoid the frustration of scavenging through old email chains. It may help to have different directories for various groups of people like clients, service providers, or vendors.

Being able to easily phone a friend in times of crisis and miscommunication can make a world of difference.

Organizational Charts.

An organizational chart is a representation of how your organization is structured. It details who reports to whom and how each of your departments are organized.

While this may seem immediately useful for HR and payroll purposes, understanding your organizational structure also streamlines communication. It guarantees that the right people are being looped in on important conversations and keeps supervisors and support staff accountable for their responsibilities.

It can also be a huge help to your onboarding employees who are juggling new names, responsibilities, and operating procedures. It makes it easy and painless for them to get ahold of the right people when they have questions.

Calendars.

Keeping everyone in the loop about important dates can help effectively budget time across departments. Everyone should be aware of closures, trainings, and upcoming events.

Your calendar can keep your team working towards the same goals, even if they are working on different projects.

Research.

Whether you have a niche consumer base or are trying to shift demographics, keeping your team in the loop about who you’re working to reach ensures consistency.

Keep market research, existing campaigns, and pertinent consumer information in one spot to streamline outreach.

Having a team that actively promotes, maintains, and projects your organizational values not only protects your brand image but also establishes a workplace culture.

Your business playbook.

A business playbook lays out your business’ strategies and policies.

It’s an important part of your company’s knowledge base. If you don’t have a business playbook, putting one together can elevate the way you operate.

A business playbook can help employees tackle complex problems by suggesting best practices, demonstrating examples through case studies, and outlining standard operating procedures.

Standard operating procedures (SOPs) keep businesses afloat. These company-specific guidelines detail instructions for important business practices and day-to-day processes. Ensuring that everyone understands your SOPs keeps operations out of choppy waters and helps guarantee smooth sailing.

Knowing all SOPs in full detail can be difficult. This is especially true if you’re scaling up and changing processes or onboarding new team members.

Housing your SOPs in your knowledge base means avoiding confusion over updated processes and allowing your new team members to learn the ropes independently (once they’re ready, of course).

How is a company knowledge base going to help my business?

1. It keeps things consistent.

As the saying goes, “the only constant is change.”

From scaling up to maximizing efficiency, organizational transformations are more common than they seem and less successful than most businesses bargain for.

In fact, McKinsey reports that less than one-third of surveyed businesses were able to successfully implement and maintain organizational changes.

Even if you don’t see your business intentionally changing, things like turnover, new management, or market disruptions affect all businesses — even the ones that are long established.

Regardless of whether you anticipate it or not, change is bound to happen.

The best thing you can do to prepare for change is to give your team the tools they need to keep things consistent and offer access to reliable information for when they need to pivot.

It cuts back on miscommunication, helping everyone avoid running through several points of contact before settling on a solution.

Well-seasoned and new employees get to make the right decisions quickly. Better yet, the action that your team takes is consistent with your organization's goals regardless of how often they change (for better or worse).

2. Make onboarding fast.

Onboarding can seem like a chore.

Going through the motions of teaching new employees the skills and knowledge they’ll need to be a part of your team can be overwhelming. It may take months for them to fully understand the nuances of their roles, and odds are, you don’t have that kind of time.

Giving them access to a knowledge base means you get to spend less time hand-holding as they master SOPs and uncover best practices. They can start practicing and applying what they know in the full capacity of their role, rather than as a “trainee.”

It’s a continuous support system that new employees can refer to when things get confusing (but it’s not just for the newbies — knowledge sharing helps everyone).

You’ll save time and resources (ahem, dollars) by supporting your employees as they onboard, both in terms of the training process and in avoiding turnover.

3. Make time for what matters.

Keep your business growing without making frequent trips back to square one.

The initial investment of building a knowledge base that’ll last is worth it — especially when you consider how much can be lost without one. From losing team superstars to retiring your most veteran expert, keeping valuable information within your organization is crucial.

Why? Because you already started from the ground up once, and there’s no need to do it all over again.

Even if you aren’t anticipating monumental team changes (though it’s always wise to prepare), your knowledge base means you get to cut back on rehashing the same details you’ve gone over countless times during development meetings.

