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How Knowledgeable can a Knowledge Base really be?

A knowledge base can be defined as a centralised system for the storing of data, typically in the form of a database. Knowledge bases can be used in a multitude of business environments and could contain information on various different subject areas (think Wikipedia).

When we have this repository of centralised information at our fingertips how useful can it be and what are the benefits for the end user and the business?

Knowledge bases are becoming more prevalent in an IT support environment. There are a number of vendors that provide software, allowing businesses to start creating their own knowledge base but why should a business put the time, money and effort into creating such a resource?

The guiding principle behind implementing a knowledge base is the ability to save the business money (once initial costs have been covered). Within an IT support environment common problems that are called in can be added to the knowledge base. This has the advantage of employees being able to utilise a great resource but also the added benefit of allowing the knowledge base to be opened up to customers. This could result in a reduction of calls to the support department as customers can diagnose and potentially solve their own issues.

Another worthwhile consideration to mitigate the initial start up costs is that of the information itself. Even if staff turnover is not an issue within the business, it is certainly not avoidable. By encouraging employees to add issues and solutions on a regular basis the information is not walking out of the door with them.

One final consideration is that of staff training costs. When a new member of staff joins the support team, that may not have much experience in the industry, it can be costly to get them up to scratch. With an extensive library of information in the form of a knowledge base in place, it could avoid having to charge a more senior member of the team with looking after the newer member of staff.

A knowledge base is certainly something to consider and will pay dividends if employees across all levels jump on board. What is worth remembering is the knowledge base is only as good as the information that people put into it.

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