A knowledge management system for a business is a system to gather, organize, store, process, apply, and distribute the organizational data, in such a way that it’s easy, and helps the growth of the organization.
A business needs to maintain a knowledge management system so that the information needed for customer support, as well as for employee training and work process, is safely stored in a central database and handy.
Moving ahead in the article, we will understand the features, roles, types, and application of a Knowledge Management System:
But before we dive deeper, the first thing to understand is what a knowledge Management system is exactly for:
What is a Knowledge Management System?
It is a storehouse of all the organizational knowledge.
The primary user groups associated with a knowledge management system are :
1) The Administrators & Contributors: Who will gather the knowledge and store it in the knowledge base. They can be the readers/users of the information too.
2) The Users: Who have complete or limited access to the data.
The role of Knowledge Management systems in business:
- To store the organizational knowledge
- To let the organization store, process, maintain, apply, and share the data.
- Provide access to the relevant users to the information they need, when they need it
A knowledge base helps you document the process, and keep it ready for future access.
Because an organization undergoes many changes and transformations over time, so helps you ascertain that any knowledge or processes are not completely lost.
Also, as commonly observed in businesses, some of the problems appear frequently and periodically. With the knowledge stored in a knowledge management system, uniformity can be maintained in how those problems are solved. It even eliminates the chances of making mistakes in the process.
For people outside organizations, these are the self-help documents that they can access anytime anywhere. And even as a self-service customer support system or client help, these documents can help with instant resolution.
Advanced Knowledge Management Systems
Modern knowledge management system software is designed not just to capture, process, and store data, but they have advanced features that will come up with reports and suggestions.
So one of the main roles of a Knowledge Management system is reporting.
Since it stores a large amount of data, the pattern of what data is frequently needed, who uses the data, and what are the most common queries and many more conclusions can be drawn through these systems.
They use advanced algorithms, historic as well as action data, and artificial intelligence to draw reports that can help make strategic decisions and improve the customer service for your organization.
Types of Knowledge Management system
For an organization, there can be two types of knowledge management systems:
- An internal knowledge management system
- External knowledge base
The operations of both types of KMSs is the same, but their operational level is different. And the user group is different too. Also different, is the kind of data they store. However, they can store either organizational knowledge, or customer support information, or both,
Occasionally, you may also come across a comprehensive and well-planned knowledge management system that can be used internally as well as externally.
Internal knowledge management System
As the name suggests, this is knowledge management system is limited to the internal use of the organization or a company. It is an Enterprise-wide knowledge management system. The access is limited to certain people employed or connected with the company internally.
One of the following can be the aim of an Internal Knowledge base
- To help the employees find answers to their questions. The employees can find solutions that may help them perform their duties better.
- It even helps streamline the work processes so that a uniform procedure is followed for task achievement.
- It is also for the employees who support customers and people external to the organization, to create a wide range of FAQs and support documents for the common queries so that the customer support system is quick and efficient.
- Essential for inter-departmental processing of tasks so that harmony is maintained
- It can be used for training new employees and helping them understand the workflow
- It can be a central data store for all the information and knowledge important to the organization so that no process/data is lost or forgotten.
An Internal knowledge management system is maintained and used by the employees and has a limited scope. However, it will still need to be well organized and properly categorized as per the departments, so that the information can be easily accessed as and when required.
It is an enterprise-wide knowledge management system, which cannot be accessed by people outside the organization. And for the knowledge management system, that can be used by people outside the organization is the External knowledge management system.
An External Knowledge Base
The difference between an Internal as well as External knowledge base is obviously the scope and its accessibility. An external KMS is for creating Knowledge bases with advanced options to grant controlled access to even those outside the organization.
Such a knowledge management system is typically built for customer support or client help. It is clearly used by a larger group of people and needs to have a clear search and filtering system, as well as proper access management and user group management features.
An external knowledge base software is more complex than an internal one considering there can be more contributors and different levels of users with limited access to different parts of the knowledge base.
- To serve the customer/clients with the information they need at their fingertips
- For reducing the number of tickets/support requests
- To be able to quickly serve the clients with the required information when they ask for it
- Increasing customer satisfaction with proper documentation and guides that are accessible as and when required.
- To reduce the time taken for problem-solving for all the people inside as well as outside the organization.
An example of external knowledge management software can be the knowledge management applications that help you create documentation for software guides/tech support articles related to a product. The buyer of the software product will be granted access to the knowledge base that covers different help articles.
