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How to Create an Internal Knowledge Base: A Complete Guide with Tools & Software

How to create Internal Knowledge Base

Employees spend an inordinate amount of time every single day looking for information tucked away in documents, email chains, and spreadsheets. 

When valuable work time is spent on trivial tasks like information gathering, employee productivity, creativity, and performance take a hit. 

An internal knowledge base is the best solution to this persistent problem faced by organizations today. 

It is a one-stop point where critical company information can be centrally managed, stored, and retrieved by employees. No hassles and headaches of juggling between multiple files!

This comprehensive guide uncovers everything there is to know about an internal knowledge base. Let’s find out.

What Is an Internal Knowledge Base ? 

An internal knowledge base is a one-stop platform for all the information employees need to work efficiently. 

It is a centralized hub where you can securely store your company policies, product and service information, and standard operating procedures and let employees across departments access this data on their desktop or mobile devices. 

This platform comes with a powerful search system that serves up relevant responses to employees’ questions and provides them instant access to anything they need. Moreover, the visual imagery used in the knowledge base helps employees grasp information quickly and put it to good use. 

Why Do You Need an Internal Knowledge Base? 

An internal knowledge base is a centralized platform for storing, managing, and sharing information. We all know this. But the question is, what exactly is it used for, and do you really need an internal knowledge base

Here are a few signs that indicate you have a dire need of an internal knowledge base: 

  • Lack of collaboration between teams 
  • Teams spend an unreasonable amount of time digging through emails, documents, and spreadsheets to gain information 
  • Employee training is a hectic and time-consuming task 
  • Knowledge hoarding is a major issue 
  • You have a cluttered workspace that often hampers transparency and productivity

If these are the common issues you constantly confront, consider implementing an internal knowledge base without a second thought. 

An internal knowledge base is an informational resource where employees can find help instantly. But, this is just the tip of the iceberg. 

There is much more to this platform.

News, updates, & launches 

The product team launches a product, but how do you notify everyone about this good news? That’s where a knowledge base helps. All your upcoming launches, process, feature, or service updates can be added to this portal. Everyone in your company will have access to the same information, regardless of which department they work for.

Training materials for new employees 

 It’s natural for new hires to be a little nervous during the first few days of their joining. An internal knowledge base helps you offer a smooth onboarding experience, making employees feel more confident and comfortable in the new work environment.

A platform that sparks innovation 

Employees across departments – sales, design, and marketing, can use the internal knowledge base to brush up their knowledge on various topics and drive innovation in their respective fields.

Notable Benefits of an Internal Knowledge Base 

Creating an internal knowledge base can be beneficial for your business in numerous ways. From team collaboration and productivity to employee training, a knowledge base positively impacts multiple areas of your business. 

Let’s look at some of the notable benefits of an internal knowledge base: 

Seamless Internal Communication 

Contrary to popular belief, a knowledge base is not just a knowledge-sharing platform. Modern knowledge base systems give your employees the space to communicate via comments, discussion forums, or internal chats. They can discuss and resolve issues on the fly by immediately taking guidance from their peers or managers. 

An internal knowledge base helps you build an interactive work environment where employees can instantly discuss roadblocks and get solutions right away.

Productivity & Performance Gets Better 

A study by Panopta shows that employees spend a shocking 5.3 hours every week waiting for the information they need to perform their jobs. This is a big productivity killer and impacts projects in more ways than you can imagine. 

Internal Knowledge Base

An internal knowledge base empowers employees with 24×7 access to your company policies, work processes, client information, and much more. 

This convenience of accessing information anytime they need saves employees from scouting for information across emails, Google Drive, and Word Docs. With information available at their fingertips, employees can utilize their time productively and make informed decisions at work. 

As productivity rises, performance gets a boost, and every department of your company starts performing to its full potential. 

Smooth Employee Training 

Employee training is not a one-time event. It’s a continuous process that helps your employees upskill and stay on top of industry trends. 

An internal knowledge base can provide the right coaching to your employees, helping them flourish in their existing or new roles. It creates a positive self-learning environment where teams have access to a variety of learning materials in the form of how-to videos and guides. 

