In a world where most information is a Google search away, both employees and customers expect companies to make much-needed facts just as readily available. But while it’s easy to share bite-sized pieces of knowledge on platforms like social media or email, information that’s scattered across channels isn’t always easy to find.
For project managers who want to keep team members and clients in the loop, a knowledge base can be the most effective solution for this problem. In addition, it can be a great tool for collaboration and communication. Here’s what you need to know about what a knowledge base is and how you can reap its benefits for project management.
What Is a Knowledge Base?
A knowledge base is a centralized collection of information about a specific topic. It’s a searchable digital library that commonly answers frequently asked questions, provides definitions, and outlines instructions for important processes.
Most businesses use knowledge bases to share information with customers about their products or services, or to provide internal resources for employees (especially new hires). For example, your knowledge base can tell customers how to link their bank accounts or tell workers how to submit their time off requests. This allows your stakeholders to help themselves, so your business can run more efficiently. Plus, managers and customer service representatives will be less overwhelmed.
A knowledge base can also add a level of convenience to any that uses it. Instead of waiting for answers, users can get the information they need and read through it on their own time.
How Knowledge Bases Can Improve Project Management
Knowledge bases can be applied to project management, too. When you’re overseeing a project, a knowledge base can act as a hub for all the information you want to share with your clients and the members of your project team — from your project scope to your progress on every task. Here are three beneficial results you can achieve when you develop a knowledge base for all your project management needs.
Organizational silos happen when people are categorized into distinct groups, each with their own skills and objectives. This can stifle collaboration and hurt the customer experience. To combat these negative effects, project managers must connect diverse team members and departments by using tools that make real-time knowledge sharing possible.
Building a knowledge base is a great way to share information with everyone involved in a project and increase efficiency on your team. Instead of working toward different goals — or working toward the same goals separately — your employees can collaborate at any point during a project’s progress. For example, instead of waiting until a finalized copy to create a design for a marketing campaign, graphic designers can hop on their own portion of the project at any point.
By breaking down knowledge silos, you can avoid unnecessary delays in your project that can occur when certain team members need to go back to the drawing board. In turn, your project team can focus on improving the customer experience together instead of focusing on individual goals.
Enhance Project Visibility
Project visibility occurs when your project team members have a strong understanding of the progress of your project, including what resources you’ve used and what tasks are falling behind. Clear project visibility allows project managers to keep their team members accountable and reduce project risks, all while keeping everyone on the same page — even if changes are made to the project scope.
Knowledge bases — especially when used in conjunction with technology like time tracking tools and screen recording software — can be updated, referenced, and utilized by teams in real-time. For example, in construction projects, you can create a library of status reports or inventory updates to improve overall team awareness. This level of visibility can be particularly useful for teams that are located across many different locations.
The transparency that knowledge bases create can also improve your relationship with clients. Instead of leaving clients in the dark, you can invite them to see what’s going on with your project at any given time.
A third way you can benefit from a knowledge base is by improving consistency across your team. When you document the right steps for different processes, you can standardize status reports, create communication guidelines (like when to make calls), and much more.
This consistency can lead to two key results. First, you can improve the customer experience by ensuring every interaction with your team is aligned with and just as high-quality as the next. Second, you can ensure your projects always cross the finish line on time. Your team members can follow recorded processes that are as effective and simplified as possible. If you find new ways to improve processes, all you need to do is update your knowledge base to continuously perfect your team’s output.
Developing Your Knowledge Base Over Time
Once project managers build a well-structured knowledge base, it’s important to continue perfecting it over time.
As you roll out this library of information, you may notice recurring roadblocks that team members run into or common questions that your clients continue to have. Take the time to fill in these gaps, eliminate any confusing wording, and add any new processes you may have.
Another way you can improve our knowledge base is by adding more multimedia. While your documentation will primarily include text at the start, you can consider where it might be helpful to add visuals like screenshots or screen recordings. The more you can improve visibility, transparency, and knowledge sharing, the better equipped your team will be to produce high-quality results and improve the customer experience.
Reap the Benefits of Knowledge Bases
The concept of a knowledge base may be intimidating to some project managers. However, you don’t have to complete a massive library of project information right off the bat. Start by logging the most important information about your project first — like your timeline, budget, and goals — before you expand on it. Then, you can recruit members of your project team to document processes and other information that fall under their expertise, so your knowledge base quickly grows.