If your employees have to sift through multiple documents to look for a simple answer, they’ll instead solve the query themselves. But this ad-hoc approach is not the right way to go and could lead to multiple problems.
Moreover, if company information is not organized, it kills productivity leading to inefficiency in the organization. An internal knowledge base saves your organization from ending up in inefficient cycles. No matter your company’s size, everyone benefits from an organized and easy-to-access internal knowledge base.
But how do you create one? And what’s the best software for an internal knowledge base? We’re answering all these questions and
What is an internal knowledge base?
An internal knowledge (often abbreviated as internal KB) is a compilation of all, and any resources organization members need to answer queries or resolve issues. It is a centralized hub that can be accessed by all or any team members. You can call internal knowledge bases the encyclopedias of an organization.
Internal knowledge bases are put in place to avoid work friction and boost employee productivity. In customer service, an internal KB helps the customer reps resolve queries independently—without having to reach out to their colleagues. This improves response rates, and the productivity of other employees is also not hampered.
Today we have multiple internal KB software that allows you to create, store and update your knowledge bases. You can also manage access within your knowledge base with such software.
Internal knowledge base vs. external knowledge base
Internal and external KBs are like oranges and tangerines—they’re similar yet different. So, before we dive deep into the world of internal KB, we must understand the difference between an external and an internal knowledge base. Here are the key differences between the two:
The user base is the biggest difference between an internal and an external KB.
Internal knowledge bases are for people in your organization. These can be call center employees, people in HR, marketing, IT, sales, training, accounting, and other departments. There could be multiple such teams, but the common thing across all these is that they’re all a part of your organization and are working towards a common goal.
On the other hand, an external knowledge base is usually used to assist customer support. One can think of it as a self-service tool for customers. An external KB helps you publicly share information about your organization and products. So, an external KB is for people outside of business operations—on the customer-facing side.
Type of information included
Another distinction between internal and external KB can be drawn based on the type of information included in these resources.
In an internal KB, you’ll have information about things like:
- Company policies
- Company background
- Process, protocols, and procedures for different activities
- Employee benefits
- Company voice and tone
- Internal troubleshooting guides
- Company announcements
In an external KB, you’ll have information about things like:
- Contact information
- Troubleshooting guides
- Refund and payment policies
- Company/product story
- Ordering help
- Store locator
- Shipping and returns information
What better way to understand the difference than with an example? You can use these examples to create a knowledge base of your own. Let’s see an example for an internal knowledge base first.
Above is an example of what the internal knowledge base looks like for the team at Slite. As you can see, there are different sections for different people. You can find a About Slite section, a section for HR people, marketing people and other information like the hiring process.
Now, here is an example of an external knowledge base.
Above is an external knowledge base you can find on Lyft’s website. When observed closely, you’ll find that most information is for their customers. Be it the riders or the passengers. Information like payments, safety guidelines, and account creation can be seen.
Benefits of using an internal knowledge base
Here are the significant benefits an organization could get by creating an internal knowledge base.
Improved productivity and workflows
Nintex conducted a study and found that 67% of employees feel that their company’s broken processes hamper their journey to maximizing their potential at work. An internal knowledge helps in creating smooth workflows for employees, which in turn helps in boosting their productivity.
Ankit Vora, who has previously worked in an IT firm, says the following about the benefits of having an internal knowledge base.
“One of my company’s clients had a very complicated product. As a developer, it was not possible to memorize each feature. There were features I had worked on, but there were also features I had not worked on. By setting up an internal knowledge base we were able to eliminate the extra hours that are spent on reaching out with the right people and collaboration.”
With internal KBs, your employees know precisely what information is and where. They don’t have to spend time finding that information first and then implementing what they learn from it.
Better onboarding and retention of employees
Onboarding is not a cakewalk; people in HR will know. Sending the same emails while ensuring nothing is being missed is also tiresome and redundant. With an internal knowledge base, you can simply share access to the onboarding part of the knowledge base instead of having to send all those emails.