You don’t have to shell out an exorbitant amount of money to organize training sessions. Employees can learn at their own pace in the office or from the comfort of their homes. The goal is to instill a learning environment where employees keep honing their skills and widening their knowledge pool.

Read More: Turn Employee Training Effortless With Training Documentation

Support Employee Onboarding 

Did you know that a strong onboarding process can boost productivity by a whopping 70%? Yes, you heard that right!

On the contrary, poor onboarding creates an environment of discomfort for new hires, which is the main reason why they tend to leave in just 3 or 6 months. 

An internal knowledge base can support your employee onboarding endeavors by equipping new hires with all the guidance they need to get familiar with their new role. It handholds them at every step, helping them sink into your company culture and become meaningful contributors in the initial months of joining. 

Read More: Employee Onboarding: How to Use Your Knowledge Base Effectively

What Are Internal Knowledge Bases Used for? 

Internal knowledge base tools can be used to accomplish multiple goals that have a direct bearing on your organization’s growth and development. 

Let’s look at some of the areas where an internal knowledge base can bring a positive impact: 

  • Cross-team collaboration: Teams can work together to build and maintain their knowledge base. 
  • Customer support: Your support team can access key information about your products and services to deliver better customer support with internal customer service
  • Employee onboarding: An internal knowledge base acts as a valuable onboarding platform for new hires. 
  • Project management: With an internal knowledge base in place, project managers have all crucial information at their fingertips that helps them execute projects successfully. 
  • Innovation hub: An internal knowledge base can be used as a creative hub where employees come together to share their unique ideas and insights. 

Being a super flexible platform, an internal knowledge base can be molded to serve different business needs.

How to Create an Internal Knowledge Base

Let’s now dive a little deeper and unpack the key steps to build a knowledge base. These steps, if implemented sincerely, can get your knowledge base off the ground successfully. 

Determine Your Goals 

You should be crystal clear about the goals you intend to achieve by the end of this process. A strong purpose will drive your efforts in the right direction, ensuring the final output is satisfying and at par with your expectations. 

To come up with the right goals, you need to do some homework. 

Evaluate how your company shares and manages knowledge. Talk to employees regarding the knowledge gaps they experience when working on tasks. Ask them about the platforms they use to access knowledge and what impact it has on their productivity. 

Run a survey with new hires, asking them about their onboarding experience and the time it took for them to get up to speed with their new roles. 

A solid groundwork will give you enough information to identify the areas that really need your attention. Basis the information captured, determine the goals that a knowledge base will help you achieve, such as: 

  • Fostering a culture of knowledge sharing in the workplace
  • Improving the employee onboarding process
  • Reducing knowledge gaps and barriers
  • Reducing employees’ dependence on traditional platforms like emails and Google Drive

Once you are ready with your goals, the next step is to set up a solid team for your knowledge base. 

Build a Strong Team

Creating an internal knowledge base is a lengthy process that can’t be carried out by a single person. 

You need a full-fledged team to work on your knowledge base from start to finish. This team will be responsible for the accuracy and relevance of every piece of information going on your platform. 

The responsibilities of researching, writing, reviewing, and managing the content will be divided among team members based on the skills and experiences they bring to the table. 

When you bring a solid team together on board, they can work in collaboration to produce the best quality content for your knowledge base. 

Modern knowledge base tools allow you to add users and groups and assign each of them a unique role, such as – contributor, editor, and administrator. These pre-defined roles define the boundaries for each team member and let them work seamlessly without any kind of conflict.

Watch this video to learn how team roles and permissions work. 

Set Content Guidelines 

Setting content guidelines is a good way to ensure everything that goes into your knowledge base meets a few basic standards and is up to par with your company’s expectations. 

The guidelines can be around the structure and design of the content strategy, categories to be included in your knowledge base, and the overall layout of the platform. 

