Guide for building knowledge base
Very often knowledgebase is considered as something like must have feature for an information system, but this is misleading in case you want your knowledgebase serve like a real help for employees, customers and/or developers.
This article is a short guide how to gather information you need and keep in mind to create and maintenance while creating, developing and maintenancing a knowledge base for a company you work at or for a client you are creating a knowledge base for.
What a good knowledge base must contain
Knowledge base is not always a QA database. It can and should contain data not only for current employess, but it also have to be a source of essential data for developers who are working on making your company's informations system more useful. For sure, basic information about how your company works are clear, but very often essential data are missing.
While creating a good and useful knowledge base, one should keep in mind, who will use it and for whom it will be useful. Very often a creator thinks that everybody will understand and this is the main mistake which often appears. Knowledge base is a source not only of technical data of an information sytem, but also an information, which is bad documentated because of its kind.
Should a knowledge base contain technical data or soft data?
There's not correct anser on this question, because there's no any "correct" way of making knowledge base. A first step is alway an analysis, who will use your knowledge base, what is the goal and what problem is has to solve. This is why different knowledge databases have different forms and you cannot find any universal template for creating it. Different spheres of application, different goals it has to solve, different ways of creating it and different ways of gathering information.
Knowledge bases for internal and external use have different goals
Knowledge base for "external usage"
Very often QnA section of a "help" section of a website is understood as a knowledge base. Partly it can be true, but a few notes on this issue has be mentioned. First of all knowledge base serve to a wider audience, that just customers or internal users. It could be a part of your company's information system's analysis in case you are planning its development.
Not every company is able to develop its information system's functionality using internal resources. This is a common situation when company cannot develop its IT system by itself and oursource it to a external company. In this case it needs a detailed documentation of its IT system. Knowledge base can be supportive source of many information and its development doesn't costs so much.
Knowledge bases for internal usage
Internal knowledgbases are constructed to help internal company's goals and external knowlege bases are being built in order to help external users (often customers). Information created inside a company should be categorized, stored and presented the way it can bring additional value to a company and it's employees.
While developing a knowledge base for company's internal usage one should keep in mind, that information will be searched and studied by new employees as well. Yes, newcomers will try their best to get involved into a company's activity and they will try to look for all informations they potentially will need to become a truly part of a team they started to work in.
Choosing a tool to create a knowledge base
The way you create your knowledge base and the tool you choose should be done according to a IT system your company runs or a website technology used. In the end the main goal is to create a tool/system which help end users to get information they need to simplify or make their work better and more efficient.
Knowledge base can be build without any special system installed in your intranet. For your customers your knowledge base can be easily built using WordPress system or any CMS including paid or free. In case of building knowledge base for your customers, just keep in mind they are not going to choose or evaluate what system or technology you you use, but the speed and comfort of getting answers to questions or resolving their issues.
Even a simple shared files directory can serve as a knowledge base in the moment you can explaing end users how to use it and ensure they have all they need to connect to KB system you've built. Yes, sometimes users prefer to read PDF-files and watch videos than read manuals. And this is core thing you have to assume while choosing a tool or a technology for building knowledge base.