Creating an Internal Knowledge Base: Tips & Benefits

Break through knowledge silos and establish a culture of knowledge sharing in your organization.

Self-service knowledge bases, help centers, and FAQ sections for customers are commonplace. No one questions the importance of educating users about your product — it increases customer satisfaction, reduces customer support effort, and has a direct impact on the bottom line.

But what many companies don't realize is that creating an internal knowledge base for their own teams is just as important. Many tasks require information that the employees may not necessarily have memorized. They have to search for it, digging through old emails, shared folders, and disconnected docs. And if they don't find what they are looking for, they have to resort to shoulder taps and Slack messages, interrupting their colleagues' work.

This can be incredibly time-consuming. According to studies, an average employee spends 9.3 hours per week trying to find the information they need to do their job. But it doesn't have to be this way. Let's dive deeper into how an internal knowledge base can help your team stay informed and productive, without wasting time.

What is an internal knowledge base?

An internal knowledge base (also known as an internal knowledge management system) is a centralized knowledge repository created by a company for internal use. It's a shared space where your team can document, share, and organize all kinds of relevant content. It essentially works like an internal Wikipedia and allows your employees to easily find the information they need, when they need it.

An internal knowledge base can be created using a dedicated knowledge base software solution, but certain general-purpose tools can also work well. Here's an example of what such a knowledge base could look like in Nuclino, a lightweight collaboration and knowledge sharing tool for teams. Create an account to start building your own knowledge base.

Internal knowledge base Nuclino

A company knowledge base can contain a variety of content, including:

This is by no means an exhaustive list. An internal knowledge base is a great place for any information that is valuable and is likely to be referenced in the future.

The benefits of an internal knowledge base

Setting up an internal knowledge base will certainly require some effort. You will also need to set aside some time to maintain it and keep the information accurate and up-to-date.

But it's a worthwhile investment. It has been estimated that Fortune 500 companies lose roughly $31.5 billion a year by failing to share knowledge — a knowledge base can not only make it easier for your employees to do their jobs, but also cut your business costs in the long run.

Here are just some of the benefits of having an internal knowledge base:

Centralized information

As your company grows, it accumulates a wealth of knowledge. It can very easily scatter across email, Google Docs, folders, support tickets, Slack channels, and so on. The more dispersed it becomes, the harder it becomes to access it and find the information you need. Instead, all knowledge can be consolidated in your internal knowledge base – your team's single source of truth.

Improved team productivity

When employees don't share internal knowledge, they are likely to repeat each other's mistakes, try to "reinvent the wheel" when solving problems, and waste hours every week searching for the information they need. An internal knowledge base can boost their productivity and help them make faster, more informed decisions.

Faster new employee onboarding

Even when the new hire is an experienced professional, it may take them months to reach full productivity. Giving them access to all your internal company knowledge can help them get up to speed faster and minimize repetitive questions.

Internal knowledge base benefit faster employee onboarding

Onboarding checklist and welcome page for new hires (created in Nuclino)

Better knowledge retention

When an experienced employee leaves, they take their knowledge with them unless it's been documented. A company knowledge base can be a great tool for preventing knowledge loss and facilitating knowledge sharing, to the benefit of both existing and future employees.

Of course, simply having an internal knowledge base is not enough to reap these benefits. To create real value, it needs to be a part of a comprehensive knowledge management strategy.

How to create an internal knowledge base

Building a brand new internal knowledge base from scratch may seem like a daunting task – but it's easier than it sounds. Here's a quick step-by-step guide to help you get started.

Step 1. Select the right internal knowledge base software

There are many options to choose from – we've put together a list of the best internal knowledge base software to help you narrow down your options. Approach this decision with care. Choosing a platform that is too slow or complex will make it difficult for you to get your team on board. At the same time, something too basic and unstructured, such as Google Docs, may make it a challenge to keep your knowledge organized.

Take some time to consider your requirements and evaluate your options. Ideally, the software you pick should:

Internal knowledge base search

Step 2. Organize the topics you want to include

Start by creating a list of high-level topics and questions you want to cover. In Nuclino, you can create a dedicated workspace for each high-level topic, for example, Engineering, Customer Support, HR Policies, Company Information, and so on. After you have the basic structure in place, you can go ahead and start creating the first pages of your knowledge base.

Related pages can be easily linked together using internal links. This will allow your team to explore your knowledge base in a more intuitive way and help them discover relevant information more quickly. Simply type "@" and the name of the page you want to link to.

Internal links between pages in an internal knowledge base

Step 3. Import or create content

If you are switching from another software, such as Confluence or Google Docs, you can easily import your content into Nuclino.

