The Importance of Building a Knowledge Base

One of the most crucial components of a successful relationship with your outsource partner is to develop a comprehensive knowledge base of your procedures and systems.

Established companies with long track records have undoubtedly documented their procedures, but for younger or rapidly growing companies, there may not be enough time each day, or enough staff, to tackle this critical task.

If you find yourself in that position of not having any standardized processes and procedures, here are five steps to get you on track.

Step 1: Become aware of your systems: Save yourself time and frustration by putting good systems in place so that you follow-up on questions, tech support issues, customer support issues, and business inquiries the same way each time. Not only will this increase your professionalism, it will increase your productivity and be a solid start to building your knowledge base.

Step 2: Duplicatable tasks: Stop doing the same task over and over. Document the steps involved with that task. For processes you do on the computer, a simple approach to documenting the steps is to take screenshots or use a tool like to record what you’re doing step by step. From this point, you can build your knowledge base or training manual with supporting information.

Step 3: Same question, different day:  If you are routinely answering the same questions over and over, you are wasting time. Create a template email or FAQ sheet with the responses so you can answer questions efficiently with a standardized response. It’s also important to make your emails sound personal and not like you’re simply copying/pasting a reply. Add a personal touch by commenting on something that may be happening in their area. Or you can reply with “Hi Joe, it’s awesome to hear from you again.  I’m sorry you are having issues. Here is the best solution we have found.” From there, you can quickly copy and paste a standard response. When your outsource team responds quickly, your customers feel like they matter.

Step 4: Document as you train: When you bring on a new employee, train them by getting them to document and build a training manual of their responsibilities. Fresh instructions remain in their minds longer when documentation is involved.

Step 5: Work closely with your outsource partner: As you transfer knowledge to your outsource partner, help them fill in the gaps with a procedures manual. Your outsource partner should have more bandwidth than you. Individual team members and managers can then take a deeper dive into your systems and procedures. Having an “outside” perspective helps to catch gaps in the knowledge base. But involving your outsource partner in this documentation ensures that all of the steps are included.

Taking the time to develop a thorough knowledge base will ease the stress of transitioning some of your work to an outsource company. The better trained this team is, the more efficient, effective and empowered they will become. As Francis Bacon stated, “Knowledge is power.”

Micah Laughlin

Micah Laughlin is the founder of Canvas IT and a leader in technology management services, supporting organizations of all sizes and helping them to thrive in spite of IT challenges and organizational changes. His first-hand experience with Service Desk Outsourcing companies led him to create a better way of doing IT outsourcing, the way he’d want it done. Today his philosophy carries on at Canvas IT as he creates a custom solution for each client just the way they’d want it done. Micah’s service desk management philosophy has supported dozens of growing businesses, adding value to the IT services they provide. Prior to founding Canvas IT, Micah spent more than 24 years managing IT operations – with 18 spent balancing the need for open, flexible systems with the restrictions of the highly-regulated healthcare industry.

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