This is a simple classification of knowledge management systems based on the type of knowledge and the user access.
What is knowledge management software?
Knowledge Management system VS Knowledge Management software
Both the words can be used interchangeably for knowledge management technologies and applications.
We are looking at a tool that can be used to build a knowledge base and manage the data and access control. It is a knowledge management solution.
The knowledge management system or the knowledge management software tool will come with a user interface that lets you create the documents/videos, and store and organize them, and a front end where all the stored information is provided when searched for it.
The following are some of the features of a Knowledge Management System:
- The ability to create and store the data in the most user-friendly format
- Ability to manage the data, to update, modify and remove as and when required
- To create categories so that the stored data is properly organized
- Smart filter & search features to support keywords based KMS widget search
- User control where users can be added, managed, updated, removed.
- Access control where you can grant access or update access to the users
- Ability to grant access or restrict the data based on different levels of users
The best example of a Knowledge management system software is the WordPress help called https://codex.wordpress.org/ which is a well know help repository for everything WordPress. It is an official and completely free and open directory of articles for WordPress users and developers.
Knowledge management system example
There are several knowledge management technologies and applications that you can use to create a knowledge base solution.
Some of these are open-source knowledge management systems and most of them are SAAS platforms that let you use their platform to create and manage a knowledge base.
There are monthly plans or annual ones with different features that you can subscribe for easily and start creating a knowledge base right away.
Such platforms are specially created for business owners and organizations and come with inbuilt capabilities to create, manage, organize the content, with advanced search and filtering features, and analytics tools to give you important insights about the stored knowledge.
Check out this list of Top 10 knowledge management software that you can use to find Knowledge management software free and paid.
What makes a good knowledge management system?
A great knowledge management system ensures that the clients are satisfied and your employees can perform better. But how to ensure that the knowledge management system is actually great?
Well, a knowledge repository, with a lot of content, data, users, and contributors, needs to be well organized. There are high chances of data duplication, improper categorization, orphan content, and so on.
Therefore the following are some of the primary requirements for a great knowledge management system.
Clean & Beautiful Interface
An effective and smartly designed UI for the best UX is a knowledge management system requires. It includes both, the front end that the clients will work with, on an external KBS. It also includes the backend of where the contributors and editors will work so that the submissions are neat, error-free, and organized.
Powerful search features
The ultimate success of a knowledge management system lies in how quickly and easily you can support the user/employee looking for it.
All the stored knowledge and articles are useless until there is a proper search system that helps the users quickly get navigate to the page that serves their purpose. And that is where proper filtering and advanced search features are essential.
The only way you can keep the content of your knowledge management system organized is by creating proper categories. You can add the content, and ensure that they are tagged with the right keywords, and saved under the proper categories.
Proper categories will not only help you keep your content organized, but will also help the visitors to quickly find the resources very easily, helping the user experience and satisfaction.
How the information is presented matters too. You should choose a knowledgebase management system that comes with layout options and templates for the knowledge resources.
Choose a clean template that is good-looking and distraction-free. Or you can try different templates to find out what works the best for you and suits the concept of your business or organization.
Ease of access
A good knowledge management system will let you easily control the access. As an administrator, you should be able to grant different levels of access to the users based on their user role.
You will also need the ability to update and totally manage the access for different levels of users as and when they request.
What makes a great knowledge base is how well the content is interlinked. There are many tools that suggest the internal links to make sure that the readers always have another link to click and quick access to the data they might need.
Internal linking works great for websites, and it will work wonders for your knowledge base. A good knowledge management system should always have content that is properly internally linked. You must always monitor that there are no orphan pages on your KBS.
Ease of creating and managing the data
This is undoubtedly the most important requirement for a knowledge management system. A knowledge management system should let you easily create unlimited resource pages, save, update, edit and manage them through the dashboard options.
One thing primary to a knowledge management system is user management. There can be an undefined number of users, and there should be a great interface to create and manage the users.
Different users can have different access, and user roles, and adding, or removing users shouldn’t be a long complicated process for a great knowledge management solution or a customer support system.
There is no ideal template of what an ideal knowledge management system should be like. You can choose one based on the features you need, its scope, and its applications as well as pricing.
A proper knowledge base founded on a reliable knowledge management solution can be a turning point for your business organization and help you pacify the workflow and lead to success.