SharePoint Knowledge Management: 5 Best Practices

Albert Einstein said “Information is not Knowledge” and this statement becomes more and more true as organizations grow in size.  All companies have access to information but without proper knowledge management, the data can’t contribute much to the success of the organization.  According to Microsoft, by 2016, 78% of the Fortune 500 companies use SharePoint to meet their content management needs and one in every five knowledge workers has access to SharePoint. 

In this article, we will talk about Microsoft’s web-based, collaborative document management and storage platform, SharePoint Knowledge Management System. With Knowledge Management gaining more and more momentum every single day, we have dedicated this piece of article to providing you everything you need to know about SharePoint Knowledge Management, the best practices, the pros and cons, and much more. So without further ado, let’s dive right in!

 

 

What exactly is Microsoft SharePoint?

Before we begin anything else, let’s first address the question about what is SharePoint. We are not going to bore you with the details of the history of SharePoint. We all have heard about Microsoft SharePoint at some point or another. Some of us may have also used the software. But let’s understand the primary objective of this software before we get into the core of this blog.

SharePoint is a cloud-based collaborative platform that has flawless integration with Microsoft Office 365 applications.  Primarily sold as a document management and storage system, SharePoint is highly configurable and can be used in a variety of ways in different organizations.  

SharePoint is used by countless companies for Intranets, team Sites, and Content Management. SharePoint is a website-based collaborative system that allows companies to use it to collect all its organizational knowledge in one platform, control access to that information, and automate workflow processes across the company.


5 Best Practices to use SharePoint as your Knowledge Base

If you are on a trial basis or relatively new to suing SharePoint, the following 5 practices are intended to make the onboarding curve easier for you.

  1. Use Tags:

    For 19 years since its initial launch in 2001, SharePoint has been widely used by companies to collect, develop, share, and manage organizational knowledge base.  Many organizations keep adding their organizational knowledge to SharePoint as it is a practical solution to save information for years, and due to the easy lookup feature of SharePoint, all of this data can be reused as and when needed. 

    But sometimes, the sheer amount of information makes it impossible to find the right data quickly. For your knowledge base in SharePoint, you can use metadata tags to label information and make the look-up time shorter. As you keep adding new information, the tags will ensure that everything is properly labeled, and organized.

  2. Collaborate, collaborate, and collaborate:

    SharePoint is not only a document repository but a collaborative platform that can be used in sharing tacit knowledge of the experts and specialists.  Instead of going with the back-and-forth process of collaborating on a document, employees can meet up virtually and add data, comments, or suggestions to any document they are working on. 

    Collaboration is quite essential for any organization to ensure the growth of not only the organization but its employees as well. You can set permissions on who can edit, view, or comment on any document, make it available to everyone in the organization, or share it only with specific people. With all of these functionalities, you have no reason to exclude collaboration in your company.

  3. Inculcate AAR:

    After Action Review (AAR), initially developed by the US Army is an easy process to execute in Microsoft SharePoint.  AARs are reviews done by experts on their actions and help employees make better decisions

    After the completion of a task or a document, experts give their feedback on what is done, why a particular action was taken over other steps, how a different approach can give a better result, etc.  From this tacit knowledge, employees can learn better and make more informed choices. You can have a common ground where anyone can ask questions, and those questions can be answered by the right people.

  4. Assign permissions:

    When you are using SharePoint, you will have all your employees from sales, marketing, development, HR team, etc. working from the knowledge base software. You don’t want the Sales team SOP to be accessible by the HR team and vice versa. So assigning permissions on each document is a very crucial thing to do.

    But if your company has more than 10 employees, and if a new member joins the marketing team, the last thing you want to do is add the person to every document related to marketing. This could take hours. It is worst hen someone quits the team. Instead, you can assign the permissions to a group, and then you need to add/remove only once, from the group.

  5. Information Architecture:

    The next tip for you while using SharePoint is to set up an information architecture for your site. A site’s information and navigation architecture determine how the site is set up- in pages, modules, documents, and much more. You can have a hierarchical list of site contents, keywords, tags, data types, etc.

    You want to address what is the primary goal that you want to achieve by using SharePoint Knowledge Base and, what types of articles you will include to meet those goals. After you have a clear idea of this, you will easily be able to determine the best layout for your SharePoint knowledge base.


