Practical Insights from Industry Experts at Zendesk & Getty Images
A few weeks ago we delved into the science of navigating and structuring a company’s knowledge base, and trust me, it was a conversation that left everyone in the audience buzzing with ideas. Especially because our panelists were Christianne Beasley - Principal, Knowledge Management at Getty Images with a background in library and information science; and Niall Thomas - Senior Manager in Internal Knowledge at Zendesk with a background in computer science and specialization in knowledge management. Who wouldn’t want to pick their brains?
In this article we go over some of the topics we covered and bring to you the golden nuggets that I'm sure will inspire you to get hands-on in your own knowledge management journey.
I know, structuring a knowledge base can feel like an Everest of a task, and it's often the first question that pops up when you're venturing into this realm.
"How should I structure my knowledge base?", “How can we meet the needs of different teams?”...
Well, our expert panelists, shed some light on how they went on about it and shared their wisdom with all attendees.
Christianne and Niall made it clear that there's no one-size-fits-all solution, no magical formula that can turn your knowledge base into a masterpiece overnight, a point Anouk explores in a recent article. But worry not; they've offered two simple, but key, practical insights that can help you navigate this labyrinth:
The conversation quickly tackled the elephant in the room: Return on Investment (ROI) in knowledge management. Many of us have pondered this question at some point, and it's no surprise that it's challenging to measure. As one of our speakers noted, knowledge management isn't a tangible asset; it's a living, evolving entity.
However, the true ROI of knowledge management lies in its integration into the core of your business. Think of it as an indispensable part of your operations, so deeply ingrained that your business can't function without it. When your knowledge base becomes the go-to source for critical information, you've hit the jackpot.
Nevertheless, while the speakers acknowledged that there isn't a single, magical number that signifies success, there are various metrics that, when combined, can paint a clear picture of the value brought by a knowledge base.
Success in this case can mean different things for different companies. In some organizations the aim is to reduce onboarding time, while in others the focus is on reclaiming knowledge from external sources, improving internal communication, enabling self-service for customers, or enhancing employee engagement.
Successful ROI in Knowledge Management can look like:
But our discussion didn't stop at the theoretical level. Christiane and Niall shared practical tips for knowledge-based success. They stressed the importance of alignment with your own company. It's not about forcing your team to adapt to the knowledge base; it's about molding the knowledge base to fit seamlessly into their daily operations.
In essence, the knowledge base should be an extension of your team's work, a resource they can't imagine functioning without.
That’s why understanding how to get your team onboard is paramount.
As Christiane emphasized, involving end users from the earliest stages is ideal. Even before you start building the knowledge base, consider doing a Proof of Concept (POC) with different tools. This not only ensures that the tool aligns with your company's needs but also provides insights into how it will be used long-term. Moreover, Niall delved deeper into the concept of engagement, emphasizing that how people interact with your knowledge base is the linchpin of knowledge management. He likened knowledge management to a three-legged stool, where governance, taxonomy, and engagement are the legs. Without engagement, the stool collapses.
He provided valuable insights into how to work with individuals who might initially be hesitant about sharing their knowledge:
A knowledge base is often hailed as the "single source of truth" or even the "brain of a company." But here's the twist—there are types of content that shouldn't find a home in your knowledge base. Christiane raised an essential question: What happens to outdated or irrelevant content?
The answer lies in a well-thought-out strategy. While you're structuring your knowledge base, consider what to do with content that's past its prime. Filtering out outdated information is crucial to maintaining trust and credibility. As Niall wisely pointed out, incorrect content can be more damaging than having no content at all. Trustworthy, vetted, current information should be the backbone of your knowledge base.
Moreover, trust is built on transparency and responsiveness. Encouraging users to provide feedback on the knowledge base creates a feedback loop that fosters trust. That's why after a long debate, we could say that the key insights to create trust, balancing content flows and experts input are:
In a nutshell, our journey into the world of knowledge management has been quite the ride. Thanks to the insights from Christianne Beasley and Niall Thomas, we've got some practical takeaways that make navigating the knowledge maze less like scaling Everest and more like a well-guided hike.
Stay tuned to join our next talk!
Elisa Reggiardo is part of the Marketing team at Slite where she leads the Partner Marketing motions. She is also a mom, author, and a big fan of delicious wine.