Tips for Setting Up a Knowledge Repository for Your Team
A knowledge repository, also known as a “knowledge base” or a “how do I library”, is a great resource to help teams do their day-to-day activities more efficiently and effectively. A knowledge repository improves the time it takes for a new person to get up to speed, and it helps team members address customer issues faster since the information on how to address the issues is readily available. This article contains tips and techniques for setting up an effective knowledge repository.
1. Find out who is going to be using your knowledge repository
To determine where your knowledge repository is going to be located, you will need to know the following:
- Who will be your target audience? Is it going to be just your team members, or is it going to be shared by your team members and other teams?
- Where is your audience located? Are they located in one central location, or are they dispersed?
- Does your audience need to be able to access the repository “anytime, anyplace, anywhere” because members of your audience telecommute or travel to locations in different time zones?
2. Based on the answer to your first question, pick a location that will be accessible to your entire intended audience
If your audience is dispersed, travel frequently, and/or spread out between multiple teams, hosting the repository on an external portal will be your best solution.
If you have an audience that’s in one central location and works in one particular environment, hosting on an extranet portal is a good solution, but a “local” location would better suit your needs. For example, a group in your organization may work exclusively in one physical location in an isolated network with no Internet access, so it would make more sense to host the repository in a file share accessible through that location.
3. Assign a librarian/content manager (or 2) for your content management
This is a critical step. Without a content manager/librarian, your knowledge repository becomes a “wild, wild West” with information that’s outdated, inaccurate, incomplete, and disorganized. The knowledge repository becomes a hindrance instead of a help.
A content manager/librarian ensures that the information is current, accurate, complete and organized. The person (or people) in this role:
- Reviews the material for grammar and spelling
- Tests the material for completeness and accuracy (applies mostly to instructional documentation)
- Reviews the material for accuracy and relevancy
- Organizes the material
- Archives or removes outdated materials
4. Organize the content so it’s easy to access
Picture how you store your clothing at home. Do you put all your clothing in one drawer or box, or do you have the clothing organized in different drawers and shelves? You know that if you put all of your clothing in one drawer or box, it’ll be harder for you to get dressed in the morning because you have to filter through all the clothes to pick what you need. If you have your clothing organized, in different compartments, it’s easier to get dressed because your garments are where they’re supposed to be.
This concept is the same for your knowledge repository. If you don’t have the information compartmentalized, it will be difficult for your audience to find what they need. You can organize it by using folders or a category field.
- If you or your company uses a portal like SharePoint or other tools for document management ,create columns in the document library to help with organization and descriptions. Some helpful fields include: category, executive summary, author,applies to.
- If you’re going to use a file share, use a folder structure that will make sense, and use clear file names that will make sense to the layperson (ex: How-To-Tie-Your-Shoe.pdf vs. HDI-01928-HTTYS-9281183.pdf).
- Choose a librarian/content manager that is not only very strong with documentation and content management, but is also familiar with the technology of choice for hosting the repositories.
- Perform informal surveys within your audience to gauge how your knowledge repository is working.This will help you make improvements with the content and organization.