Tired of hunting for the information you need to do your job effectively? You’re not alone. Research shows that 44% of employee knowledge searches end in failure – and often because the information contained within company documents is either redundant or wrong.
We’ll look in more detail at the pressing issue of internal documentation. What is it? How can it benefit your business? And what can you do to ensure nobody in your organization has to waste precious hours searching for the answers they need?
Internal documentation examples
“Internal documentation” describes every piece of written information within your organization that is designed for internal use. This covers a huge range of content but most of it will fit into one of four basic categories:
Process documentation and similar documents describing standard operating procedures and workflows.
Documents used throughout the employee lifecycle, from recruitment through to offboarding, as well as HR policies, handbooks, and guides.
Documents associated with a specific project – for example, the statement of work, important client emails, meeting minutes, and project plans.
Documents that are usually kept within a particular team, for example the internal comms team’s email style guide.
Benefits of internal documentation
Internal documentation is often mocked for being disorganized, irrelevant, or out of date. However, get it right, and there are many benefits of collecting useful content knowledge about your organization and enabling your employees to access it when they need. For example:
Make company knowledge accessible to all
Whom do I talk to about booking a vacation? How do I format a digital marketing campaign brief? What’s the structure of the talent acquisition team? Questions like these come up every day in most companies. Democratizing knowledge and making internal documentation accessible makes it easier for employees to find the answers themselves, helping them resolve issues on their own. We’ve also witnessed organizations reducing the number of support tickets created and improving their bottom line by implementing a modern knowledge management.
Storing organizational knowledge in an easily accessible location can reduce the amount of time employees spend stuck on problems and free them up for more profitable tasks. Warning: if you fail to keep your internal documentation well-organized and up to date then your employees will waste even more time searching for the information they need. We’ve seen this with sales representatives in large organizations. But when their teams have access to an effective knowledge-sharing platform they can improve productivity, close deals faster, and service customers and prospects better.
Reduce training requirements
Giving employees access to the collective knowledge allows them to learn about tools, technologies, processes, and workflows in their own time and at their own pace. This can reduce the need for costly formal training programs and is especially useful for helping new joiners get up to speed with company policies and procedures.
Prevent information loss
It has been estimated that 80%of the information needed to perform any given role is locked inside the head of the person currently doing it. What happens to all that information when people move on? Capturing knowledge in a central source of truth is one way to prevent critical knowledge and insights from leaving your organization. When organizations fail to document their internal knowledge, they risk redoing what has already been done, which can greatly affect an organization’s ability to focus on new innovative projects and improve their time-to-market on new products.
Best practices for managing internal documentation
Want to get the most out of your organization’s internal documentation? Here are some key things you need to consider:
Choose the right tool
From internal wikis to intranet sites, from Microsoft Office to Google Docs, there are lots of different tools to help you organize and share internal documentation. Which is best depends on your company’s set-up – but, at the very least, the tools you choose should make content easy for users to organize, edit, and search.
Use a centralized platform
Knowledge silos make it harder for employees to collaborate, innovate and get stuff done. It will also be more difficult for people to find the answers they need if information is scattered across different sources. Having one go-to platform for internal knoweldge is a must.
Make it intuitive
Everybody in your business needs to be able to search, find, and share internal documentation and knowledge. Most organizations, however, don’t have the time or money to train every single employee. This is why it is so important to have an internal knowledge-sharing platform that anybody, even non-technical people, can pick up and use.
Ensure content is reliable and up to date
A recent commissioned study conducted by Forrester Consulting on behalf of Starmind found that 45% of employees believe they spend too much time searching through documents for the answers they need. Common complaints include the fact that information is inaccurate, outdated, or redundant. Save time for your employees by ensuring internal documentation is checked regularly for relevance and accuracy.
Match answers to questions
Subject matter experts know a lot about their topics of interest. This means that the documents they create tend to be informed, accurate and comprehensive – but they can often be too comprehensive for their own good. Most users don’t need to know all the technical ins and outs. They’re just looking for the specific information, or tacit knowledge, they need to sort out a customer problem or get unstuck with their work. Using a knowledge-collaboration platform like Starmind allows your subject matter experts to see exactly what other people want to know about. This way, they don’t waste time producing huge documents nobody will ever read. Instead, they can create bite-sized content that answers the specific questions and improves knowledge sharing across the whole organization.
Enhancing internal knowledge with Starmind
Internal documentation often gets a bad press – and with good reason. The average employee spends three hours a day searching for the answers they need to do their jobs, and much of that time is spent sifting through information that is inaccurate or out of date.
The solution? A platform that can gather and organize company knowledge into bitesize answers that employees can access instantly, whenever they need.
Starmind uses AI to build a real-time knowledge network, taking answers provided by your most knowledgable employees on a given topic and turning them into content that anybody with a question can find quickly and easily. This puts an end to costly information searches and frees your people up to focus on more profitable tasks, like serving customers and growing your business.
Learn more about how you can use Starmind to gather, connect, and share knowledge across your organization.