Sometimes you lack the information or knowledge that is needed to do your work and need to find out in order to proceed. A great way to store and distribute this kind of knowledge and information in the organization is to use a knowledge platform. Here are some tips on how a powerful knowledge platform can look and be used for best results.
Accessibility and structure
The perhaps most important with a knowledge platform is that it is easy to find what you are looking for. It should steal as little time from the working as possible - partly to increase the productivity and partly to reduce the stress that often can arise when it is tough to find answers to one's questions.
Can you relate to having to search in several places to find the answers you seek? When everything that regards the workplace - from how to operate the coffee maker to how the work assignments are done - is located at the same place, it is easy to manage the workday without taking long breaks. Think Google: You always start in the same place, a search bar, that then leads you to the right website based on what you search for.
Another important aspect in the establishment of a knowledge platform is structure. The better categorization you have, the easier it gets for the end-users to find what they are looking for. Something that several users of our platform are doing to organize their guide is that they categorize them by roles; "me as a manager" or "me as a new employee". In turn, these categories have subcategories with material relevant for managers or those who are newly employed. Another great example is categorising based on department, such as "IT" or "HR".
When you categorize the guides like this, the end-users will not have to look in a huge sea of guides. Thanks to a clear structure, you can quickly and easily find what you seek.
Content to fill the platform with
A great way to start filling the platform with material is to take a look at questions that are frequently asked by the end-users. For example, look up the 10 most common support issues, or try to think of what the colleagues constantly asks about. Document the answers to these questions and you will have a solid foundation of guides to develop further. Additionally, these guides will be benefiting the users from day one.
Another great starting point is to document the most common systems that are used in the organisation or in your department. Instructional guides that are available on the web is most often generic and may not reflect your routines in the system. By instead creating guides that describe how you use the system, you make your ways of working clear for the users and can prevent misunderstandings.
What you additionally do when starting out is to fill the platform with content regarding new employees, which could be both an introductory course, a handbook for new employees, and separate guides that the newly employed can lean on during their workdays without having to go through a full handbook.
Questions you can ask yourselves are:
- "What is most important for a new employee to know?"
- "Which general routines are there at the workplace?"
- "How does the equipment needed for different tasks work?"
- "What does a new employee need to know to start working in our systems?"
To create the best possible learning curve, it is important not to overload the new employees with information during the first part of their introduction. The introductory course should instead be more general and focus on their understanding of the new workplace and role. It is better to let them learn the details about how everything is done by themselves while they are in the situation of need, with the help of your available handbook and guides.
Read more: How you can use InfoCaption for your onboarding
To think about when creating content
You can probably agree that it can be time-consuming to scroll through a long text document or go back and forth in an instructional video that is half an hour long to find the part that answers our questions. Therefore, when creating content for your platform, have in mind that splitting your guides and videos into smaller pieces will make them easier to handle for your users.
Split up the content based on the steps in the activity that are to be performed, features in the system that are being documented, or parts of the process that are being described. This type of guides should not only be easy to find, it is also important that they are easy to take in in order to prevent longer breaks in the workday. A rule of thumb is that it should not take more than 10 minutes for the user to find and take in the information or knowledge needed to proceed with their tasks.
Another thing to have in mind is that these guides do not have to be perfect to be of help, especially if they are supposed to help the user solve a problem. A sloppy screen recording or a text document that is not graphically perfect can be of as much help as well-planned content with a longer production time.
As long as the right information is available, the visuals are of less importance. Strive to create content that is helpful, rather than it being perfect.
Distributing the content to the users
Many knowledge platforms, like InfoCaption, have built-in search pages and search functions that help the users find what they seek. The functionality differs in different platforms, but something great to have in mind when choosing a platform is that the user should be able to find the right guide as easy as possible, for example, through categorizations or filtering options. The easier it is to find what they seek, the more trust the users have in the platform.
As earlier mentioned, it is smart to document the answers to the most common questions and problems that arise for your users. The next time a user comes with the same question, you can refer to the documented material instead of answering them directly. With time, it becomes routine for the users to check the platform for answers before asking colleagues or contacting support. In addition to the fact that those sitting on the knowledge get more time to other tasks, this prevents the knowledge from being person dependent. All of the knowledge in the organisation becomes availably for everyone - right in the moment of need.
If you already have places today where the users go to find answers to their questions, like, for example, a website or intranet, it can be smart to link or embed guided and search pages at these places. This way, you give the users a natural transition to the new platform. One of our customers, PE Accounting, has integrated InfoCaption with their own application so that the users can click a "help" button in the application to show a list of helping guides based on where in the application they are located.
How to maintain the platform the best way
It is impossible to run from the fact that material created one day will become obsolete. Routines, systems and ways of working will change with time, and the existing documentation will no longer be relevant. How do you keep track of what needs to be updated in the platform?
One thing you can do is to go through the contents of the platform when a system or routine has been updated or replaced. Have a menu in the system changed place? Is a routine now run in a completely different way? Verify that the documentation is still relevant, and update when needed. In InfoCaption, this can be handled easily since links to the guides will always stay the same. When the source material is updated, the update will be made on all places where the material is linked to, embedded or connected.
To ensure that the platform always contains relevant information, it is important with regular content reviews at an administrative level, which could occur on a monthly, quarterly or yearly basis. How often a review is needed depends on how often changes happen in the organization. In InfoCaption, there is an option to get reminders when a guide has not been updated in a year, for example. The platform will notify the creator and show a list of all their guides that should be reviewed and updated to match the new reality.
Five tips for a successful knowledge platform
- It should be easy to find what you seek. Structurize the material into categories based on, e.g. roles, departments, or areas of use. Give the guides clear names to make it easy for the end-users to understand what they are about.
- "Think before you act" when it comes to structuring. It can take a lot longer to re-structurize a platform filled with guides than to plan it out before it is fully implemented. A great structure does not only make it easy for the users to find the right guides, but the platform will also become easier to administrate.
- Split up the content for the sake of the users. The shorter, the better. Have several short guides rather than a few long ones! It should not take long to either find the guides or absorb what they are trying to teach.
- "Good enough" goes a long way. It is very common to want to make everything perfect before going live, but this kind of guide does not have to be perfect to help. Save time and resources by setting "good enough" as the target.
- Inform about the platform where the users usually are. Think about where your target audience usually is when they need help, and try to make the way as short as possible from there to the platform, either by linking or embedding your guides and search pages.