Teaching Them to Fish: Strategy for Implementing a Knowledge Base

Teaching Them to Fish: Strategy for Implementing a Knowledge Base

In a previous post, I talked about how to start getting your internal knowledge into a knowledge base.  But just because you’ve built a knowledge base, doesn’t mean people will begin using it.  You need to ensure that content is maintained and that people know how to use it to find the information they need.

Here’s a strategy I’ve used when implementing a new knowledge base in a scenario where users rely on IT support people and helpdesk systems:

  1. When a new helpdesk request is submitted, the IT support person uses the knowledge base to determine if an answer has already been documented.
  2. If the answer has been documented, the IT support person sends the link to the knowledge base answer along with an explanation of how to find it by searching the knowledge base. (Ex: “Hi Fred, I found these instructions by searching with “iPhone” and “IMAP” in our knowledge base: https://www.knowledgebaseurlhere.edu…”)
  3. If the answer there is no documented answer in the knowledge base, the IT support person could either take the time to document it first and then follow the steps for #2, or he or she could reply to the ticket but save a copy of the answer for the knowledge base later.

There are several reasons for using this strategy:

  • It develops and maintains and the knowledge base documentation. Each time helpdesk issues arise, documentation is either being created or reviewed.  Your efforts are placed proportionally to the need of your customer base.
  • It ensures a consistent party-line answer. Your knowledge base becomes the canon.  All helpdesk people refer to it for answers, so there is less of a chance that users become confused or frustrated by answers that change based on which person they ask.
  • It saves support staff the redundant effort of providing an explanation if one is already out there. If one user has an issue, chances are another user may have it later.  Having that information saved for future-even if one or two steps need to be updated-will save you effort later.
  • It’s a subtle way to show users how to search for answers within the knowledge base. You are not only encouraging support people to use and maintain a knowledge base, but you are having support people teach the users how to use the knowledge base.  Instead of just feeding them the answers, you are teaching them how to fish for them!

For more information, check out Writing Documentation & Training Materials.

Photo Credit: Fishing Harbour in Setubal by fotografar

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Change Management, helpdesk, helpdesks, knowledge base, support

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This post was written by:

Nikki Massaro Kauffman

Nikki Massaro Kauffman - who has written 42 posts on .eduGuru

Nikki is a multimedia specialist with Penn State's World Campus Learning Design unit, creating and editing multimedia for online courses.

Previously, she was technology training coordinator with the Penn State University Libraries, responsible for technology training offered in the Libraries' 20+ departments and 30+ library locations.  

Over the years, she's been she served as an interim associate director of instructional technology and multimedia, a programmer, a database specialist, a Microsoft Certified Master Instructor, a continuing education instructor for seniors and adults with disabilities, and a high school English and communications technology teacher.  

Her interests are in the areas where technology, training, and communication intersect.  She holds degrees in both computer science and in education.  She is also an insomniac and an extreme extrovert with an indiscriminate love of language (including expletives).

4 Responses to “Teaching Them to Fish: Strategy for Implementing a Knowledge Base”

  1. Avatar image
    antivirus firewall Says:

    valuable tips. These are very important steps which every team have to implement during any project. thanks for this info,


  2. Avatar image
    John Simpkins Says:

    Awesome, and numbered and bulleted! Super easy to remember the things this way but I’m still bookmarking the page. I know I’m going to need to come back to it some day.


  3. Avatar image
    Kurt Dill Says:

    I am looking for an antivirus firewall expert in mumbai. Do you know any?


  4. Avatar image
    IT Support in London Says:

    Nice article here, We use a KB in our business which runs on a SQL DB and also has a web front-end which is nice as it can be accessed anywhere in the world and even on our IPhones. Every business especially those in the IT industry should have a Knowledge Base.


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