Knowledge Sharing Tools & Best Practices

Learn how to build a culture of knowledge sharing in your organization and break through knowledge silos.

In today's fast-paced, information-intensive world, knowledge has become the new most sought-after commodity. Experienced employees at most companies hold a wealth of information, whether it's industry know-how, best practices, or customer knowledge, yet knowledge sharing often doesn't come naturally.

On the contrary, in many cases, employees in possession of critical knowledge will often protect and hide it believing that it gives them a competitive advantage. Knowledge hoarding has thus become a silent problem in many companies.

And when your employees struggle to access the information they need to perform their jobs, your company’s bottom line suffers. According to some studies, businesses lose up to $31.5 billion a year from failing to share knowledge.

Benefits of knowledge sharing in organizations

Simply put, knowledge sharing is the exchange of valuable information between the employees of an organization. It's a fundamental part of every company's knowledge management efforts.

Knowledge sharing can happen in the form of employee handbooks, manuals, mentoring sessions, and even informal discussions between workers.

Studies have found that knowledge sharing leads to greater creativity, more innovation, improved collaboration, and better performance, for individuals, teams, and organizations. There are many reasons why companies would want to encourage it.

Knowledge sharing prevents the "brain drain"

Your long-time employees have accumulated a lot of valuable know-how over the years. Unless they document or share that knowledge with other employees, they will take it with them when they leave. Making up for that knowledge loss is not cheap either. It has been estimated that it costs more than $30,000 to replace a member of staff, resulting from the loss of productivity in the 28 weeks it takes to bring a new recruit up to speed.

Employees are better equipped to do their jobs

In 2012, McKinsey reported that on average, “employees spend 9.3 hours per week searching and gathering information”. And wasted time is just part of the problem. When knowledge is not shared, decisions take longer, the same mistakes are made over and over again, work gets duplicated, and the overall quality of work suffers. When employees have access to the information they need, when they need it, they get things done faster.

New hires ramp up productivity faster

When a new employee joins a team, there is an overwhelming amount of things they need to learn: the tools, the workflows, the company culture. Knowledge sharing between new and experienced employees helps them get up to speed and learn the ropes sooner.

Best knowledge sharing tools

Establishing a knowledge-sharing culture in your organization is not an easy task that can't be solved by technology alone. But choosing the right knowledge sharing tool is an important first step.

If the tool you choose turns out to be slow, complex, or buggy, it's going to be a lot more difficult to encourage your team to use it. On the other hand, if the tool is intuitive and fun to use, knowledge sharing can turn from a chore into a pleasant, rewarding activity.

There are many options to choose from – we've put together a list to help you narrow down your options.

1. Nuclino

Best knowledge sharing tool Nuclino

Sharing knowledge through an intranet portal (Nuclino)

If you are looking for a user-friendly, collaborative, and lightweight knowledge sharing tool with no needless bells and whistles, Nuclino is a great option. It focuses on essential features and offers a clean, intuitive interface. It can be easily set up even by non-technical users.

While Nuclino can be used exclusively for sharing knowledge, it's designed as a unified workspace for all your team's knowledge, docs, and projects. In addition to creating an internal knowledge base, teams can use Nuclino to share and collaborate on documents, organize process documentation, onboard new employees, take meeting minutes, and more. It works like a collective brain, allowing you to bring all your team's work together in one place and collaborate without the chaos of files and folders, context switching, or silos.

Knowledge sharing and project management tool Nuclino

2. Confluence

Knowledge sharing tool Confluence

Atlassian Confluence is a mature, reliable solution, trusted by more than 60,000 customers worldwide. It's a part of the Atlassian product suite and can serve as a great knowledge sharing tool for teams already using other Atlassian products, such as Jira and BitBucket.

While originally designed as a software documentation tool for developers and product managers, Confluence can be successfully used to share knowledge within any team. It's highly customizable and offers extensive formatting options and advanced permission management.

Looking for more tools similar to Confluence? Check out this list of Confluence alternatives.

3. Loom

Knowledge sharing tool Loom

Loom is a unique tool. While most traditional knowledge sharing tools are built around documents, Loom allows you to share information using videos and screen recordings.

With Loom, you can record video messages and share them with your team, so they can watch them when they are ready. Along with a video of yourself, you can record your screen, add notes and highlights, and share your message in context. It's great for presentations, team updates, tutorials, and much more.

You can use Loom in combination with the other knowledge sharing tools on this list, such as Nuclino, by embedding the videos inside the shared documents and keeping them organized.

4. Papyrs

Knowledge sharing tool Papyrs

Papyrs is an intranet-style knowledge sharing tool. The feature set of Papyrs is fairly broad and includes everything you might need to set up your knowledge base, including a drag-and-drop page editor, powerful search, version history, user permissions, comments, and more. These powerful features come with a relatively user-friendly interface, making it easy to onboard your team.

Note that the pricing model of Papyrs may not be well-suited for smaller companies. Its cheapest plan starts at $89 per month, which makes it a considerably more expensive option if you are a team of 5-15. Large companies, however, can take advantage of the "Company Intranet" plan that charges a flat $899 fee per month, regardless of how many users you want to share knowledge with.

5. SharePoint

Knowledge sharing tool SharePoint

SharePoint has been around for over 20 years and has over 190 million users worldwide. It is by far the oldest and most widely used knowledge sharing tool on this list.

Like Papyrs, SharePoint is primarily an intranet platform. In terms of pure feature count, it's one of the most powerful options you can find. But that doesn't necessarily mean that it's the best choice. It can be a great knowledge sharing solution for large enterprises and teams that are used to Microsoft products. Smaller teams, on the other hand, may struggle with its complexity and somewhat dated design.

Looking for more tools similar to SharePoint? Check out this list of SharePoint alternatives.

Best practices for knowledge sharing

As mentioned above, technology alone is not enough to make knowledge sharing an integral part of your company culture. “If you build it, they will come” is rarely how it goes with corporate knowledge bases. It needs to be a continuous process that requires discipline and commitment from your entire team.

Fortunately, there are several effective measures you can take to motivate your colleagues:

Keep your knowledge base is up-to-date

Your team will be a lot more likely to engage with your knowledge management system if it makes their day-to-day jobs easier. If you are introducing a new knowledge base, make sure that the information it contains is helpful, up-to-date, and easy to retrieve.

Make knowledge sharing a part of the onboarding process

To make knowledge sharing a core part of your company culture, start with your new hires. Introduce them to your knowledge base and show them how to update it. Pair them with a mentor they can turn to with questions. Allow them to shadow someone in a similar position and let them learn through observation.

Embrace asynchronous communication

Knowledge silos exist because in most companies information is mainly exchanged in meetings, without getting documented. Communicating asynchronously through thoughtful long-worm write-ups automatically creates internal documentation and adds to your team knowledge base, increasing clarity and transparency and benefiting everyone, including your future employees.

Provide incentives

Before knowledge sharing turns into a habit, motivating your team may require some effort. Make it a team KPI and come up with appropriate rewards for the most active contributors to your team knowledge base.

Pay attention to feedback

Cultural shifts don't happen overnight and it may be difficult to get it right the first time. Make sure to monitor your team and identify potential areas of improvement. Are there repetitive questions that could be documented in the knowledge base? Is the content kept up-to-date? Are new hires struggling to find the information they need? Use your team's input to continuously iterate on your knowledge sharing workflows, making your employees feel included, valued, and heard.

Nuclino: Your team's collective brain

Nuclino

Nuclino brings all your team's knowledge, docs, and projects together in one place. It's a modern, simple, and blazingly fast way to collaborate, without the chaos of files and folders, context switching, or silos.

Try it now

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