Organizing Your Knowledge Base

Here are some tips and techniques that can help you understand and organize the knowledge that drives your business.

1.      Define knowledge management. Don't confuse knowledge management with artificial intelligence. The knowledge base does not make the decision; it gives information to the decision maker.

2.      Work with the people who use the information.Form project teams that include writers, managers, and most importantly the people who use the information. Our consultants use Joint Information Design (JID) workshops to brainstorm for ideas, develop priorities and project plans. In two day sessions, we always find key information needs that can be quickly addressed. We also form the team to bring the ideas to fruition.

3.      Understand the knowledge that drives your business. This is key to success. Ask the people on the front lines to list their critical success factors. Then identify the information they need to achieve success. Work from there to set priorities. Some of the most important information is not found in policy manuals, but in daily bulletins and frequently changing schedules. Sometimes, you'll find that information is available, but out of reach. Direct links from business applications to online information can help them handle calls without digging for information.

4.      Think about interactions, not transactions. Customer service is not just about transaction details. Its about problem solving, recalling prior conversations, considering alternatives, and reaching agreements. Think about events that require interaction and the exchange of information. Organize the information to support the handling of these events. Then make this information available from the business records.

5.      Support the knowledge web. Knowledge is created every day. Its important to have an ongoing process for developing it and refining it as its being used. In many cases, information collected in one department is useful to another, yet the current way of doing business does not share it. Sometimes, these are the best opportunities to improve your business. Look for ways to improve information sharing across the business, not just within a single department.

6.      Go from idea to results quickly. People learn from experience. Its important to move quickly from ideas to results, then to move on to the next idea so people see the knowledge loop in action.

7.      Keep it simple. Don't make people wade through a lot of information to get what they need. Instead, organize information in bite sized chunks. If you need more detail, provide a link they can follow if they need more detail.