In today’s world, it has become increasingly important for companies to have easy access to accurate information. An IT knowledge base can assist with this by using various software applications and systems to streamline IT operations.
An IT knowledge base can significantly enhance the quality and efficiency of your customer and employee experience by providing them with information and knowledge at their fingertips. This can improve the overall customer service experience, and it can empower your employees, which can improve their job satisfaction and efficiency.
In this article, we’ll explore what an IT knowledge base is and the advantages of implementing an effective one. We’ll also discuss the necessary steps that organisations should take when setting up their knowledge base, as well as provide examples of knowledge base software solutions.
What is an IT knowledge base?
In the same way that a company manages its IT Assets, it also must employ systems to manage its information.
An IT knowledge base is a centralised database or digital storage area that includes information, resources and solutions pertaining to the company’s policies, procedures and IT systems.
This provides a single point of truth for information, enabling employees and customers to efficiently and effectively find answers to questions, troubleshoot issues and perform tasks more proficiently.
An IT knowledge base typically includes a variety of sources. These can include:
- Articles and documentation providing guidance and instruction for specific organisational-related tasks
- Frequently asked questions (FAQs) that provide quick answers to common questions
- Video tutorials on how to perform a task or solve a problem
- Troubleshooting resources such as flowcharts which help diagnose and solve common technical problems and best practices to optimise performance
What is an internal IT knowledge base?
An internal IT knowledge base is a centralised storage of information that’s specific to an organisation’s internal policies and procedures, which is essential for the efficient functioning of a company.
A Coveo report reveals that employees spend approximately 3.6 hours per day searching for information, leading to a significant financial burden for their employers. This time lost not only impacts productivity but also revenue-generating tasks. Extended search times can also result in increased hold times for customers, leading to them feeling dissatisfied.
Failing to provide adequate resources to your team can be highly unprofitable. Large corporations lose revenue annually because their employees are busy researching information or duplicating resources that already exist but can’t be located.
Implementing an efficient IT knowledge base can improve the employee experience, significantly reduce research time and improve overall organisational performance.
What is an external IT knowledge base?
An external IT knowledge base is a centralised repository of information that pertains to an organisation’s products, services or technology solutions provided to external customers or clients.
Creating an external IT knowledge base can help organisations improve customer satisfaction, reduce customer support costs and enhance the organisation’s reputation.
Despite assembling a team of skilled and innovative members and developing impressive products or services that meet customers’ needs, you may find that customers struggle to utilise the full potential of your product, leading to a backlog of customer support inquiries.
This can impact your support agents’ productivity and customer satisfaction, as customers become frustrated while waiting for answers, reducing their loyalty to your company. To tackle these issues, many companies have implemented an external IT knowledge base.
The specific content of an external IT knowledge base depends on your goals and target audience. The most common types of information include:
- Troubleshooting guides
- Product tutorials
- FAQs about ordering, billing, shipping and returns
- Contact information
- Information on new products or features
Having all this information readily available can save your company resources and demonstrates to your current and prospective customers that your organisation values their time.
Why should companies build an IT Knowledge Base?
An IT knowledge base is not merely a repository for content and information; it provides a strategic advantage. There are numerous benefits to having an effective IT knowledge base, including:
1. Increase efficiency
An IT knowledge base can help employees find information and solutions quickly and efficiently, reducing downtime caused by searching for answers in an unorganised manner.
By centralising all necessary resources, such as Standard Operating Procedures, employee handbooks, training material, sales and marketing collateral, legal documents and customer service standards, employees can spend more time focusing on critical tasks instead of searching for files.
2. Improve consistency
An IT knowledge base helps to maintain consistency across departments and within teams by providing a single, reliable source of information that eliminates confusion and prevents the application of conflicting procedures.
3. Supports self-service
An effective IT knowledge base empowers customers and employees to tackle the problem-solving process on their own. This improves employee satisfaction and relieves the pressure caused by persistent customer queries on your support staff.
4. Induction and training
An internal IT knowledge base that includes in-house training is a useful tool for the training and development of existing employees and the orientation of new staff. It empowers employees quickly and reduces the time and resources needed to train and onboard team members.
5. Improve customer service
The significance of time in the customer service industry cannot be overstated. Microsoft’s report reveals that a staggering 90% of customers worldwide anticipate organisations and brands to provide an online self-service customer support platform.
By embracing IT knowledge base software, you can improve your customer service team’s ability to provide prompt assistance. The software simplifies the process of finding the right answer by gathering common support documentation and FAQs, saving your team from wasting valuable time searching for irrelevant information.
6. Sharing of knowledge
As employees leave the organisation for various reasons (retirement, job change or even temporarily for a vacation or medical leave), you risk losing the valuable knowledge acquired during their time with the company. This creates problems for the people who are tasked with picking up the pieces. To avoid this loss, you need a proper system in place to handle knowledge transfer.
An IT knowledge base assists with the preservation of organisational knowledge. Knowledge and expertise can be stored and shared with others in the company. This creates an ethos of association and continuous learning, leading to improved quality of work and innovation.
How to build an IT knowledge base
Knowledge-centred service (KCS) is an ITSM practice that entails creating and maintaining a knowledge base as part of the customer service process. KCS involves getting the in-depth knowledge of IT teams out of their heads and onto the page, creating detailed documentation that employees, system users and new staff can use without constantly bombarding the service desk with the same requests.
KCS improves ITSM processes, increases first-contact resolution rates, reduces issue reporting and improves employee satisfaction and retention rates.
Here are some common traits and best practices for companies to follow when building an IT knowledge base:
Any IT knowledge base conversation starts with a search bar. Research has shown that Google registers 3.5 billion searches per day. Search is universal. We rely on it as a society; it’s become a reality of our daily routine. Every IT knowledge base solution must start there.