If you are creating a new internal knowledge base from scratch, don't fret – the visual editor makes it easy to get started. All content in Nuclino can be collaborated on in real time, automatically saving every change in version history and preventing version conflicts. Integrations with 25+ different apps allow you to bring your content to life with interactive media embeds, including videos, maps, slides, spreadsheets, and more.

Internal knowledge base content

Step 4. Configure access rights

Your internal knowledge base may contain all kinds of information. Some of it – such as performance reviews, for example – should be accessible only to certain team members. Keeping such confidential information safe and preventing unauthorized employees from changing or deleting content is a critical step in building your knowledge base.

To properly configure permissions and access rights for your team members, there are several questions you need to answer:

Step 5. Create a welcome page

Your knowledge base will only deliver value if you manage to get your team on board. Getting used to a new tool is not easy, and first impressions matter. Creating a beautiful welcome page is a perfect opportunity to provide some guidance on how to use it and where to find what.

Need some inspiration? Use our free welcome page template.

Step 6. Ask for feedback

For your new knowledge base to be adopted by your team, it needs to offer genuinely helpful and up-to-date information. Don't try to guess and do everything by yourself, invite your colleagues to contribute and share their feedback. Assign the comment-only role to users who should be able to comment on content without being able to modify it directly.

Feedback in an internal knowledge base

Best internal knowledge base software

While it's technically possible to set up an internal knowledge base using something as simple as Google Docs, dedicated knowledge sharing tools offer many advantages.

When it comes to specialized internal knowledge base software, there are many options to choose from. There is no objectively best solution, and depending on your team's unique workflow and requirements, a different tool may be a better fit. To make your decision easier, we've put together a list of the 5 best internal knowledge base tools – check it out and find the one that best suits your team's needs.

1. Nuclino

Best internal knowledge base Nuclino

If you want to build an internal knowledge base that is easy to use, lightweight, and collaborative, there is no better option than Nuclino. It's not feature-packed – by design. Instead, it focuses on getting the essentials just right: its interface is clean, the collaborative editing experience is frictionless, the search is fast and reliable.

Nuclino comes with a minimal learning curve, making it easy for the entire team to quickly get the hang of it. Its simplicity also doesn't preclude it from being highly versatile. In addition to being a great tool for building your internal knowledge base, Nuclino can also be easily used for project collaboration, collaborative documentation, sprint planning, asynchronous communication, and much more.

2. Confluence

Internal knowledge base 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 be a great option for teams already using other Atlassian products, such as Jira and BitBucket.

While originally designed as a software documentation tool, Confluence can be successfully used as an internal knowledge base for the entire company. It's highly customizable and offers extensive formatting options, advanced permission management, and enterprise-grade security. Note that it comes with a certain learning curve, so be prepared to dedicate enough time to training your team.

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

3. GitBook

Internal knowledge base software GitBook

GitBook is a modern and slick solution designed by developers for developers. It offers a variety of unique features that any software development team can appreciate, including Markdown commands, code snippets, rich embeds, Git-style branching, GitHub integration, and more.

But GitBook is more than just an internal knowledge base. In addition to making it easy to manage your internal documentation, you can publish your external, customer-facing knowledge base using the same platform. GitBook lets you pick your own domain and customize the branding to create beautiful docs without any coding or design required.

It may not be a great fit for non-technical users, but you are running a development team and like the idea of consolidating all your internal knowledge and public documentation in one place, GitBook is certainly worth checking out.

4. Papyrs

Internal knowledge base Papyrs

Papyrs is a fairly multi-purpose tool that can be used for a variety of use cases. You can use it to set up your internal knowledge base, create an intranet portal for your employees, share team announcements, collaborate on projects, and much more. You can also publish content for your customers and external partners.

The feature set of Papyrs is fairly broad and includes everything you might need to set up your internal 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 add to your knowledge base.

5. SharePoint

Internal knowledge base 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 tool on this list.

SharePoint is a full-featured intranet platform that can also be used as an internal knowledge base. 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 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.

There are many other great internal knowledge base tools that deserve an honorable mention, including BookStack, Wiki.js, MediaWiki, Notion (and many Notion alternatives), and more.

Whatever solution you choose, at the end of the day, an internal knowledge base is only useful if people keep it up-to-date and consult it regularly. If your team has never used an internal knowledge base before, you may need to invest time into communicating its value to your colleagues. But once you get the buy-in, your efforts will pay off with higher employee productivity, improved team communication, and faster onboarding.

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