How to Build a Knowledge Management System

Learn how to improve the flow of knowledge within your organization.

Every single process in your business depends on some kind of specialized knowledge. Whether it's responding to a customer query, onboarding a new employee, or troubleshooting a technical issue – in order to correctly execute their tasks, employees need to possess the relevant know-how.

A knowledge management system (KMS) is a tool designed to make sure your team has access to the information they need, when they need it. In this article, we will dive deeper into what a KMS is and how you can build one for your own company.

What is a knowledge management system (KMS)

Knowledge management is the process of recording, sharing, and applying organizational knowledge. A knowledge management system, also referred to as a knowledge base, is any tool that facilitates knowledge management and improves the flow of knowledge within your organization.

Here's what a knowledge management system may look like in Nuclino, a knowledge sharing and team collaboration tool.

Knowledge management system example Nuclino

A knowledge management system can contain a wide variety of information, including:

Knowledge management system examples

Knowledge management systems can take many forms, from dedicated knowledge sharing tools to general-purpose solutions such as Google Drive. Let's go over some of the most common knowledge management system examples.

Wiki

Creating a wiki is one of the most common ways to set up a KMS. While the most well-known wiki is undoubtedly Wikipedia, many companies set up their own private wikis to organize and share knowledge internally.

Wikis owe their popularity to their unique approach to organizing knowledge. Instead of disconnected docs in separate folders, a wiki allows you to link related pages together using internal links, making it easy to browse and discover new content.

Internal links in a KMS

Wikis are also collaborative by design, making it easy for users to not just read, but also maintain the content. If you want to encourage members of your organization to contribute to your knowledge management system, a wiki would be a great format for you.

Intranet portal

Another popular way to set up a knowledge management system is to use an intranet portal. An intranet is an internal platform designed to help employees share information, communicate, and collaborate on documents, plans, and tasks.

Now, it's important to note that traditional corporate intranets have earned a bad rap in recent years. More often than not, they are slow, hard to navigate, full of outdated content, and just plain ugly.

But it doesn't have to be this way. As more and more modern and user-friendly platforms enter the market every year, intranets are making a comeback. If you are planning to use an intranet portal as your KMS, make sure to choose the software carefully.

Document management platform

If you prefer to keep things simple, you may set up your KMS using a basic document sharing tool. Many smaller companies start with Google Drive as their KMS before moving to a more advanced platform.

Be aware that most typical document management tools have considerable limitations and are generally not designed for knowledge management. It may be tempting to just stick with Google Drive if everybody on your team is already using it and is not too keen on picking up yet another tool, but a dedicated knowledge management platform can save you a lot of frustration down the road.

The benefits of developing a KMS

The main goal of setting up a knowledge management system is to improve organizational efficiency by making relevant knowledge accessible to the employees who need it.

Company knowledge often ends up spread out across Slack, archived email threads, and disconnected notes. As a result, finding the information you need becomes a challenge. Studies show that on average, employees spend 9.3 hours per week searching for information. That essentially means that if you had five employees, only four would show up to work. The fifth would be busy searching for answers, but not contributing any value.

A KMS is developed to prevent that from happening. Facilitating knowledge sharing within your organization has numerous benefits:

All of this helps the organization to foster innovation, boost employee productivity, and operate more efficiently overall.

How to build your own KMS

Setting up a knowledge management system may seem like an intimidating, time-consuming project with an ROI that's difficult to measure. But it's far easier than it sounds.

Step 1. Choose the right KMS platform

The first – and most important – step is to choose where you will host your knowledge management system. Choosing a platform that is too slow or complex will make it difficult for you to get your team on board. Fortunately, today there are many user-friendly solutions to choose from.

While the ideal solution will depend on your specific requirements, best-in-class KMS tools tend to offer the following vital features:

One such tool is Nuclinocreate an account to get started.

KMS search

Step 2. Set up the structure of your KMS

Next, put together a list of topics you want to cover and think about how you want to structure them. 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 management system.

Step 3. Import or create content

If you already have the content documented somewhere, this step should be easy. Most KMS platforms allow you to import your content with minimal effort.

But if you are starting from scratch, don't fret. Start with a few easy topics and invite your team to contribute. The visual collaborative editor of Nuclino makes it easy to get started.

KMS visual editor

Step 4. Configure access rights

Being able to restrict access to certain content is a vital feature for any knowledge management system.

Are you planning to store confidential information in your KMS, such as performance reviews? Should only some members be allowed to edit certain content, such as your brand guidelines? Make sure to carefully configure permissions and access rights for all users.

Knowledge management system access rights

Step 5. Onboard your team

A knowledge management system can only serve its purpose if it's actually used by your team. If your organization never had a KMS before, it may take time to develop the right habits. But there are a few things you can do to speed things up:

Setting up an effective knowledge management system will certainly require some effort. But it's a worthwhile investment. After all, it has been estimated that Fortune 500 companies lose roughly $31.5 billion a year by failing to share knowledge — a KMS can not only make it easier for your employees to do their jobs, but also cut your business costs in the long run.

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