6 Ways How to Use the Knowledge of Your Company

Every company has different assets. Physical ones like production machinery, cars and computers and non-physical ones - brand, reputation and knowledge. In my experience companies are quite good with managing the physical ones because they cost money, the law requires that, it is taught in every business management school that you should do that and there are ERP systems that help you with that. Companies are also very motivated with managing assets like brand and reputation as a part of their marketing and sales activities since it is very hard to do business in the age of internet without that.

What many companies are lacking though is good management of knowledge. This is often left to employees - they store the knowledge in their computers, document folders and mainly - their brains. They have meetings where they exchange this knowledge, but that is quite expensive as every time someone needs knowledge that John has - (s)he has to have a meeting with John. If he is not available - (s)he waits. If John leaves the company - someone is hired to learn again from scratch and that is a huge loss.

We are a knowledge based company and thus we need to treat knowledge with the same care as a factory needs to manage their machinery. We need to constantly document, maintain, fix and update our knowledge in an efficient manner. This is why I think we are a bit better with knowledge management than many other companies and our experience might help someone to improve theirs.

 

1. Create Knowledge Bases and FAQs 

How often do you think a question is asked multiple times by different or even the same people in the same company? Of course it depends on the question, but there are many questions that are asked again and again, day after day. And each time there is someone who is looking for the answer and someone answering it. Time is spent, delays occur, resources are wasted.

There is a fairly simple solution to this issue that we are using - Knowledge base. Do you know Wikipedia? The place where you go when you need to know how cats are making purring noises and why do they do that? Or what is EBITDA and how to calculate it? Knowledge base is the same, but for internal company questions. Once a question is asked you just need to write down the answer in knowledge base and tell the person who asked it to look for it there. And tell everyone else to look there first before asking someone. With time it becomes as normal as asking Google anything. You can structure the content in whatever way you want, add labels, tags, create multiple knowledge bases for different parts of the business or departments. You can create your own Wikipedia.

We are using Atlassian Confluence for that. It is a great product allowing to search quickly in the vast amount of information, create new information in an easy way and share it inside the company. We have also separate knowledge base for our customers where we capture answers to most frequent questions, create manuals for the system administrators and end users, and reuse them all the time. It is always up to date and always available.

Do your employees and customers ask questions? Perhaps you should consider something like Confluence too.

 

2. Optimise Project and Product Management

We are managing tens of projects and products simultaneously. There are lots of meetings happening and many tasks are created. There are product requirements agreed upon in multiple iterations by multiple people, and all of this needs to be tracked somehow. We use Confluence for that as well. Each project can have it's own wiki space where meeting notes can be stored and shared among the shareholders, tasks can be assigned and progress tracked. Project requirements can be written down, changed and history can be traced and audited. If we would try to use e-mails and documents for this - we would be in big trouble.

I believe that every company has projects - internal and external. There is a lot of different unstructured information related to them - documents, meeting notes, budgets, tasks and all of it changes constantly. Confluence can create a single source of truth allowing everyone to be efficient and spend their mental resources for what actually needs to be done in the project. It even allows to collaborate on the same document at the same time for multiple people. Yes - exactly like Google Docs do.

 

3. Manage Policies and Processes

Every company has internal rules. How to treat customers, how to treat colleagues, how to apply for vacation or any other policy and or guideline. With time the policies change and even if you manage to send out some information via e-mail or train your employees in person - they will need to access this information again and again and it will change. You don't want them to look up an old e-mail sent in 2010 to follow it. Confluence allows to create a documentation space to share all the processes in the same place, keep them up to date and always have them at your fingertips. Not to mention that for new employees it is so much easier to just read all the guidelines there and be up to date in the shortest time possible.

 

4. Help Onboarding

Talking about new employees... We struggled with onboarding for a long time until we found a very simple solution. If all the knowledge is in Confluence - why wouldn't we manage onboarding there as well? We created a human resources space where we created onboarding task list which is copied for every new employee to see what tasks they need to do, provide links to the necessary content and track their progress as they mark each task done once they feel they have covered it. Simple and beautiful. No more "Oh, I forgot to tell him that" or if that happens - at least we can update the onboarding template and be sure that this will not happen again with the next employees.

 

5. Connect Marketing, Sales, Legal, Human Resources and Any Other Department

Each department has their specific knowledge. Marketing has their brochures, brand books and approved ad copy rights, sales have their plans, strategies and call scripts, legal have their contract templates and human resources have their training plans and 360 degree review templates. These are just some of the examples of information that we store and share using Confluence. Each department has their own space where they can store their valuable information in the structure most suitable for them. And all the departments are working together. Sales needs marketing materials, marketing needs legal advice and so on. Confluence allows to share this information effortlessly and without unnecessary meetings and time wasted.

 

6. Improve Meetings

Some meetings are needed of course. But they are much more efficient if there is previously known meeting agenda and written discussion points after it so everyone is on the same page. And action points - if there are none after a meeting - it was very likely a waste of time. In Confluence you can write down tasks directly in meeting notes or even use JIRA tasks for bigger projects.

You can of course manage security accordingly - board meeting notes will be available to board only and HR discussions only to HR and operations or whatever are your needs.

I hope some of our examples sparked an idea about vast amount of knowledge that your company has as well. Where is it stored today? Computers, document forlders, brains? It works as well, but we can help you to make it more efficient with centralised knowledge base where your employees can collaborate efficiently.

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