Every knowledge base is associated with a storage system which includes hierarchical folders, categorical systems, visual catalogues, training and troubleshooting information. A perceptive storage system can also serve as a backup for your search bar.
With that said, search is limited if there’s a lack of content or a lack of structure. Your organisation has to decide what content should be included and how to attach searchable tags to the available content.
Here are some basic steps to follow when setting up the content of your IT knowledge base:
1. Consider your audience
Do you want your knowledge base to support your employees, your customers or both? Once you know which audience or audiences you want your knowledge base to serve, research where the biggest gaps in knowledge exist.
2. Identify key topics
Start by identifying the key topics that should be covered in the knowledge base. Base this on the most common questions and issues that employees or customers encounter.
Some other questions to ask yourself include:
- Which department receives a constant influx of information requests?
- How long does it take to respond to employee and client queries, and is this response time optimal?
- Is poor information sharing causing a decline in productivity across your organisation?
- What critical knowledge gaps would arise if specific employees left the company?
3. Gather information
Creating an initial list of topics to cover in your knowledge base should be a fairly simple task. Look through your support queue to see which questions you answer repeatedly, and talk to your team to get a sense of what they feel your most frequently asked questions are.
Depending on the length of your list, you may also need to prioritise the order in which you’ll create each article. If you come up with 10 topics, you can probably start writing and knock them all out. But if you come up with 100, you’ll want to spend some time prioritising.
4. Create documentation
Develop documentation and guides that provide step-by-step instructions for various tasks and procedures. This can include screenshots, videos and other visual aids to help employees better understand the information.
5. Set up a platform
Choose a platform for your knowledge base. The platform should be easy to use and allow for easy search and navigation.
Not sure where to start? Contact Xcession to help you set up and maintain your IT Knowledge base with one of our easy-to-use software solutions.
6. Organise the content
Organise your content in a way that makes sense to users, such as by category, topic or task. Use clear and consistent labels and tags to help users find the information they need quickly.
7. Promote the IT knowledge base
Make sure employees and customers are aware of the knowledge base and encourage them to use it. This may involve providing training and support to help employees navigate and use the platform effectively.
How to track an IT knowledge base
Tracking your IT knowledge base is important to ensure that the content is up-to-date, relevant and useful for its intended audience. Here are ways to track the effectiveness and usability of your knowledge base:
Many knowledge-base software solutions include usage analytics that can track how frequently articles are viewed, which articles are most popular and how users interact with the content. This can provide insights into which topics are most relevant to users and identify areas where content may need to be updated or expanded upon.
Provide users with the ability to provide feedback on articles, such as through a rating system or comments section. This can help identify areas where the content may be unclear or insufficient and allow for continuous improvement.
Schedule regular reviews of the content in the knowledge base to ensure that it remains up-to-date and accurate. This can be done by assigning ownership of specific articles to individuals or teams who are responsible for keeping them up-to-date.
Conduct periodic content audits to assess the relevance and usefulness of the articles in the knowledge base. This can help identify areas where new content may be needed or where existing content can be consolidated or removed.
Conduct user surveys to gather feedback on the overall usefulness of the knowledge base and areas where improvements can be made. This can help identify new features or functionality that would be beneficial to users.
Knowledge base software solutions for IT and support
Xcession provides a variety of knowledge base software solutions ideal for IT and support departments. Let’s take a look at some of these solutions.
FreshService is a software solution that helps businesses create, maintain and share organisational knowledge with their users. Key features include:
- Best practices for Knowledge Management, such as gathering, structuring, reusing and enhancing knowledge
- Three-tier structure of categories, folders and articles to manage knowledge base content
- Supports different multimedia formats like images, videos and GIFs to customise articles
- End-user feedback functionality to help improve the knowledge base
- Access control to ensure that only relevant users can create, edit, or delete articles.
ServiceNow’s Knowledge Management solution helps businesses increase self-service rates, improve knowledge sharing and achieve continuous improvement. Key features include:
- Integration with Microsoft Word for streamlined article creation
- Machine learning-powered insights that identify knowledge gaps and opportunities for improvement
- In-context article creation that enables users to create articles while working
- Knowledge harvesting and reusable knowledge blocks to reduce repetition and increase efficiency
- Analytics and dashboards that provide insights into knowledge use, feedback and gaps
- AI-powered search, group ownership, subscriptions and translation management for enhanced knowledge management capabilities.
4Me’s Knowledge Management solution is based on the Knowledge-Centered Service (KCS) methodology and includes a wide range of features. Key features include:
- Integrated Self Service interface that enables end-users to access instructions and relevant knowledge articles
- Virtual Agent that helps employees find the most appropriate articles
- AI-powered search results that improve over time based on user feedback
- Review search phrases to identify knowledge gaps and opportunities for improvement
- Integration with problem management, allowing for the publication of workaround instructions for known errors as articles.
Jira Service Management’s knowledge base tool makes it easy for service teams to manage and share knowledge. Key features include:
- Empowering customers to find their own solutions through the help centre
- Allowing agents to share articles with customers or use them as a reference while working
- Gathering feedback for more helpful article updates
- Encouraging agents to create new articles if a request requires a new solution
- Providing standardised answers to customer questions instead of multiple responses from different sources.
An IT knowledge base provides a strategic advantage as it enhances both customer and employee experience through easy access to information and knowledge. This leads to improved customer service, user satisfaction and efficiency while also supporting self-service, induction and training.
By allowing employees and customers to quickly find solutions and maintain consistency, it empowers them to solve problems independently.
Xcession offers a variety of software solutions to assist companies in establishing and managing their IT knowledge base. Contact us to find out more.