Using your intranet for knowledge management
If you are working in one of the many organizations that are striving to win a competitive edge by managing and sharing knowledge in a more structured way, this article is for you.
Below we will present how you can use your intranet to establish a solution for structured knowledge sharing to realize the wisdom of the crowd by building and improving joint knowledge. We will provide examples from such a solution based on Microsoft 365 and Omnia, but we are confident that the information is valuable even if you are using other intranet platforms or knowledge management systems.
A strong concept for knowledge sharing
By way of introduction, Omnia is a fully-featured intranet product with impressive performance and excellent user experience on all screens, from mobile to digital signage. The product also comes with a strong concept for establishing structured knowledge sharing within your intranet.
However, driving a knowledge-sharing initiative will not just be about the features available. You will need to create a business case, secure leadership support, recruit ambassadors, and prepare and plan the solution in the same way that you would do with any business improvement project. For more information on these steps, you can download the step-by-step guide to a Knowledge Management solution for free.
Below we will focus on what you need to do to establish a knowledge-sharing solution within your intranet, covering these aspects:
- Preparing and creating communities.
- Building a joint knowledge base.
- Realizing the wisdom of the crowd.
- Driving adoption of the solution.
To start with, Omnia holds a template for knowledge-sharing communities. You can of course create new templates, or configure the one that comes with the product, to fit your requirements. But if you don’t have any need for customizations, you are good to go from a solution point of view.
Preparing and creating knowledge-sharing communities
We see a community as a group of people, spread across the organization, who voluntarily come together to interact and learn from each other within a defined topic. Based on Omnia, it will be easy for end-users to create new communities using a step-by-step wizard providing the information and properties needed in the process.
Image: Step-by-step wizard for creating communities
But before you go ahead and invite users to start setting up communities, it might be worth underlining that, to be successful, every community needs to be well prepared. Before setting up a community you need to be clear on topics, tags, moderators, and how to recruit members.
First, before setting up a community you need to define the topic. What is this community all about, what subjects will be discussed, and what knowledge will be shared? Make sure that the topics need to be of interest to many users across different roles and departments within the organization.
Every community needs one or several moderators to drive user engagement and facilitate knowledge sharing. Moderators will be your internal champions, and without them user activity in a community will probably decrease after just a couple of weeks.
You need to have a plan for how to recruit, introduce and engage members. This could include highlighting new communities in navigation, suggesting communities to employees based on interest, or by publishing news articles. Also, having a group of core members signed up for the community at launch will help drive user engagement.
Since we expect content within the knowledge base to grow by the day, we recommend that discussions, articles, and documents should be able to categorize to help build findability. To get that process going, we recommend that you should set up a number of promoted tags that people can use when sharing knowledge.
Image: The About the community tab shows topics, moderators, and promoted tags.
Since there are several aspects of a community that needs to be prepared, we advise that the creation of communities should be done via approval. Such a setup will provide a method for checking that the preparations have been done correctly.
Building a joint knowledge base
Within communities, end-users will contribute to building a joint knowledge base by creating, sharing and improving content. In the community template in Omnia, you will find tools for starting and taking part in discussions, creating articles, and sharing documents – all valuable tools in our knowledge management best practices.
We expect discussions between the members to be the most common type of content. It is easy to post a new idea or a question and then the community can join in to provide feedback, answers, or post new ideas. Discussions can be ongoing for days or even weeks, and the person who started it can pick a best reply and thereby indicating that the discussion is closed.
To allow interaction with content, we recommend that members should be able to like and share discussions.
Discussions are a great tool for knowledge sharing, but they can also point to subjects where there is a need for further elaboration. In such cases, a community member can use the easy-to-use publishing process in Omnia to share knowledge and advice in an article. The author will create content in a ready-made layout, add pictures, videos, links, or other related content, choose tags and publish to share with other members.
To encourage engagement, we recommend that members should be able to rate, comment, and share articles.
Another scenario is when a community member has created or downloaded a document that might be of interest to other users. This could be a great sales presentation that could be used by others or some public report with information relevant to the members. A user can upload a document in a simple way, adding a brief description of the content and tags for categorization.
Interact to improve
Successful knowledge sharing is highly dependent on how community members interact with content. We recommend that members should be able to:
- Like, comment, and share discussions.
- Rate, comment, and share articles.
- Rate, comment, and share documents.
You might also want to consider using the possibility for end-users to provide feedback to the author without having to post it as a comment on an article page or a document. Our experience is that interaction with the content will help improve content over time, which in turn will add value to the joint knowledge base.
Image: Shared document in community.
Realizing the wisdom of the crowd
Building a knowledge base is a great first step towards a successful knowledge management solution. But to provide real value to the organization we must make sure we can realize the wisdom of the crowd. Based on Omnia, we can achieve this using navigation, notifications, and search that can help end-users find content and stay on top of what is going on in communities.