Employees feel confident when all resources are efficiently provided to them during onboarding. And then employees can support themselves and give their best at work. Oftentimes, if adequate support at the beginning is not offered, the employees may leave the company. But with an internal KB, retaining employees would be easier.
Less requirement for training
We won’t say that internal knowledge bases could completely replace training, but they could indeed be of good help. Every time you hire an employee, you’ll have to provide them with some documents they need to read as a part of training supplements or pre-training work. Whatever the case, an internal knowledge base could serve the purpose well.
If your training process is rather simple you could completely replace it by creating an internal knowledge base with all training information. Include pictures, loom videos, and documents in your training KB, and you’re good to go!
Consistent information sharing
An employee working by looking at an internal KB is always better than an employee following their ad hoc approach. When all employees refer to the same information, it ensures consistency in information sharing. Consistent information then leads to consistent customer experiences by all your customer representatives.
Another benefit is that all information in your internal KB is usually approved by the best of the people in your organization. As a result, there is less scope for wrong information to be supplied to employees for use.
Less HR workload
The human resources could get much of their tasks done with an internal KB. Sensitive information like corporate regulations, and payroll can all be safely stored through your organization’s internal knowledge base, eliminating the need to contact members of your HR team. That means less work for your HR department and less time lost by staff members trying to reach out to the employees. The time saved could be put to better use by your HR department.
Reduced customer support costs
Fortune 500 companies lose $30 billion annually due to poor knowledge management. An internal KB helps you manage your company knowledge better and, in turn, reduces support costs. Your employees can reclaim their workday when they have access to all the resources they need in one location, enabling them to perform at their highest level.
Long-term, this also lowers employee turnover, which lowers the expense of employing new support staff. A company with internal KBs can also reduce the scope for costly mistakes due to a lack of adequate information.
Higher customer satisfaction
In the end, all the benefits of an internal knowledge base will lead to the biggest benefit—improved customer satisfaction. When employing an internal knowledge base, customer care employees are better able to respond to customer inquiries swiftly, solve issues successfully, and manage conversations without getting frustrated.
The information in an internal KB enables your agents to give clients exactly what they want – a speedy answer to their problem — whether they are serving a customer in real time via phone or responding to a support ticket.
How to create an internal knowledge base
Understand your goals with creating the knowledge base
Knowing why you need an internal knowledge base and what you wish to achieve with it is the first step to creating an internal KB. Knowledge base building without any goals would not be beneficial. Without knowing your goals with an internal KB you’ll not be able to create the right internal knowledge base for your organization.
Setting goals for internal KB is also important to measure the usefulness of it. When you’ve set goals you’re able to make a comparison and find out what your internal KB is lacking and then make updates to your knowledge base.
Decide what information to include
Once you’re done setting up the objectives, the next step is to decide everything that will be included in your internal KB. This stage is your outline stage. A good way to start is by deciding all the sections in your knowledge base. Start with high-level topics like HR, marketing, sales etc.
Next, talk to employees in these departments and find out what information they need to perform their best at work. Based on your research come up with topics to be included under each high-level topic. These high-level topics will now become your sub-level topics. If need be, create further sub-topics under your sub-level topics.
It’s a good idea to include department heads or employees into this step because as leaders you may forget what it is actually like to be an employee.
Bonus Tip: There could be hundreds of things you can include an internal KB, but you don’t want to stuff it up with too much information. It could get overwhelming for your employees. Instead, prioritize important information for each topic. For example, company policy is an important topic as compared to information about team lunches.
Compile and create content
Once you’ve outlined your internal knowledge, you’ll start gathering all the information to be included. There are two broad ways to go about it:
- Dig through the existing resources of your company and compile the information.
- Hire content writers that write all internal KB information in an understandable manner.
Depending on the time and budget, you can decide to go on any one or both routes. Whatever you choose, make sure the final articles are easy to read and convey the message accurately. Step-by-step guides are usually the perfect type of content to be included in an internal KB.
