Knowledge is the lifeblood of any organization. It’s the resources, the processes, and the secret sauce that makes a company tick. It’s the documentation and information that all of us rely on to do our jobs. Despite its importance, internal knowledge is often under-optimized, as many organizations fail to see the consequences of a poorly thought-out knowledge management approach. They assume that whatever “solution” — or lack thereof — they have in place is good enough. We’re here to tell you that this is not the case. Every organization is susceptible to knowledge mismanagement, and the effects are more far reaching than they appear.
Think your organization doesn’t have a knowledge problem? Think again. Here are the top 8 ways your knowledge plays hard-to-get:
1. You're not sure that what you've found has been updated recently
It’s important to know that the resources you’re using are accurate and up-to-date. If you spend time scanning documents to make sure they’re the most recent versions — or worse, sharing out-of-date resources externally — you have a knowledge problem. Relying on a folder or file naming convention only creates uncertainty around version control, and does nothing to guarantee that the knowledge inside a resource has been updated recently. When users can’t trust the information in your system, they won’t use it. That makes it easier for them to disturb someone else to ask for the latest version than it is to determine whether what they found is, in fact, accurate.
Without a knowledge management solution, you may be able to see when a file was last updated, but that’s not the same as seeing that a colleague has verified that the information is ‘trusted’. For example, Guru holds authors accountable for the information they create. If someone adds knowledge to Guru, their name is attached to it and they become responsible for verifying that the information is accurate on a set cadence. With a knowledge solution, users don’t have to wonder if what they found is recent; they know with certainty when a given resource was last verified and by whom. Inspiring trust in your knowledge will empower your teammates to work with confidence.
2. You have to search separate destinations one by one to find what you’re looking for
Without a universal home with a universal search feature for your company’s resources, searching for knowledge will always be an exercise in inefficiency. You know that a specific piece of information exists somewhere, but you’re not sure where. You have a keyword or snippet of text in mind that you can search for, but without a clue as to where the information lives, you have to be prepared to search your desktop, your inbox, Slack, your file hosting service, and any other online repository where knowledge exists.
When all of your information lives in one place, all it takes is one search to find what you’re looking for. And not just any search, but one right within the application you’re already working in. No matter what site you’re on, a browser extension like Guru’s is right there with you, waiting to provide the information you seek. The same goes for Slack. A simple Slack action prompts the Guru bot to pull up the information you’re looking for right within your Slack app. Forget wasting time searching more than once through multiple destinations — one click is all you need.
3. It only exists in a subject matter expert’s head
Subject matter experts (SMEs) are like human encyclopedias. They know their areas of expertise so thoroughly that they can answer any question at the drop of a hat. Unfortunately, most SMEs are not paid to sit around and serve as encyclopedias to their peers. Usually they have important work of their own to tend to, and pausing their workflows to answer questions from colleagues distracts them from delivering real value. We’ve helped customers do the math before, and the amount of money it costs them to have valuable SMEs spending time answering repeat questions rather than focusing on their own work is scary. Thousands of dollars wasted each week scary.
Knowledge management solutions let SMEs “brain dump” their expertise into an online resource that can be updated and edited as they see fit. That way, when team members have questions, they can go straight to the source for answers without having to bother the actual source. Plus, a verification feature like Guru’s tells users that the information available is trusted and up-to-date, eliminating any need to double check with the SME.
4. It lives in a system not everyone has access to
As organizations grow and individual teams develop their own processes, disconnects often occur as different tools are adopted. Maybe your marketing team hosts their files in Dropbox, but your product team operates exclusively in Trello. Customer-facing reps need access to information from both these teams, but may not have a login to either tool. This leaves them dependent on other teams, unable to help themselves to the information they need when they need it.
Hosting all of your teams’ resources in one place builds a strong internal knowledge network and empowers individuals to find the information they need to do their jobs without bothering others. At Guru, all of our teams keep their resources in Guru, and we all benefit from the shared knowledge. Our customer-facing teams have access to vital information owned by marketing, engineering, and even security and compliance. Empowering reps to find the knowledge they need quickly is crucial, especially when customers and prospects are waiting on the line. Lack of knowledge is frustrating for reps and customers alike.
The more information your teams have access to, the better equipped they’ll be to service all requests quickly and efficiently.
5. Your knowledge is passive, not active
Maybe your knowledge is well organized. You’re satisfied with your folder structure and think that your resources are easy for people to find. But, that’s all it does: sit around passively waiting for people to find it. Searching a passive knowledge base works fine when you have a particular result in mind, but what about when you’re not sure exactly what you need? With traditional search, you’re limited to the confines of your search terms. If a sales rep knows that a particular case study in your knowledge base will help prove a point to a prospect, they’ll search for that case study and send it along. But what if they don’t know that there is also an old blog post on the same topic that would further nuance the point they’re trying to prove? Although related, that blog post won’t show up on a simple search for a case study, and your sales rep just missed out on a key opportunity.
