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Why Your Organization Needs an Internal Knowledge Base

Simplifying the Research Process

Knowledge bases are not new technology. They’ve existed for years. The internet itself represents one of the earliest digital knowledge bases, providing ready access to a myriad of information.

But an internal knowledge base—offered within an organization’s firewalled network—provides special utility. It’s an excellent way to focus only on information relevant to a company and its operational tasks. Today’s companies only now learning how an internal knowledge base can streamline reference processes for employees.

What are Internal Knowledge Bases?

An internal knowledge base is a centralized database of any information employees could need. It may include company objectives, policies, values and troubleshooting procedures. When managed effectively, an internal knowledge base can serve as the primary resource for most, if not all employees.

Internal knowledge bases are flexible, varying in size and complexity to suit an organization’s unique needs. A good internal knowledge base can help resolve legal questions and human resources inquiries. It can also provide training, on-boarding materials and other relevant information. The best options make these resources searchable for maximum accessibility.

When this database is robust, streamlined, and properly maintained, it provides vital reference for all employees.

The Benefits

Research suggests the average office employee spends 20% of their time researching internal information about 9 hours every week. These are troubling statistics, especially given technology’s proven ability to streamline most professional practices.

Organizations without a centralized information repository force employees to spend hours researching information. Some teams even recreate existing resources because they simply can’t find them. Large corporations lose almost 10 billion dollars a year this way. Customers are impacted, too. And 60% of customers will start considering other options after waiting on hold for just 5 minutes.

Customer retention is one of the most important factors in an organization’s profitability. According to Harvard Business Review, acquiring a new customer is five times more expensive than retaining an existing customer.

An accessible resource database reduces research time by up to 35% and creates shorter customer wait times. Employees can respond to customer inquiries much faster, slashing wasted labor hours and creating more satisfied customers.

Building your Knowledge Base

When creating an internal knowledge base, focus on who the content is for and what purpose it should serve. “It’s not enough to throw a bunch of documents into your company knowledge base. Go through your content with a fine-tooth comb. The information you provide your employees needs to be easy to read and support their specific needs.” In other words, less is more, especially if it’s stated clearly.

Creating an internal knowledge base is only the first step. Once established, these systems require a good deal of upkeep to remain effective. Relevance demands frequent updates and regular additions of new content. Successful companies are never stagnant for long—as your business evolves, so must your knowledge base.

Companies should take an interest in what knowledge base information provides the highest value to employees find most valuable. Polls and surveys can provide insight regarding which types of information to prioritize.

Choosing the Right Software

There is a variety of software available to help you create an effective internal knowledge base system. Depending on the size of your company, you can even build upon your organization’s preexisting intranet software. For large companies with multiple products, services and clients, a standalone knowledge base tool may be the better solution.

Options for free knowledge base software do exist. However—no surprise—they come with certain limitations, such as a cap on the number of users. In either case, good pre-purchase research is critical.

Optimal security is another concern. Wiki databases can be useful for some purposes. But they allow anyone to alter content. This leaves an internal knowledge base vulnerable to unauthorized editing—a poor solution for sensitive internal information.

And, since efficiency remains the overriding goal of any internal knowledge base, it’s best to consider a system’s ease-of-use. A knowledge base should be easy for all employees to navigate—even those who aren’t particularly tech-savvy.

Getting Started

A reliable, highly-searchable internal knowledge base can significantly improve operational efficiency. Gather a team, set aside some time, and explore all the options. Evaluate your company’s content needs and information storage requirements. Build your internal knowledge base to lower costs, and increase productivity across the board.

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