It allows you to address processes for low-level tasks (that are still really, really important) without sacrificing your organization’s time and bandwidth for discussing high-level goals.

How do I get started?

Putting together a living hub of your company’s most valuable information might sound like a lot.

You can avoid feeling totally overwhelmed by starting small and working your way up to more complex information.

Knock out your directories, org charts, and calendars first. This information is pretty straightforward. You might even already have it collected somewhere else, so all you have to do is rehome it to a more comprehensive document.

Look at this as a collaborative effort. Task different departments with contributing reports for the sake of compiling research and case studies, and ask your MVPs to weigh in on what they wish they knew on day one.

In fact, having everyone share SOPs, best practices, and other tribal knowledge they may be holding on to will help you create a robust knowledge base.

And you can collect this information piecemeal.

It doesn’t have to all be done in one sitting. Once you have everything together, organizing it in a way that is comprehensive and easy to follow is an important step in making it useable information.

Explore different options — you might be surprised by how easy some knowledge management solutions are to use.

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Article

3 Reasons You Need a Company Knowledge Base

July 28, 2022

Jump to a section
Share it!
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You're all signed up! Look out for the next edition of The Manual Weekly coming Wednesday am!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

Between FAQs, directories, and long lists of standard operating procedures, making sure employees have access to everything they need to know can be… challenging.

Having an easily accessible, one-stop spot with all of your most needed (and valuable) information can keep everyone productive and on the same page.

The easiest way to conceptualize it is to think about what your company's hard drive would look like if it were totally organized, easy to get to, and simple to read. Sort of like if someone made an encyclopedia about your business operations.

The collection of all this information is called a “knowledge base,” and it’s time you build one of your own.

What is a knowledge base?

A knowledge base is an easy-to-access collection of all your organization’s most need-to-know information.

It can include product info, contact directories, and standard operating procedures. Because your business is unique, your knowledge base might look a little different than someone else’s.

Why are knowledge bases important?

Are there any processes or procedures that only one person in your organization can execute to a tee?

If the answer is yes, you should also ask yourself what would happen if that expert were unreachable. Or, maybe you’re the expert that everyone reaches out to (be honest, how many work calls do you take during PTO?).

A knowledge base is key because smooth operations run on shared information, not tribal knowledge.

A repository of information makes onboarding easier, helps avoid communication-related hiccups, and keeps employees from having to depend on higher-ups for answers to simple questions.

With a central hub that has all the answers, your team can stay productive even when experts aren’t around to answer questions.

And it’s more than an instruction manual. A knowledge base can be as engaging or detailed as you want it to be. You can include images, charts, and videos to help you capture all of the important information your team needs to succeed.

A young girl making a mind exploding motion with her hands.

What do I put in a company knowledge base?

Directories.

Seems obvious, but how often do you send out emails about other people’s email addresses?

A directory that houses names, titles, and pertinent contact info helps everyone avoid the frustration of scavenging through old email chains. It may help to have different directories for various groups of people like clients, service providers, or vendors.

Being able to easily phone a friend in times of crisis and miscommunication can make a world of difference.

Organizational Charts.

An organizational chart is a representation of how your organization is structured. It details who reports to whom and how each of your departments are organized.

While this may seem immediately useful for HR and payroll purposes, understanding your organizational structure also streamlines communication. It guarantees that the right people are being looped in on important conversations and keeps supervisors and support staff accountable for their responsibilities.

It can also be a huge help to your onboarding employees who are juggling new names, responsibilities, and operating procedures. It makes it easy and painless for them to get ahold of the right people when they have questions.

Calendars.

Keeping everyone in the loop about important dates can help effectively budget time across departments. Everyone should be aware of closures, trainings, and upcoming events.

Your calendar can keep your team working towards the same goals, even if they are working on different projects.

Research.

Whether you have a niche consumer base or are trying to shift demographics, keeping your team in the loop about who you’re working to reach ensures consistency.

Keep market research, existing campaigns, and pertinent consumer information in one spot to streamline outreach.