On these lines, let’s look at some of the key content guidelines you can adopt for your knowledge base: 

  • Use a suitable template when creating a knowledge base 
  • Include a home page and table of contents for easy navigation
  • Use font style and size that’s easy to read and understand
  • Keep the theme and layout consistent across your knowledge base
  • Keep a maximum of 5 sub-sections in each category
  • Keep the headings short and to the point
  • Use images, videos, and GIFs to make your content visually appealing

These guidelines will put your team on the right track, allowing them to keep your knowledge base content in proper shape. 

Read More: Internal Documentation: How to Create, Tips & Examples

Run Regular Article Reviews 

An internal knowledge base speaks volumes about your organization – its culture, people, and work dynamics. 

In that case, you cannot afford to publish content with even the slightest of errors. Any error – grammatical or factual – on your part can affect the quality of your knowledge base and negatively impact employees’ perception of your brand

Moreover, errors in the content can make employees choose the wrong route when working on tasks or processes, leading to negative outcomes and delayed deliverables. 

A strict review process is, therefore, paramount. 

Most of the knowledge management tools help you set up a review workflow process wherein writers and editors can set the status for articles and keep everyone in the team on top of their development. 

For example, an article’s status can be kept as – Draft, In Progress, Ready for Review, and Published, depending on its stage.  A custom status can also be created if the article doesn’t fit in any of the pre-defined status categories.

This is a foolproof way to ensure that every article going for publication is vetted carefully by experts for maximum accuracy and zero errors.

Launch Your Knowledge Base 

As articles are reviewed, they can be sent out for publication. 

You can launch your knowledge base across the web and mobile devices so that employees can access it at their convenience. 

Moreover, you can also make your knowledge base available for download as a PDF or ebook. This means employees can go through the content even when they are offline. 

Measure & Improve Performance 

It’s natural for your knowledge base to get obsolete if you don’t improve and update it from time to time. 

With all the developments taking place in your company and the changing employee questions, it’s crucial for you to continuously replenish your knowledge base with new information. 

However, before you jump into the improvement process, it’s necessary to track certain metrics to ensure you make the right moves. 

The best knowledge management tools out there come with a built-in reporting system that helps you keep a close eye on metrics such as: 

  • Poor-performing articles
  • Failed searches
  • Most read articles
  • Broken links, and much more. 

Measuring these metrics can give you thought-provoking insights into existing knowledge gaps and areas of improvement. This will enable you to make data-backed decisions about the topics to be added to your knowledge base, content to be deleted, and articles to be updated.

How to Choose the Best Internal Knowledge Base Software

The market is loaded with knowledge base tools, each trying to win customers by showcasing its best features and functions. 

However, not every tool is right for every business. You need to pick the software that fits well with your unique requirements. This process can be both daunting and time-consuming, which is why we have collated a list of the top features you should look for when scouting for the best knowledge base software

  • Rich content authoring – The tool should comprise of an online editor that enables you to write, edit, and design the content. 
  • Ready-to-use templates – Pre-designed knowledge base templates give a good headstart to the entire process and help you build your knowledge base quickly. 
  • Access rights & permissions – This feature lets you assign roles and permissions to users and groups and exercise full control over their activities. 
  • Built-in reports – Actionable reports help you uncover critical insights into your knowledge base performance and make informed decisions for continuous improvement. 
  • Advanced searchability – The tool should offer a powerful Google-like search system that delivers relevant article and page suggestions at lightning-fast speed. 
  • Security – Features like single sign-on and two-factor authentication ensure your document’s security. 
  • Third-party integrations – The tool should play nicely with software like Slack, Jira, Google Analytics, Disqus, and the like. 

5 Pragmatic Best Practices to Maximize Knowledge Base Performance 

Let’s now quickly unpack some of the top internal knowledge base best practices that will ensure an immersive learning experience for your employees. 

Build a Logical Structure 

Your internal company knowledge base should have a solid structure that lets employees navigate to the desired page in a matter of a few clicks. 

You should aim to build a hierarchy that flows logically from the most basic to the most advanced topics or from the most important to the least important topics. 

Create a beautiful home page that lists down the key topics of your knowledge base. A table of contents on the left with articles arranged in relevant categories is also a good way to ensure employees get what they need quickly. 

