When thinking about managing internal knowledge, many companies make the mistake of limiting the scope of what they consider “knowledge” to be. Knowledge is too often siloed by team and restricted to certain types of information. The tendency is to zero in on the kind of knowledge that most readily comes to mind: packaged one sheets and documentation that have been created to serve a specific purpose. These assets vary across teams, but tend to include things like case studies, product and feature one sheets, and external-facing resources.
This mindset is understandable: a lot of effort goes into creating this kind of knowledge and it deserves to be managed and optimized for success. The problem with focusing on manufactured knowledge like that is it leads to the neglect of smaller, informal pieces of information. Sales assets and support documentation are only a part of knowledge; true knowledge encompasses all of the bits and pieces of intel within an organization. The best way to manage knowledge efficiently is to start out with a definition that accounts for every area of it. Learn more about the types of knowledge: explicit, implicit, and tacit.
Breaking it down
Make no mistake about it, knowledge like assets is key to winning deals, closing tickets, and driving revenue. Assets that are deliberately created to address a need – explaining a new feature, proving customer success, unseating a competitor – will always be key to any knowledge base.
The mistake happens when companies assume that this type of knowledge is all they need to achieve those ends. This is where the rest of knowledge, the informal intel, comes in. The knowledge you need to do your job is more than just the documents on your server: it’s the internal note your sales reps refer to when they need to remember how to create an opportunity in Salesforce; it’s the product FAQs your support team needs to have on hand when answering customer questions; it’s the email template your success team pastes in when explaining how a plan upgrade would solve a particular problem. It’s all the small tips and tricks and best practices that are not necessarily packaged or marketing-engineered, but are equally important to achieving key business outcomes.
Knowledge is like an iceberg
Assets are just the tip of the knowledge iceberg. Sure, a prospect may convert after exposure to packaged marketing assets, but how do you think your sales rep steered the conversation to a place where they could present your pitch deck in the first place? By leveraging your company’s internal knowledge behind the scenes – or below the surface. Much like how the majority of an iceberg’s mass sits beneath the surface of the ocean, much of the knowledge your teams need to do their jobs lies outside the sphere of external-facing assets.
Revenue teams require an extensive knowledge network of external- and internal-facing insights that help them communicate confidently and effectively. A comprehensive knowledge base features vital information about processes like email templates and discovery call tips, along with security FAQs, best practices, pricing information, customer quotes and testimonials, and competitive positioning. In addition to produced materials like videos, case studies, feature one sheets, blog posts, and API documentation.
So, if your definition of “knowledge management” has been limited to formalized assets, chances are your current solution doesn’t account for the knowledge that sits below the surface. Just because a certain insight isn’t the kind of information that needs to be printed on a PDF doesn’t mean that it isn’t valuable in empowering reps and driving revenue. Overlooking areas of knowledge that don’t traditionally spring to mind when thinking about knowledge management only puts your organization at a disadvantage. So, how can you expand your definition of knowledge to include all the necessary areas?
Expanding your knowledge base
In order to make all available information a part of your knowledge base, you need to first rethink the format that your knowledge takes. Knowledge outside traditional assets works best as bite-size content rather than long-form documents. When knowledge exists in smaller pieces, the barrier to adding new information is lower. Saving a particularly insightful tidbit from a phone call or the answer to a frequently asked product question is easier to do when it doesn’t mean editing a long-form document.
You also need a process to save knowledge quickly and easily. Engineered assets like infographics and onboarding guides don’t spring up organically; they’re planned out, executed on, and distributed by marketing. That process won’t work for all of your knowledge, because useful insights and best practices can arise at any time: on a call with a prospect, in conversation with a colleague, or when asking a subject matter expert a question. You need to provide a way for employees to easily save that information when it occurs, and better yet, where it occurs. A knowledge base that integrates into your workflow makes it easy to add knowledge as it arises.
A knowledge base that supports all types of information also lends itself to being department-agnostic. When you step away from thinking about knowledge solely as marketing assets or product documentation, you open your knowledge base up to include insights from other teams. Teams like HR and security typically don’t get dedicated marketing resources, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t own valuable intel that customer-facing teams may need. If your “knowledge” base doesn’t include different types of knowledge from multiple teams, it’s not that knowledgeable after all.
Knowledge is power
A true knowledge base transcends simple assets and includes tidbits of information of all shapes and sizes from all departments. The tribal knowledge that exists outside the confines of formalized documents often makes up the bulk of the information your teams need to do their jobs on a daily basis. Without a means for capturing the knowledge that lives in peoples’ heads or in informal settings, you risk perpetuating a hive-mind knowledge culture that siloes and restricts access to knowledge. Learn what it really means to be a knowledge-driven culture.
To take full advantage of the expertise living within your organization, you need a process that respects the full definition of knowledge: cross-functional, multi-departmental collective intelligence.
Now that you’ve refined your definition of knowledge, you may be wondering where else your current “knowledge” base is falling short. Walk through Guru’s knowledge base diagnostic to find out how your organization’s knowledge stacks up.