Having a team that actively promotes, maintains, and projects your organizational values not only protects your brand image but also establishes a workplace culture.

Your business playbook.

A business playbook lays out your business’ strategies and policies.

It’s an important part of your company’s knowledge base. If you don’t have a business playbook, putting one together can elevate the way you operate.

A business playbook can help employees tackle complex problems by suggesting best practices, demonstrating examples through case studies, and outlining standard operating procedures.

Standard operating procedures (SOPs) keep businesses afloat. These company-specific guidelines detail instructions for important business practices and day-to-day processes. Ensuring that everyone understands your SOPs keeps operations out of choppy waters and helps guarantee smooth sailing.

Knowing all SOPs in full detail can be difficult. This is especially true if you’re scaling up and changing processes or onboarding new team members.

Housing your SOPs in your knowledge base means avoiding confusion over updated processes and allowing your new team members to learn the ropes independently (once they’re ready, of course).

How is a company knowledge base going to help my business?

1. It keeps things consistent.

As the saying goes, “the only constant is change.”

From scaling up to maximizing efficiency, organizational transformations are more common than they seem and less successful than most businesses bargain for.

In fact, McKinsey reports that less than one-third of surveyed businesses were able to successfully implement and maintain organizational changes.

Even if you don’t see your business intentionally changing, things like turnover, new management, or market disruptions affect all businesses — even the ones that are long established.

Regardless of whether you anticipate it or not, change is bound to happen.

The best thing you can do to prepare for change is to give your team the tools they need to keep things consistent and offer access to reliable information for when they need to pivot.

It cuts back on miscommunication, helping everyone avoid running through several points of contact before settling on a solution.

Well-seasoned and new employees get to make the right decisions quickly. Better yet, the action that your team takes is consistent with your organization's goals regardless of how often they change (for better or worse).

2. Make onboarding fast.

Onboarding can seem like a chore.

Going through the motions of teaching new employees the skills and knowledge they’ll need to be a part of your team can be overwhelming. It may take months for them to fully understand the nuances of their roles, and odds are, you don’t have that kind of time.

Giving them access to a knowledge base means you get to spend less time hand-holding as they master SOPs and uncover best practices. They can start practicing and applying what they know in the full capacity of their role, rather than as a “trainee.”

It’s a continuous support system that new employees can refer to when things get confusing (but it’s not just for the newbies — knowledge sharing helps everyone).

You’ll save time and resources (ahem, dollars) by supporting your employees as they onboard, both in terms of the training process and in avoiding turnover.

3. Make time for what matters.

Keep your business growing without making frequent trips back to square one.

The initial investment of building a knowledge base that’ll last is worth it — especially when you consider how much can be lost without one. From losing team superstars to retiring your most veteran expert, keeping valuable information within your organization is crucial.

Why? Because you already started from the ground up once, and there’s no need to do it all over again.

Even if you aren’t anticipating monumental team changes (though it’s always wise to prepare), your knowledge base means you get to cut back on rehashing the same details you’ve gone over countless times during development meetings.

It allows you to address processes for low-level tasks (that are still really, really important) without sacrificing your organization’s time and bandwidth for discussing high-level goals.

How do I get started?

Putting together a living hub of your company’s most valuable information might sound like a lot.

You can avoid feeling totally overwhelmed by starting small and working your way up to more complex information.

Knock out your directories, org charts, and calendars first. This information is pretty straightforward. You might even already have it collected somewhere else, so all you have to do is rehome it to a more comprehensive document.

Look at this as a collaborative effort. Task different departments with contributing reports for the sake of compiling research and case studies, and ask your MVPs to weigh in on what they wish they knew on day one.

In fact, having everyone share SOPs, best practices, and other tribal knowledge they may be holding on to will help you create a robust knowledge base.

And you can collect this information piecemeal.

It doesn’t have to all be done in one sitting. Once you have everything together, organizing it in a way that is comprehensive and easy to follow is an important step in making it useable information.

Explore different options — you might be surprised by how easy some knowledge management solutions are to use.

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3 Reasons You Need a Company Knowledge Base

July 28, 2022

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