First, within an organization, you will probably find several communities, and these are typically open for anyone to find and join. A basic way to provide navigation to communities is to set up a community portal with a directory showing all communities. In the portal you should provide a directory of all communities including navigation and descriptions of the topics respectively.
We also recommend that the community portal should present what communities the logged-on user follows.
When accessing a community you will arrive at the welcome page, displaying the recently shared knowledge assets. You can also use directories to find discussions, articles, and documents, with the knowledge assets sorted based on date, rating, or popularity.
Image: Notifications on new posts in followed communities.
Users entering a community should be presented with an easy way to join the community. When doing so the user will start a subscription on new or updated content and will be notified when new knowledge assets are published. The user can find information on new posts in the notification panel, also making it easy to navigate to any new posts.
There are many scenarios where employees will use the intranet search function to find information, and this also goes for content in communities. Our recommendation within this area is to set up several search categories that can help end-users to identify and separate the different types of content. The information available in communities might be of great value for users, but still, it is not official information that the user must comply with.
Image: Search for community content only.
Naturally, user adoption is key for being successful with a knowledge management process. Too few members or too little interaction will put any community to sleep. We advise you that driving user adoption is an ongoing concern, that you will need to work with long term.
Within Omnia, you will find tools that can be a vital part of that work, and use community badges, tutorials, micro-courses to spur user engagement. Providing a great mobile experience, and making communities available also in Microsoft Teams, can also be solution aspects that can prove valuable in this area.
With Omnia, you can activate a feature to let users collect points for creating content, sharing knowledge, and interacting with colleagues. You will also be able to define a set of community badges corresponding to a certain level of activity points. These features will signal to employees that the organization wants them to spend working time to share knowledge and assist their colleagues, and also provide an opportunity to acknowledge the top contributors.
Image: Top contributors with community badges.
We recommend that you should provide a tutorial for introducing end-users to communities within the community portal. In a step-by-step guide, you will be able to explain how you expect employees to use communities, create content, and interact with colleagues. The tutorial should also cover areas as community badges, subscriptions, and notifications.
Another great way of introducing employees to communities and your knowledge-sharing solution is the Omnia concept of micro-courses. These are step-by-step courses presenting text, images, videos, links, and relevant information to let users learn about the course subject. It is also possible to add a knowledge check to give users a way of checking that they got the message.
We believe that setting up a micro-course about structured knowledge sharing within your organization will help users understand the overall concept, and encourage them to join in.
Teams and mobile access
End-users have different preferences when it comes to how they want to access information and apps, and this also goes for communities and knowledge assets. Since we have seen that Microsoft Teams becoming a preferred client for many people during the last two years, we recommend that you should make your intranet available also in the Teams context. This will also make communities and any knowledge-related content available in the same way.
Omnia also comes with a mobile app that can help you deliver knowledge content and tools also to mobile devices, letting users access communities from any location and at any time.
Image: Community in Microsoft Teams
Want to learn more about structured knowledge sharing?
In this article, you have learned how you can use Omnia to establish a solution for structured knowledge sharing within your intranet.
Start with a solution based on the knowledge-sharing concept in Omnia and assign resources for driving adoption. Make sure that communities are well prepared before creation, and that it is easy for end-users to create and share content. Encourage community members to interact with colleagues and content, and provide navigation, notification, and search tools to ensure users can stay on top of new and updated content.
Based on the solution described in this post you will be able to:
- Build a joint knowledge base.
- Realize wisdom of the crowd.
- Drive adoption.
If you want to learn more about using your intranet for successful knowledge sharing, we recommend downloading the report Intranet and Employee Experience Platforms 2022 to take part in reviews of the best products in the market.
Since 2015 UK based ClearBox Consulting has published yearly reports on intranet products with the purpose to help workplace leaders, intranet managers, and IT professionals to understand the market and match products to priority requirements. The 2022 edition of the report was released in January covering in-depth reviews of 19 products and holding +200 screenshots of intranet start pages and innovative features, including community and knowledge-sharing features.
The report states that Omnia delivers a fully-featured intranet with impressive performance and excellent user experience on all screens, from mobile to digital signage. The product has also received praise for the knowledge-sharing concept connecting users and content within communities, and the navigation and search features for delivering a great user experience.
To learn more on knowledge management, we also recommend attending the webinar Boost your intranet with a solution for structured knowledge sharing which will provide further insights and examples within this subject. In the webinar we will share knowledge management system examples based on Microsoft 365 and Omnia, but the content will be valuable also if you are using a different product for knowledge management.
Please get in touch if you wish to get a demo of how Omnia can help to improve knowledge sharing within your intranet.