How to Keep a Knowledge Base Up to Date (11 Steps)
Businesses experience a lot of change. In fact, minor changes happen in businesses every week. You add a new step to a procedure or a new product to your offerings.
As things change, your knowledge base articles become outdated and inaccurate. But you don’t want that to happen. An outdated knowledge base leads to more confusion, more mistakes, and lower employee performance scores.
So how do you keep your knowledge base from becoming outdated?
As the Head Consultant for ScreenSteps — a knowledge ops solution — I’ve helped dozens of companies set up their knowledge bases and create a plan for keeping them updated.
Keeping a knowledge base up to date requires a structured and ongoing process. Follow these 11 steps to create a plan for maintaining your knowledge base.
1. Select a knowledge manager
First, you need a knowledge manager who will own the knowledge base. The knowledge manager doesn’t need to be the person updating every article. They just need to oversee the knowledge base and hold content creators accountable.
With ScreenSteps, we call this person the Knowledge Ops Manager. Some common positions that make good knowledge managers are CTO, COO, Directors of a Contact Center, etc.
Need help selecting a knowledge manager? Read this article describing the knowledge manager position as well as recommending skills to look for in your knowledge manager.
2. Create a team of contributors
If your knowledge manager isn’t going to update all of your articles, then you need a team of content contributors. These are the people who are going to go in and update your digital guides.
Some qualities and skills to look for in your contributors include:
- They enjoy documenting things.
- They take pleasure in making things clear and helpful.
- They are subject matter experts (SMEs) or MVPs in their area of business.
With ScreenSteps, we call these people our Knowledge Champions. That’s because they advocate for accuracy and ensure your knowledge base is reliable.
Provide training to knowledge base owners and contributors to ensure they know how to add, modify, and review content in the knowledge base. Also, you want to train them on best practices for creating digital guides and make sure they follow your knowledge base style guide.
3. Identify the key topics and areas of expertise
Determine the essential areas of knowledge that your knowledge base should cover, such as company policies, products and services, and procedures.
This will help you with step four because you can align SMEs with their area of expertise.
4. Assign ownership
Identify the owner or owners responsible for maintaining each topic or area of expertise in the knowledge base.
Once again, your assigned owner doesn’t have to update the articles themselves. They can assign additional contributors on their teams to make the changes to the guides.
However, it is their responsibility to set a schedule and certify the accuracy of those articles.
5. Determine the review frequency
Decide how often each area of knowledge needs to be updated. You’ll set this schedule based on the frequency of changes or updates.
As you set the schedule, consider: How frequently do you certify your articles? That can be different for every process or article.
6. Establish a review process
Develop a process for reviewing and updating each area in the knowledge base, including who is responsible for reviewing and approving updates.
The most important part is creating a habit.
For example, you know that every day you will review end-user comments on articles and make sure comments are addressed. You’ll also review article requests and create the necessary articles.
Then every week or month you will review how those articles are used. Review which search terms people used to find the articles they needed.
7. Define the policy for updates
Determine the sources of updates, such as internal procedures, customer feedback, or industry development. Establish a process for incorporating updates into the knowledge base.
For example, the content owner (Knowledge Champion) assigns it to a contributor. The contributor could then make the edits. Then the Knowledge Champion would review the edits and push the updates live.
8. Use a version control system
Use a version control system to track changes and updates to the knowledge base. This helps in case you make a change or need to reference past versions of the article.
Ensure that the most current version of the article is pushed live and available for your end-users.
9. Encourage feedback
Encourage users to provide feedback on the accuracy and usefulness of the knowledge base.
Ideally, your knowledge base will have built-in features that allow end-users to comment on articles and request articles.
This feedback is used to improve the content, making it clearer and easier to follow.
10. Measure the effectiveness
Measure the effectiveness of the knowledge base by tracking user engagement and feedback. Use this information to make adjustments as needed.
Most knowledge base software systems have usage analytics. You can use these insights to understand how your end-users are using your knowledge base.
With a good knowledge base analytics platform, you can start tying things together like, “So-and-so aren’t doing well in their job or making a lot of mistakes and they aren’t using the knowledge base articles.”
It helps you know if you need to provide more training or make updates to make the guides clearer.
Use these six KPIs to help you track how well you are transferring knowledge and the effectiveness of your knowledge base.
11. Determine your communication policy
How and when will you notify end-users about changes? It isn’t enough to make the changes in your knowledge base. Draw attention to the changes you’ve made to your knowledge base articles.
This will remind end-users to slow down and make sure they are following your digital guides on every procedure they handle.
Get a knowledge base with built-in tools to keep your knowledge base accurate
By following these steps, you can create a plan that ensures that your knowledge base remains up-to-date and useful to your organization and its stakeholders.
With ScreenSteps, it is easier and faster to keep your knowledge up to date. The ScreenSteps knowledge base includes features like:
- Content certifications that remind you when to review articles
- Comments for receiving end-user feedback
- Notifications and Announcements for communicating changes
- Integrated screen capture tool for quick article edits
See how ScreenSteps simplifies knowledge management with fast-paced tools, helping you make fewer mistakes and achieve greater employee performance.
Watch the demo videos for a preview of some of the ScreenSteps knowledge base features.