So, you’re ready to begin building a knowledge base. Great! It will be a tremendous asset to everyone with access to it. That is, it will be if you build it right. There are some well established do’s and don’ts when it comes to building a knowledge base. Here’s how to do it right.
Establish a Small Number of Broad Categories
First off, the knowledge base does not need to look too daunting. If users log in and see dozens of categories, they will most often give up and try to find the answer another way, which probably means another call to your IT help desk, which defeats the whole purpose of having a knowledge base to begin with. Set up a handful of broad categories, and group everything logically under those umbrella subjects.
Establish Strong Search Capabilities
Using tags within your articles and entries in the knowledge base allows you to employ search capabilities. This makes it easy for users to find what they are looking for without having to navigate all the way through a maze of layers of categories.
Avoid Any Jargon
Jargon is bad, bad, bad when it comes to a knowledge base. Make it simple for even non-techie users to understand and benefit from. It’s okay to include terms for techies, so long as they are thoroughly defined and explained so that non-techies can easily follow along.
Use Consistent Naming Throughout the Knowledge Base
It is useful to establish a style guide that dictates how certain things will be referred to throughout the knowledge base. Don’t switch and swap the terms you use for a particular thing or concept, because it becomes extremely confusing to readers. Decide what you’re going to call common things with multiple names and stick to your decision.
Establish Roles for Developing and Managing the Knowledge Base
Who will write the articles? Who will edit or fact check the articles? Who will post the articles? When? Create roles for the positions you need to create and manage the knowledge base, and then assign workers to each of those roles. Otherwise, the knowledge base just becomes a really great idea that never actually got done.
Encourage Lots of Linking Within the Knowledge Base
Links help to guide the readers to other articles and entries that help them understand further. It works much like Wikipedia. Encourage article writers to include links to other relevant articles and information wherever possible.
Give Users a Way to Flag Issues They Find
You want your readers to become a second set of eyes working toward building a better knowledge base. Supply your users with a way to flag problems within the database, and assign someone on your help desk to go back and check issues that get flagged. This helps create a clean, accurate, well written knowledge base.
Modern help desk software should include tools to build and manage a knowledge base.
About Nathan Riley
Nathan Riley is a Sales Director, ITSM at SolarWinds. He has nine years experience in the industry, and has had a front row seat for the evolution of service management as a platform for the entire organization. He helps organizations ranging from SMB to Fortune 500 bring customized service to employees. Nathan proudly served the United States Armed Forces in the United States Marine Corps.
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