Knowledge management solutions that are powered by AI take knowledge from passive to active. At Guru, we like to say that we’re not in the business of useful knowledge, but in making knowledge useful. We believe that information shouldn’t just live in your knowledge base; it should find you when you need it and help you work smarter. Guru’s AI Suggest technology serves up relevant knowledge right within your existing workflow, based on the context it gleans from your web page. If you’re typing an email about a specific feature, AI Suggest will offer up relevant knowledge that speaks to that feature. Guru’s AI gets smarter over time as it learns individual and organizational patterns, making every piece of knowledge served relevant and useful. With AI doing all the knowledge surfacing legwork, humans are left to focus on doing what they do best: delighting customers.
Psst! Use Guru's knowledge diagnostic to find out if your knowledge base is active or passive.
6. Informal knowledge is not captured
When thinking about knowledge management, formal knowledge is what usually comes to mind. Formal knowledge includes resources like blog posts, case studies, and one sheets created by teams like marketing specifically for wider distribution. But formal knowledge is only one part of the information that makes up an effective knowledge base. Informal knowledge is just as important, but is often overlooked. Informal knowledge includes things like on-the-job learning and insights gleaned by individuals, often from conversations and interactions.
For example, a new hire sends a Slack to his manager asking a question about a specific process, and his manager types out a thoughtful answer. It then occurs to the manager that if his new hire had this question, chances are other new hires have the same question. He uses Guru’s Slack bot to save his typed response in Guru, which gives all employees access to the answer he just took the time to type out. Instead of having that conversation help one employee and then get lost in a long Slack thread, the Guru bot empowers users to save informal knowledge, making it usable for all employees.
Giving your team a means to capture informal knowledge is critical to building an internal knowledge network. Whether that knowledge comes from an external interaction or an internal chat, the ability to quickly add that information to a knowledge network helps reps help each other. Simply giving individuals an avenue to share niche information will increase the knowledge your team has to work with by leaps and bounds.
7. It lives in static documents that are clunky to work with and update
You’ve done it: you’ve found the exact snippet of information you’ve been looking for. The only problem is, it lives within a 20-page PDF. Or a slide deck. To simply pull out the fact you need, you are forced to download the file, open a new application, sift through all the pages or slides, and then copy the information you need. Storing information exclusively in clunky documents like PDFs or PPTs makes it difficult to access bits and pieces of it. Those file types are also static and not easily editable. What if, after going to all that effort looking for a stat, you realize it’s quoting a source from 2015? To get that PDF updated, you’ll have to figure out who owns the resource, then ping that person and ask them to edit the file for you.
A modular knowledge structure gives you the opportunity to store all the information you need in accessible, bite-sized pieces. The key themes, stats, and figures from the PDF you need can all be bulleted out for simpler copy-pasting. Organizing information in dynamic formats makes it easy for users to find what they need and makes it easy for SMEs to update content. Remember that stat from 2015? If using a modular structure like Guru, you can simply request verification on the knowledge in Guru and the SME who added it will be notified that something they wrote is now out of date. They can insert a new stat and the issue is resolved, no PDF-editing required. And for use cases where documents like PDFs and PPTs are the correct mediums for sharing information, Guru lets you embed documents as well.
8. You don’t know which knowledge is being used effectively
With the proliferation of resources floating around your organization, how can you be certain that the document you chose is the best one for the job? Do you have a way of measuring which resources and assets influence opportunities? Do you have insights into which content your colleagues have found success with? Can your marketing team calculate ROI on the knowledge they’re creating?
Analytics into how your knowledge is being used makes that knowledge work harder for you. With Guru’s analytics, for example, you can see which knowledge is being viewed, copied, and sent to prospects and customers the most. You can tie collateral back to opportunities and understand which pieces of content are impacting business objectives. There is also an activity log detailing which resources your colleagues are sending. Seeing which pieces of collateral are being used by sales reps for certain prospects can help inform sales strategies. If someone else’s prospect in industry X opened a particular document, maybe another teammate’s prospect in industry X would find value in that doc as well.
Marketing teams can glean insights from Guru analytics as well. Understanding which resources are being used the most provides valuable insight into what reps needs to close tickets and deals. Guru also provides analytics into searches producing no results. Seeing that several reps have searched for “security” tells marketing that there is a need for knowledge about your company’s security policies. Your relationship with knowledge can be a two-way street; let it tell you where it’s succeeding and where it has holes.
Why you need to rethink your knowledge management strategy
Still think your organization doesn’t have a knowledge problem? No company is immune to the growing pains that necessitate implementing a knowledge management solution. If your company is growing and innovating, if your SMEs’ time is extremely valuable, if you have customers to delight, you need a knowledge management solution. There is quantifiable value in optimizing your company’s resources to make them accessible and actionable. Don’t settle for “good enough” when it comes to the lifeblood of your organization. Find out how a knowledge management solution like Guru can help your organization manage its knowledge and drive revenue.