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Knowledge (base) is power: how to archive your company's wisdom

Published: May 30, 2013

Author: Molly Shotwell

Today’s post is by Sam Naishtat, Training and Curriculum Coordinator.
Schoolhouse Rocky can tell you about knowledge.
Welcome back, Knowledge Base aspirant! For the sake of arrogance, we’ll presume you’ve read the first two posts of this series, on why to build a KB and on what it should include, where it should go, who should contribute, and when to update it.
The only thing left, then, is…

How do you build a KB?

The beauty of saving this question for the end is that the answers to the other questions have provided you with most of the information you need to know about “how” to go about setting up and handling your KB.  But, because I’ve grown so fond of you over the course of this blog, I’m willing to go that extra mile for you and offer a few more suggestions.
First of all, content. If you already have some appropriate documents (SOPs, whitepapers, best practices), that’s simply wonderful. Please use them to get started. But if you don’t, or you’ve been meaning to organize your thoughts and get some things in print, now would be the time.
Poll the people who normally occupy the “guru” positions in your office. Form a Tribal Council to hash out what’s important and what isn’t. Make sure any information you keep for the company to see is as thorough and reflective of your values as possible. When people see how seriously you’re taking the collective knowledge of your organization, they’ll all want to help, and you can develop something truly powerful.
Let’s also talk presentation. Your KB should not only be easy to find, but easy to look at. Saving it as just another folder doesn’t lend much of an air of importance. And if files are just chucked in there willy-nilly, it will be difficult to get a sense of what’s going on, so the organization of your materials is critical as well.  Check out these screenshots for an example of what I mean.
structure a knowledge base
As I mentioned, our KB resides in its very own tab within our intranet, which we all use on a daily basis.  But the tab also has its own clear drop-down menu for instant access to any portion. This helps the information stand out to a user.
subsets in a knowledge base
Once people click on something from the drop-down menu, they’re taken to a cleanly organized list of items within that list selection. Everything is clearly labeled, and there are no extraneous items.
whitepapers in a knowledge base
I’ve clicked into “Whitepapers” from the previous list of items. Note that even our individual files are clearly and consistently labeled, and you can be sure that anything in this folder is a whitepaper. This kind of crystal clarity makes it much easier to consume the material in your KB.
This is how we at PPC Associates view the storing and sharing of our own ideas. But as always, we welcome the ideas of others as well. So if you have your own ways of handling your company’s knowledge base, leave a comment, and we’ll expand our KBs together!
– Sam Naishtat, Training & Curriculum Coordinator

25 E Washington Street
Suite 420

Chicago, IL 60602(650) 539-4124


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