Keep Simplicity at the Heart of Everything 

Simplicity is not that simple to achieve. You need to carefully choose the right words to explain your company’s policies and work processes to employees. Anything too complex can instantly wane readers’ interest in using your knowledge base. 

Simplicity is not limited to the choice of words. It’s also about the length of your headlines and paragraphs, the amount of breathing space in each article, and how easy it is for employees to consume the information you provide. 

The more simple and straightforward the experience, the faster your employees will grasp all that’s there in your knowledge base. 

Gather Feedback 

Feedback opens the door to multiple opportunities for improving your knowledge base performance. 

Since employees are the ones who will be ultimately using your knowledge base, they can provide unparalleled insights into what’s working well and what can be improved. 

The practice of continuously collecting feedback will help you discover essential topics that should be covered and issues that should be addressed. 

Now, the question is how to collect feedback. 

With a knowledge base tool like ProProfs, you can add feedback forms and surveys to let employees give feedback on every article they read. 

Here’s a quick video that will guide you on how to add feedback forms to your knowledge base.

Make the Most of Visuals

The right use of visuals can make your knowledge base so much more interesting. 

In fact, using visual imagery is a great way to demonstrate processes and help employees grasp information faster. 

When written text is supported by relevant images and videos, it leaves a lasting impact on readers and helps them understand even complicated concepts with absolute ease. 

By default, visuals are more memorable and help improve the information processing speed, and retention power of employees, which is why using them in your knowledge base can prove incredibly useful. 

Customize Your Knowledge Base

An internal knowledge base is a platform that’s extensively used by employees for learning and problem-solving. 

It’s, therefore, vital to tailor this portal to reflect your company’s branding. Moreover, customization will give your knowledge base an attractive look and feel, encouraging more and more employees to use it during work. 

So, how do you start with customization? 

For starters, you need to be careful of the fonts, themes, and designs you use in your knowledge base. If gone wrong, they can negatively impact the aesthetic appeal of the platform. A safe way out would be to keep things minimal and brand-aligned. 

You can also use CSS to modify the layout of your knowledge base and set up a custom domain that adds to its authenticity.

Best Internal Knowledge Base Software in 2024

Let’s now look at the top 7 internal knowledge base software that will help you put together a stunning self-help platform for your employees.

ProProfs Knowledge Base

ProProfs Knowledge Base is a simple tool with a modern, user-friendly interface that lets you create a knowledge base, employee handbooks, and documentation for your employees. 

The tool’s advanced access control system lets you set roles and permissions for all users, so they can work collaboratively under a single roof without stepping into each other’s shoes. You also get powerful security features like single sign-on and two-factor authentication that ensure your company knowledge base remains in safe hands.

Confluence

best Internal Knowledge Base softwares

Confluence equips you with a remote-friendly team workspace that facilitates knowledge management, project management, and cross-team collaboration. Whether it’s sales, marketing, or product development, the tool offers a range of templates to set you off on the right path. 

Everything in Confluence can be organized in pages and spaces. Your teams can edit documents together in real-time, get quick notifications, and even post comments on articles.

Notion

create a Internal Knowledge Base with notion

Notion is another internal knowledge base software that brings all your docs and projects in a unified space. 

The tool offers a bunch of interesting features that let you create collapsible sections in your knowledge base, embed Loom and YouTube videos, and drive real-time collaboration between teams. 

Notion offers both desktop and mobile apps, which means employees can access your knowledge base on the go from a platform of their choice.

Zendesk

how to create internal knowledge base

Zendesk is a popular tool that helps you build a smart knowledge base for your employees. You can use the tool’s powerful features, like web widgets and mobile SDK, to deliver an in-context self-service experience to employees. 

Using customizable themes, you get complete freedom to design your knowledge base just the way you want. If you have your workforce spread across the globe, you can localize the content in the language your employees speak.

Help Scout

internal knowledge base guide

Help Scout is another knowledge base software that deserves to be on this list. It is a robust tool for creating engaging self-help articles that are a stellar combination of written text, images, videos, and hyperlinks. 