You could also get a little more creative and incorporate videos into your knowledge base content. A mix of both video and written content would ensure effective use of your internal knowledge base.
Decide on access rights
If you have a huge team or confidential information in certain sections—you need not share the entire internal KB with each employee. Instead you can set access rights for each department. For example, all information related to sales would be shared only with people in sales. Similarly, information like performance review criteria would only be accessible to the HR managers.
Ask for feedback
You may think you’ve created the best internal knowledge base in the world, but your employees may not feel the same way. So, how do you avoid this? By asking for feedback.
After adding some final touches to your internal KB, the next step is to ask for feedback. At the end of your process of designing the internal knowledge base, you must remember to take feedback. Run your internal KB through people (at multiple positions) and ask for their honest feedback.
You can ask your employees specific questions when asking for feedback. Questions like:
- Which areas could be better in terms of quality of information?
- Which topic/article do you think should be eliminated?
- On a scale of 1-10, how easy do you think finding information in this internal KB is?
Based on the feedback you receive, make edits.
Keep updating your knowledge base
Your internal KB is not set in stone. You must understand that a resource like an internal knowledge base is never “complete”. With the changing business dynamics, you’ll constantly need to keep updating the internal knowledge base.
Moreover, you and your employees may also learn new information that needs to be added into the knowledge base. A good way to ensure your internal KB is constantly being updated is by setting up systems for updates. It could be something as simple as dedicating a slack channel solely to suggesting updates into your internal knowledge base.
Best internal knowledge base software
Internal knowledge base software makes it easy for you to create knowledge and for your employees to use it. We’ve found the four best internal knowledge base software; here are these:
Notion is the simplest yet most effective internal knowledge base software. Notion has multiple features that allow you to create a powerful, detailed knowledge base. Organizing and displaying information is very easy. You can create links for sharing, which can be shared with specific people. You can create databases, sub-pages, tables, graphs etc. You can embed videos, links, and documents; you can do anything with Notion.
- Easy to use and set up.
- Free templates available in abundance
- Drag and drop editor for easier designing
- Extremely flexible–can be used to create complex knowledge bases too.
- No drafts mode—all changes are visible in real-time.
- Search is not very useful.
Notion’s team pricing starts at $8 per user per month.
Confluence is one of the products from Atlassian. Confluence is designed specifically for internal use and project management. They provide a huge library of page templates so you can get going right away to make your life easier. Additionally, you may set permissions for various articles and create team workspaces to keep things organized. Confluence readily integrates with other Atlassian products like Jira and Trello.
- Integrations with popular Atlassian products
- Draft and edit modes—the final page can be published later.
- Commenting and collaboration features (good for feedback)
- Complex software that may take time to learn
Confluence has an interesting pricing system. This means that you get discounts as you add more users. Pricing starts at $5.50 per user per month and can go all the way down to $2 per user per month.
Slite is built explicitly for remote teams to discuss and document important information. This software makes up for an excellent internal KB software as it is structured, intuitive, and frees up to 50 docs. Slite has multiple free templates like employee onboarding, product planning and stand-up meetings, which can get you started with designing your internal KB.
- Easy to learn and use
- Free up to 50 docs
- Search comes with multiple filters that make it powerful
- Fewer integration options
Slite’s pricing starts at $8 per user per month
Guru is an internal knowledge base that allows you to store company knowledge effectively. With Guru, your team can access all information they need at work within a few minutes. Guru is built in a way that searching for information is super easy.
Additionally, they provide a browser plugin that makes it even simpler to access saved information and a Slack integration that alerts team members in real-time when articles they own or follow are changed or when they are mentioned in a knowledge base article.
- Easy to use and affordable
- Integration with Slack available
- Collections and boards to keep information organized
- Fewer integration options
Guru is free for up to 3 users and starts at $5 per user per month.