Advantages of SharePoint Knowledge Management Solution

Advantages

Having discussed the best practices in SharePoint Knowledge Base software, the next thing you need to consider are the advantages and shortcomings of having a knowledge base on SharePoint. First, let’s look at the advantages of SharePoint as a Knowledge Base Software:

  1. Effortless Onboarding for Microsoft Users

    Almost 95% of your staff is likely to have used any of the applications in the Microsoft Office 365 Suite.  With the very high popularity of Microsoft Applications, you can use software for knowledge management from the same suite that your employees use for their day to day tasks.  This reduces onboarding efforts and the admin department does not have to keep track of a lot of passwords.

  2. One system for all your needs

    Another advantage of using a Microsoft Office 365 application is that Microsoft has various applications to meet all your organizational needs.  Microsoft Outlook is perfect to manage your calendar and emails, Word is perfect for writing any document, Excel can help you with managing your finances, and Powerpoint, Onenote, Access, Skype, etc.  can help keep all your activities streamlined into one suite that solves all your requirements.

    In addition to that, using SharePoint is multi-functional. You can use it as your organization’s knowledge repository, knowledge management solution, document management system, document collaboration platform, and much more. You can SharePoint to write business processes, for content classification and organization, knowledgebase platform, etc.

  3. SharePoint is your Organization’s Wikipedia

    Once you start using SharePoint knowledge management, you will realize that all your data is stored in one place.  With such high levels of organization of all knowledge looking up content is as simple as doing a wiki search.  Simply type a few terms in the search bar and all relevant content and documents can be found in a couple of seconds.  Anyone is able to add content and access the data of the knowledge base system.


Limitations of SharePoint Knowledge Management Solution

Limitations

  1. Limited Search Capabilities

    Even though Sharepoint Knowledge Management has a search feature, there are limitations associated with the search functionality. With SharePoint, your content isn’t indexed.  Search is limited to the site collection your user is searching on and you cannot filter the search results by any parameter other than the age of the content.  The search feature is good for looking up a small number of files with a broad query of parameters.  For larger sizes of data with advanced parameters, the search results are inefficient.  

  2. Unstructured Content

    The information structure of SharePoint is similar to Wikipedia’s information architecture: it isn’t organized and indexed in a user-friendly manner.  A large amount of unstructured content can be quite overwhelming for users.  The whole system can be rendered useless if your users find it too unstructured and avoid using the interface completely.  Ideally, your content should be well organized into appropriate topics so that it is easy to search for information, and the content classification and structuring in SharePoint needs a lot of footwork.

  3. Restricted Number of Users

    The lack of this feature can be a serious issue for organizations trying to make their knowledge base platform public.  Most of the self-serving knowledge-based platform should not require its users to login in order to look up some information.  This is a big hassle for your customers who do not want to spend more than a minute looking for the data. So if you want someone to look at the contents of your knowledge base, and that person does not happen to be a member of your organization, this won’t be an easy task.

    These are some of the advantages and disadvantages of SharePoint that in our opinion can affect its ability to be a knowledge management platform.  While SharePoint is just perfect for some users, it fails to meet the needs of others.

If your Knowledge Management solutions are intended for external use, like the Knowledge management platform of RStudio, then SharePoint might not be the best platform for your needs. On the other hand, you want a knowledge management system for your employees, and there is a lot of document collaboration going on, then SharePoint might be a good choice.


FAQs

SharePoint has a lot of good features but at the same time a lot of shortcomings which makes it difficult to see if it is the perfect KMS for your organization. Due to the hard navigation for the average customer, the overall cost and subscription seem a bit unjustified with the number of features as a Knowledge Management System. If your primary goal is document management, then using SharePoint to control your organizational knowledge is a good choice. But if your primary goal is to create a knowledge base, then all options including SharePoint should be considered before making a choice.
If you have been using Microsoft products like OneNote, Office365, Excel, and others, then it might be easy for you to learn and adjust with SharePoint as well. However, if you have been using any other products like Google Sheets, then it is a little too complicated to understand. It depends on how comfortable you are with Microsoft. But of course, nothing is too difficult if you set down to learn it and do it with concentration.
Although Microsoft used to provide a free, barebones version of the SharePoint knowledge management system, it no longer does that. It released SharePoint in 2016 with a number of pricing tiers and now there are only paid versions of the software available in the market.
Although there are many, some of the top open-source knowledge management software include Documize and phpMyFAQ. You can read up on more such software in this blog: Open Source Knowledge Base Software.

Conclusion

We hope that after reading this blog, you have gained more a more solid understanding of SharePoint and Knowledge Management solutions. With SharePoint document collaboration, and content classification is easy. You can work with others on creating perfect documents, and business processes are much more effortless. If you have any questions, please contact us, and we will be happy to hear from you.

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