8 Best Practices For Managing Your Knowledge Base (+ 5 Features That Help)
Launching your knowledge base is a huge project. Managing your knowledge base is an even bigger project.
Before you start hyperventilating, take a deep breath. This article is going to point out a few processes and practices you can put into place to make managing your knowledge base easier.
Working for ScreenSteps — a knowledge base software company — I’ve learned that an outdated knowledge base is pretty worthless (sorry!). Your employees can trust it, so your knowledge base doesn’t get used. But your knowledge base is meant to be used!
Below, I’ve included eight best practices that will help you manage your knowledge base so that your employees will continue to rely on it. Then I’ve included five features you want to use to make managing your knowledge base even easier.
8 best practices for knowledge base management
Your knowledge base is not a one-and-done scenario. Once you’ve published your knowledge base, you still need to continue optimizing the content on your knowledge base. Here’s how you create a plan to maintain a good and healthy knowledge base.
1. Appoint someone to “own” the knowledge base
You need a knowledge base manager. A knowledge base manager is the point person. Your knowledge base manager oversees the knowledge base. They own the content in your knowledge base.
This person makes sure:
- The knowledge base articles are up to date and accurate
- Everyone has access to the information they need
- They author content and/or oversee your authoring team
At ScreenSteps, we call this person the “Knowledge Champion” because they are championing your company’s knowledge. They are promoting your content that enables your employees to do their jobs without making mistakes.
2. Create a team of content authors
Your knowledge base manager doesn’t have to write all of the articles and resources in your knowledge base. Create a team of content authors for your company.
Ideally, your content creators will be your subject matter experts (SMEs). These are your MPS or top-performing employees.
With a team of authors, the knowledge base manager can assign the SMEs specific articles to write and keep updated. The knowledge base manager can still maintain the content plan but share the task of writing knowledge base articles.
3. Create a style guide
Have your knowledge manager create a knowledge base style guide for your company.
With different content authors, this helps keep article formatting consistent, which makes it easier for the end-user to read and follow the articles.
Plus, this means keeping content consistent as you update articles and create new articles in the future.
4. Update your knowledge base with each new product
Your company will evolve and change over time. Most companies introduce new products and services regularly.
With every new product and service, comes new policies and procedures. These policies and procedures need to be documented in your knowledge base. That way, your employees can access them quickly and easily.
You’ll want to create a plan to have new articles documented and introduced in your knowledge base before or immediately after a product/service is introduced. After all, if the product is announced, your employees and customer will have questions that they’ll want answers to asap.
5. Scheduling editing time daily
Set aside time to write new articles and edit existing ones regularly. Appoint time daily in your schedule for editing and updating your knowledge base articles.
“But, I don’t have time to work in my knowledge base daily.” Ok, I hear you. But, what you really don’t have time to NOT spend time writing and editing in your knowledge base daily.
If your articles aren’t accurate and your employees are using them to perform procedures, then they are unnecessary mistakes. And it’s not their fault! They don’t have the correct information at their fingertips.
Remember: Your knowledge base is the single source of truth for your company. It houses all your reference materials. It needs to be reliable. You don’t want to risk your employees not trusting your knowledge base.
Even setting aside 30 minutes a day could make a huge difference in the health of your knowledge base.
6. Allow end-users to provide feedback
Your end-users are in your knowledge base daily. They are on the frontlines. They will be the first to notice when a procedure is missing a step or something is out of date.
Provide a way for your end-users to provide your content authors feedback. That could be through a designated email for your knowledge base, a chat channel, or another messaging system.
The best way is to use knowledge base software that has a function that allows employees to comment on specific articles.
7. Schedule regular reviews for knowledge base articles
Set up a calendar for reviewing articles. You can assign different people to review different articles, like your SMEs.
Depending on the article, you would review it annually, monthly, or weekly. For example, a long-lasting policy about scheduling employee PTO would only need to be reviewed annually. But something that has the monthly billing date on it would need to be reviewed at least monthly.
Some knowledge base software has a feature that automates reminders to certify your knowledge base content.
8. Measure usage and effectiveness
Spend time regularly reviewing analytics. You have a knowledge base so that it would be used in your day-to-day work. If employees aren’t using it, then your knowledge base isn’t serving its full purpose.
Depending on your knowledge base software, your knowledge base analytics will help you know:
- Who is using your knowledge base
- What articles are they viewing
- How are end-users searching for and finding your articles
These insights will help you make changes to and update your knowledge base to improve the end-user experience.
5 knowledge base features that will help you
When you choose your knowledge base software, you’ll want to make sure it has features to help you manage your knowledge base. Here are five features you’ll want your knowledge base to have for easier management.
1. Content certification
Some knowledge base software has a feature that allows you to assign dates for people to review and certify articles.
When it is time for an article to be reviewed, your knowledge base notifies the content author assigned to the article. This helps you avoid missing important updates and letting your articles go a long time without getting updated.
2. User analytics
Not all knowledge base software analytics are created equal. You want to track how your end-users are using your knowledge base. This helps you make updates and changes to the existing content. Plus, it helps you identify gaps in help articles that you are missing.
Some common knowledge base analytics and reports include:
- How many times an article has been viewed
- Individual user reports
- Keyword search reports
Also, you can often gain more insights by integrating Google Analytics with your knowledge base website.
3. Agile content creation tools
Content creation can take a LONG time — especially if you don’t have high-functioning and simple content creation tools.
You’ll want a knowledge base that has an easy author program. This includes simple tools that make formatting the article easier for the end-user to read and follow.
For step-by-step instructions, you’ll want screenshots so you can show as well as tell end-users what to do. This is often the most time-consuming part of writing knowledge base articles. Use a knowledge base software that makes it easy to swap out screenshots as products get updated or applications update their website/software.
4. Notifications and announcements
So, you are making all of these updates to your knowledge base articles. What good will that do if nobody knows these changes exist?
If your employees are in the habit of following your knowledge base articles every time they perform a procedure, they will naturally see the updates as they do procedures.
For an added measure of security, some knowledge base software services all you to send announcements and notifications to your knowledge base users. Some services allow you to require your employees to verify that they’ve seen the update. This holds all users accountable for the information.
5. End-user feedback tools
As mentioned above, some knowledge base software platforms allow users to provide feedback directly on the articles.
This allows for comments and communication between content authors and end-users.
End-users are the first to see a mistake in your knowledge base because they are using your guides in their work daily. They become a greater part of your knowledge management strategy when they are able to contribute more directly to the work.
Simplify knowledge base management with the right knowledge base software
Managing a knowledge base for a company is a big challenge and responsibility. There are many moving pieces. With the right knowledge base software, it simplifies knowledge base management and takes the pressure off of one person.
With a ScreenSteps knowledge base, our features and tools make keeping your knowledge base up to date easy. Our content creation tools are simple yet powerful — especially our integrated screen capture tool that has saved content authors hours.
There are hundreds of different knowledge base software services available. Here is a short list of some of the best knowledge base services in the business. This way you can get a quick overview and see which will be the best fit for your company.