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Key Best Practices for Creating, Maintaining, and Using a Knowledge Management System

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By Josh Brown


Now that we have a clear understanding of why your remote organization needs a knowledge management system, let’s go over how to create one in a way that allows you to meet your goals.

Identify Knowledge and Content to Be Created

Your first order of business is to determine what information will actually be included within your KMS.

If your KMS is meant for internal use, you’ll be aiming to document as much organizational knowledge as you possibly can. The idea here is to ensure that anything your team knows, does, or has created that may help them or another team member be more effective in their position is readily available for all to see at any given time.

In both cases, you’ll want to include both explicit and tacit knowledge throughout the system. 

Explicit knowledge refers to concrete information and data, such as documented policies or step-by-step instructions. Here, it’s simply a matter of uploading these pre-created files or documents into your KMS.

Tacit knowledge refers to your employees’ knowledge, skills, and abilities that are more intuitive and difficult to translate into specific instructions or documentation. For this type of knowledge, you may have to create videos or other multimedia content providing a demonstration and in-depth explanation of the knowledge in question.

Eventually, your goal will be to make your KMS as interconnected as possible. This all starts by leaving no stone unturned, and determining exactly what needs to be included within your KMS to make it a valuable resource for your team and/or your customers.

Develop a Hierarchy for your Knowledge—and Make it Accessible

Once you know what knowledge, info, and documentation you’ll be including in your KMS, your next step will be to figure out how to organize it and make it easy to access.

First, you’ll be developing a hierarchy that brings your user (i.e., your team) from a broad starting point to a more specific end.

Take WealthBar’s knowledge base, for example.

Wealthbar

Here, the company’s KMS provides a number of broad topics to choose from. Once the user chooses a path, they’ll be brought to a page with a number of subtopics listed on it:

 

From there, the user can click on any listed question to get more in-depth and specific information about the topic at hand:

 

You might also include links to related content to help further your user’s understanding of a given topic, as Shipt does here:

 

 

In addition to making sure your knowledge management solution is browsable, you also want to make it searchable.

There are two keys to making this happen:

First, each piece of content you create should include words and phrases your users commonly use when discussing the topic at hand. That way, when they use a given search term, they’re likely to be presented with the most relevant piece of content within your knowledge management system.

(While this will likely happen naturally as you create the content in the first place, you still want to be sure to naturally inject keywords into your content to better enable your search function.)

Secondly, be sure to tag your articles and content with relevant terms, as well. This will also allow your search tool to more accurately point your users toward the specific information they’re looking for—and can also allow them to browse similar articles with ease.

Something else to consider is ensuring your KMS solution offers autocomplete capabilities within the search function. This will allow your users to a) know for sure that your KMS answers the questions they have, and b) actually access the necessary information.

Similarly, your KMS should also integrate with your other tools and technology—specifically, your chatbot. That way, they can use the chatbot in the same way they use your search feature, and can be presented with the right information in as few steps as possible.

Create Content Collaboratively

Remember how we said your goal for your KMS is to leave no stone unturned, no information left unsaid, and no knowledge left unexplained?

That is why collaboration is necessary when utilizing your knowledge management solution.

This collaboration can occur in a number of different ways.

Firstly—and perhaps most obviously—your individual teams can collaborate when creating content specific to their area. For example, your development team can create technical guides to assist both your support staff and your customers complete certain tasks. Or, your support staff can work together to develop concrete best practices when dealing with specific circumstances.

But, you also want to involve other teams in the creation of certain content to ensure accuracy, value, and user-friendliness. For example, you may want to have your marketing team work with your development team to inject more customer-facing language into your technical documents. You might also have various teams actually work through your technical documents as a test run before making them available to your audience.

(Or, your various teams might come together to share different information and perspectives as you go about creating certain content. Again, this will help you cover all the angles and leave no stone unturned.)

Of course, working together while operating remotely is a bit more challenging than when everyone’s under one roof. That’s why your KMS should provide features to facilitate collaboration, such as shared editing, a comment system, and more.

 

 

In allowing all stakeholders to have a say in the content held within your KMS, you’ll all but guarantee your system will be as comprehensive as possible.

Continually Improve Your Knowledge Management System

Your team’s knowledge and abilities are evolving on a constant basis.

Because of this, your KMS should never be considered to be “complete.” As your team’s knowledge grows, so, too, should your knowledge management system.

Your team should always be looking for new content to add to your KMS. This may mean adding to (or otherwise improving) your current content, creating additional content to supplement your existing content, or creating entirely new content altogether. 

Moreover, you also want to continually improve your KMS from a functional standpoint. Here, you’ll be looking to improve the way in which you deliver information to your users, as well as their ability to navigate your knowledge management solution on their own. You’ll want to make use of questionnaires or surveys to obtain feedback as well as solicit ongoing suggestions so as to determine whether your KMS is meeting the needs of your team.

In both cases, it’s essential that you take the same strategic approach we’ve talked about throughout this article. Always consult your usage data, user feedback, and any other information you have on-hand. In turn, you’ll be certain that the changes you make to your knowledge management system will have a positive impact on your audience’s experience with your brand.

Wrapping Up

Your organization’s ability to function depends largely on the amount of knowledge your team holds—as well as their ability to communicate this knowledge freely with one another.

A comprehensive and well-maintained knowledge management system, then, is crucial to the success of your remote business. 

With the right knowledge and information at their fingertips at all times, your remote employees will always know the exact steps to take at all times. In turn, your team will always be able to keep your organization moving in the right direction.

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