Are you sick of answering the same questions over and over again? Are your reps wasting time searching for information they can’t find? Do new hires get lost amid your processes and documentation? Are you at risk of losing vital knowledge when employees leave? 

While things may start out simple and straightforward, the larger your business gets, the more complicated knowledge gets. You accumulate more information, stored between more places, to serve more employees – all of which makes it more difficult to enable knowledge transfer so people can get their jobs done. 

The solution to that? A strategy that covers how you identify, capture, create, share, evaluate, and surface all that information. In other words: knowledge management.

But not all knowledge management products and services are created equal. Here are the two most common approaches to doing all of the above, and how to tell which will serve you better.

The Knowledge Base

Knowledge bases are like libraries of content. They’re highly organized and powerful repositories that make it easy for your team or your customers to find information when they have questions they need answered.

Where you can see them in action:

  • Self-service articles and videos for customer service
  • HR FAQs for information on benefits, vacation, etc.
  • IT resources that help employees troubleshoot technical issues

Where they shine:

Knowledge bases free up time for your team by bringing scattered information together into one point of entry, to serve a specific purpose. So if someone wants to look up details about a new discount on offer, they don’t have to search through mountains of files or across different platforms.

They also help cut down on distractions. Those pesky questions that keep coming up? They’re great candidates for a knowledge base entry, so reps can find answers quickly without tapping their leaders or colleagues on the shoulder.

Where they fall short:

Knowledge bases aren’t great at capturing what your reps know but have never written down – their tribal knowledge. Most are one-directional, where someone inputs information into the system for everyone else to read, which means the tribal stuff stays locked away.

The Knowledge-Sharing Platform

Knowledge sharing platforms take the repository features and productivity benefits of knowledge bases and kick it up a notch so users can do things like generate their own content, ask questions in context, crowdsource answers, and share feedback, all in real-time.

Where you can see them in action:

  • Sales playbooks that surface reps’ best tips and tricks for the whole team
  • Onboarding resources that give new team members the most current and relevant info
  • Event planning guides that evolve organically with each lesson learned 

Where they shine:

Knowledge sharing platforms are collaborative to their core. The best information surfaces when everyone can contribute, which makes it easier to find that hyper-relevant nugget you missed that’ll help your reps move deals through faster.

They’re also great at tribal knowledge management. Capturing it is vital – after all, what would you do if your company knowledge left the building at 5 every day? Knowledge sharing platforms give reps both the opportunity and motivation to share their experiences with the team.

Where they fall short:

If you’re just looking for an easy way to publish answers to common questions and nothing more, a full knowledge sharing platform might be a little overkill. But if you’re planning to grow, and you want to enable your staff to share their own knowledge, it’s by far the best option.

Our final thoughts

No matter what you buy, make sure it supports:

  • Strong search and robust navigation that helps your team find answers fast
  • Measurement functionality so you can track which content works and what’s collecting dust
  • Accessibility across devices so reps can use it at their desks or on the go.
  • A variety of content types, from text to video and everything in between

And finally, always look at your business needs – both today and tomorrow – before you make that final purchase. You’ll want something scalable that grows as your company knowledge and your team grows. 

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