What’s interesting about Help Scout is that it helps you provide easy outreach options right inside the knowledge base. This means, if needed, employees can instantly connect with your internal support team via chat or email to get their questions answered.

Nuclino

Internal knowledge management system

Nuclino is your team’s collective brain. It drives collaboration between employees by giving them a centralized space to manage projects and documents. Your teams can edit content in real time and keep a track of all changes made to your knowledge base. 

The best part about Nuclino is that it enables you to pick a visual view for your workflows. You can choose the list, board, graph, or table view to visualize your team’s work.

Zoho

Internal knowledge management system software

Zoho’s knowledge base software is an easily configurable platform that doesn’t require coding experience to get started. Using HTML and CSS, you can customize your knowledge base to match your company’s branding. 

You can also set up a custom domain for your knowledge base so that it comes across as your brand’s true extension. For fostering collaboration and communication among employees, Zoho enables you to build forums and communities for sharing ideas and insights. 

Improve Productivity & Performance With an Internal Knowledge Base

Centrally managing your strategic knowledge assets – subject matter expertise, intellectual property, and the knowledge of your key employees, is more important than ever before. 

Look around. Information is freely floating around your organization, waiting to be managed and utilized. 

It’s this mission-critical knowledge that can keep your employees closer to one another and align their efforts with the vision of your brand. 

An internal knowledge base offers the best and easiest way to achieve effective knowledge management, employee collaboration, and a culture of knowledge sharing across your organization. 

The process of creating a knowledge base is simple. Start by determining your goals, building a team, and setting solid content guidelines. The rest of the process involves content creation, management, and publication. 

With a powerful tool like ProProfs Knowledge Base, you can implement these steps and roll out your knowledge base in minutes.

Frequently Asked Questions

What difficulties can the absence of an internal knowledge base cause employees? 

Without an internal knowledge base, employees have to spend unnecessary time and energy searching for the information they need. This negatively affects their productivity, efficiency, and creativity in the workplace. 

How much does it cost to create an internal knowledge base? 

The cost depends on the software you have subscribed to. Most knowledge base tools offer plans, the price of which varies depending on the features provided in each plan. 

What should be included in an internal knowledge base? 

An internal knowledge base includes essential company information such as vision and mission, work policies, code of conduct, standard operating procedures, training materials, and much more. 

How do I maintain an internal knowledge base? 

You can maintain an internal knowledge base by tracking metrics such as failed and successful searches, broken links, poor-performing articles, etc. Measuring these metrics will bring to spotlight areas in your knowledge base that need improvement and articles that need to be updated. 

What is the difference between an internal and external knowledge base? 

An internal knowledge base is designed for your employees – to equip them with useful company information at their fingertips, so they can work more productively. 

On the contrary, an external knowledge base is meant to help customers self-solve problems and streamline your support process. 

Is it possible to measure how employees are using an internal knowledge base? 

Absolutely yes! Most knowledge base tools are equipped with a built-in reporting system that lets you closely monitor how employees consume your knowledge base. By tracking performance metrics, you can identify what your employees are searching for but not finding the answers to. 

How do you evaluate an internal knowledge base? 

An internal knowledge base can be evaluated by tracking metrics like poor-performing articles, failed searches, broken links, and other such metrics. Measuring these metrics will bring forth articles that need to be added, improved, or deleted. 

What makes a good internal knowledge base? 

A good internal knowledge base is a comprehensive platform covering all essential information employees need to work efficiently. It is well-structured and mobile-friendly, with a robust search function that serves up the most relevant information. 

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About the author

Bryan Wills is a seasoned expert in knowledge management with over a decade of experience in the field. His expertise extends across various domains, including Security & Compliance, User Management, Knowledge Management, Software Documentation, and Customer Support. His writings not only reflect his deep understanding of these subjects but also offer practical solutions and strategies to help organizations enhance their knowledge management processes. Bryan’s work has been published in GetFeedback, CustomerThink, and Apruve.