Top tips from our webinar: how to build a Knowledge Base

26 Nov 2020 5 min read

In our first webinar, we tackled the subject of "How to build your Knowledge Base" and shared tips, tricks, and a quick demo on how you can do it in XWiki. Below you can watch the recordings of the webinar and some key takeaways to have in mind. 

Key takeaways for the first part - the what, how and why

A knowledge base can become the foundation upon which your organization grows and evolves. It not only curates accumulated knowledge by centralizing it but also eliminates repetitive tasks and reduces redundant effort. All in all, a knowledge base can help retain knowledge when key employees leave, ease onboarding for new employees, boost productivity, and enable better collaboration. It has many benefits, but it also requires a lot of time, team-effort, and real work to get right.

A well written and managed knowledge base can become the cornerstone of your customer service strategy. It is both fast and cost-effective because it allows customers to learn on their own terms and at their own pace. Customers can go in as deep as they wish into any topic of interest, meaning they get more out of your company's products or services than they would have just through a contact person. 

Benefits for employees:

  1. A knowledge hub can help your entire team, from new employees to veterans. It speeds up onboarding and improves efficiency, meaning less time is spent searching for information and more on accomplishing meaningful work.
  2. Sometimes, your employees will hit a wall and won’t know how to resolve a certain task. Being able to scour past documents for a solution makes it easier for them to overcome it. You shouldn't spend time reinventing the wheel when you can just build something new.
  3. A strong knowledge base can cement a better communication flow by filling in knowledge gaps. Communication hiccups are eliminated, which allows departments to stay “on the same page” by having access to each other's data.
  4. The more your company grows and evolves, the harder to keep track of knowledge. A dedicated space where valuable information can be shared enables a collaborative working environment and encourages employees to learn from each other, helping cooperation flourish.

Benefits for customers:

  1. Nowadays, most customers prefer self-service before reaching out for help to someone officially, making a knowledge base the perfect place to point them to.
  2. A knowledge base is available 24/7. This means fewer tickets submitted or time spent waiting for an answer, which increases customer satisfaction and allows your support team to handle other, more complex requests.
  3. A knowledge base adapts to many learning styles because the information is available as text, images, videos, or even audio, meaning each customer can absorb it at their own pace.
  4. Sometimes, customers might be looking for information regarding special use cases. A knowledge base allows searching and pinpointing exactly what they need in a short time and with minimal effort.

Q&A part 1

Q1: I have users that would need to access my knowledge base from multiple countries. How can I make it multilingual?

Yes, you can - we have translations in 42 languages. You can learn how to do it in this quick tutorial.

Q2: Could Sharepoint be considered as a Knowledge Base? Internal?

Yes, of course.

Q3: Is there a method to follow for creating a "good" structure of the information?

There is no successful recipe because it depends on your specific needs and way of working. However, we can suggest the following:

1. Analyse & Research

- Know which content will go in the knowledge base

- Start with a small structure

- The solution should adapt to future evolutions

2. Structure & Tailor

- Think about the features that you will need to browse your content

- Structured data prevents the writer’s block

3. Review

- Make sure that users adopt the platform and want to use it

- Verify that your structure works, adapt it if needed

Q4: Is there any particular XWiki extension ready to help with the creation of a knowledge base?

Not at the moment, but we have plans for it.

Key takeaways for the second part - the demo

  1. Having a tool that adapts to your needs is the most important criteria. Your organization and the teams within will continue to grow and evolve in different ways and those changes should be reflected in your knowledge base. With XWiki, you can extend your knowledge base with extensions, popular applications, or applications created specifically to your processes.
  2. Make sure your knowledge base is easy to navigate and use so that whoever browses it is able to find what they need with minimal effort on their part. Add extensions to facilitate integration with other apps, to enhance usability and feedback sharing. After all, it will be created for people, why not give them the chance to improve it?
  3. It's important to consider the process of transition to a competitor’s product. Think of this as a safety net. It is possible that after a while, you may want to move to another tool that fits your needs better. XWiki comes with no vendor lock-in and with reliable import/export options.

