Authored by Reynold Leming of Mint Business Solutions, this article explores the value of and approaches to building an intranet knowledge base for your organisation.
What do you know about? When did you last provide information to a client or colleague to help them? Next time you address the same question or scenario, will you remember what you said or wrote last time? Or will you spend time searching back through emails and notes to find the answer? How much time do you spend repeating yourself? What do you do when you find or think of something else that would have been relevant?
Could your organisation benefit from establishing an intranet or extranet knowledge base relating to common client-facing and other business scenarios? In essence, should you give your staff a place to write up the challenges they have met for future personal re-use and the benefit of others? the content relating to these topics can then become focal points for other to add their ideas, opinions, anecdotes and other contributions.
You could benefit from:
- Improved personal productivity
- Completeness of knowledge
- Availability of best practice when staff are not available or away
- Innovation through collaboration
- Protecting the corporate memory when staff leave
- Providing training resources to new starters
Using flexible and cost effective content management technology similar to that which powers this web site, you could establish an intranet knowledge management system based upon a tailored yet simple taxonomy of subject matter topics. This could cover areas such as the services and goods you provide; the approaches to bids, jobs and projects; sourcing suppliers and partners; the key drivers affecting your business etc. Each main area could have a content owner, who would begin the process of seeding the system.
Each owner could think of about 5 key themes, whether these are problems solved, procedures that would be useful to publish, the answers to frequently asked questions etc. They can write content describing the context and the information narrative. Within (maintaing the narrative approach) or to this they can link any supporting web site urls, document files and contact email addresses; useful hard copy publications can be sign-posted. As content grows, it can also be used again (via hyperlinks) within other contributions ot which it has bearing.
Other users would have the ability to add their own thoughts and references; also discusisons could be started around these topics.
Whether browsing through the hierarchical taxonomy of subject-matter or using a search facility, these knowledge sets are now available for staff to locate and use. Another complementary function could be the integration of a skills register. Therefore, if you are unable to find the particular insights or information you require, you can search to see if you have colleagues with experience or skills in this area. The dialogue with one or more collaborators could be captured within the system via discussion threads.
Metadata can be assigned to the content, including a title and abstract. For example a web link could not only be published, it's content and value can be contextually described. Also keywords can be assigned relating to the "big themes", thus allowing the gathering of knowledge laterally from across topic folders.
Please also see our complementary information resource, The Document Site