Q&A part 2

Q1: I'd like to create a procedures knowledge base on my wiki in the shape of a FAQ, how is this possible in XWiki?

We have an extension of XWiki dedicated to this, called XWiki Procedures

Q2: Is there a way to manage the way users contribute? Like a workflow?

Yes, we have developed a Publication Workflow integration that can be used as-is or customized to your needs.

Q3: I’m building an external knowledge base to provide information to clients. Is there a way to monitor what pages of our wiki are frequently visited by our clients? Right now I depend on their oral feedback, which I rarely get.

Yes, you can monitor by integrating third-party apps, such as Matomo (formerly known as Piwik) or Google Analytics.

Q4: Is there any particular XWiki extension ready to help with the creation of a knowledge base?

There are multiple, depending on your needs. Some of the most commonly used extensions in knowledge bases are App Within Minutes, Publication Workflow, PDF Macro, File Manager, Livetables, Blog, Ideas, Macros, and Office Integration. You can explore more of our features here.

Q5: Extensions are developed by XWiki developers? or is it community development? If it's community development, are these extensions supported in an enterprise environment?

We have 3 types of extensions in the XWiki ecosystem:

1. the community extensions build by the community and supported by it;

2. the recommended extensions build by the community and supported by the XWiki developers;

3. the Pro extensions that are developed and supported by the XWiki SAS team. 

Depending on your XWiki SAS Support Package, the team could offer support for some of the community extensions, in order to match your technical needs.

Q6: How do you manage files in XWiki? Can we do drag&drop? And also how are they secured? Are they anonymized with rights on the access?

By default in XWiki, you attach the files to the page. This way it's indexed in SOLR search and you can quickly find the attachment/file from anywhere in the wiki. With the File Manager extension, you can create a directory to structure your documents - similar to folders. You can drag & drop files in pages, they will be uploaded and added to your attachments list of the page. 

Even for attachments, we have a history of the editors of a file, so you can know at any time who edited it, when, and what is the first or last version of it. Of course, you can delimit access to different pages from the access rights configuration. 

If you're looking for something more anonymized we recommend our other tool, CryptPad - a zero-knowledge collaboration tool.

Q7: Can the search engine give results on images/screenshots that are on a page (using OCR)?

We are trying to do this with the Tesseract OCR App

Q8: Can XWiki also be used as a personal knowledge 'vault'?

You can, but it wouldn't be the best solution for that. Maybe consider CryptPad emoticon_wink

Q9: How could you ensure the 'truthfulness' of information in a wiki when you have a big organization with a lot of members? So is there a system to see who wrote what etc, or a way to include discussions / different opinions?

With history, comments, annotations, and workflow to validate documents.

Q10: Is there an API that can be used to create a page or fill in any information? For the meeting example, with Outlook creating the meeting page with all the people in it.

Yes, with Rest API. You can also create your own API using scripting.

Q11: Using App Within Minutes, can we build a form that generates and send an email once submitted?

Yes, you can build a form with App Within Minutes, but you need custom scripting work for the email to be sent. For now, you can share a page by email or use email sending.

If you need help from our team with custom work we offer consulting or development.

Q12: Using App Within Minutes, could we (how) update an external DB (PostGres, MongoDB, etc)?

Not with App Within Minutes but with scripting. We did it with ElasticSearch to update and there is an extension for it.

Q13: Can a knowledge base database be modified, once the structure was designed at a late stage as long as no existing field is been deleted but more fields are added?

Yes, with the App Within Minutes application you can edit the application you created, at any time. 

Q14: For SaaS solutions, do you provide health status (RSS, a webpage with XWiki services status, etc.)

It's on our "to do soon" list.

That is a wrap on our webinar on "How to build a Knowledge Base". If you have any other questions and like to contact Clement, our speaker and knowledge bases expert, you’ll find him at: clement.aubin@xwiki.com

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