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In my current work we think we can get benefit from having a knowledge base, so the next time someone has a question/problem etc, that base can be consulted and an answer will show up.

Also, it will reduce the risk from having people leaving the company with the knowledge and we would have to start all over again.

My question is, what strategy can we follow to implement/buy/get/build/etc this knowledge base?

Are there software ready for this? Would it be better to have something build by ourselves ( we have some programmers )

This is an small company ( < 30 ) and the base should be accessible from outside the office ( when the employees are with the customer etc.) so I guess a webapp is in order.

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7 Answers 7

Without going in to much detail I can think of two and can be made accessible through the browser outside of your company network...

  1. MediaWiki - The same software that runs Wikipedia can be set up for your company. I believe you need to have a server running PHP/MySQL to run this software. No monetary cost associated with this solution outside of hardware.
  2. SharePoint - This software is also free but requires Windows Server 2003 or newer (not free) and SQL Server (not free and cannot remember the required version). We use SharePoint in our company and while is nice at times I believe would be bloated for using it just as a knowledge base.
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How do you use SharePoint as a knowledge base? Is there a web application you install? –  Steve Jan 16 at 3:02
    
Steve, Sharepoint IS A web application. It has - mediocre to say nice - wiki functionality. –  TomTom Jun 17 at 7:52

The best strategy is not technical - it is with people. It doesn't matter if you use technology X or Y, if people don't see any benefit of using and contributing to the knowledge base.

You can choose a good wiki software (MediaWiki, for example). But beware: the simplest thing will be deploying the software. The hardest thing will be deploying a knowledge collaboration mindset.

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We are currently working on a similar knowledge base using Atlassian Confluence, a commercial Wiki system. What makes this Wiki more than worth the money, is its userfriendliness -- it's a million times more accessible and user-friendly than, e.g., MediaWiki. This is important for adoption of such a system, especially when not all users are very tech-savvy. Do check out their website for extensive documentation, case studies etc. Highly recommended!

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+1 for Confluence. I've used mediawiki extensively in a corporate knowledge base environment before. Confluence blows it out of the water with functionality and ease-of-use. –  EEAA Apr 14 '10 at 0:21
    
-1. Was in a project using it - rarely seen something worse in usability. Ended up being actively sabotages by around 40 people in the team. –  TomTom Jun 17 at 7:51

Many of the other answers presented may not address the core issue so I'll chime in.

First, I think you need to obtain an understanding of what is the knowledge is at your organization.

Read something like http://www.amazon.com/Knowledge-Management-Theory-Practice-Dalkir/dp/075067864X to get a good feel for theory and different types of knowledge management systems that are available.

Add that to your own knowledge of your business. Go through one of the processes described by Dalkir, and describe the knowledge management requirement.

Only then should you start evaluating solutions to the requirement.

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A company I usedworked at previously used ScrewTurn Wiki to contain a knowledge base, and it was useful, especially when needing to remember how to do certain complicated tasks. I made some contributions to it, and so did other employees. So the effort does pay off.

I've also been fiddling with MediaWiki, so that is another option. I somewhat doubt you will need to build a wiki, as there are a number of tools in that space, free and commercial. Although I haven't any experience with any others beside the two I mentioned.

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We're working with GLPI at the moment, which (amongst other things) has a knowledge base module.

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If you don't already have a helpdesk, I would recommend getting one: most IT departments I've worked with had no problems adopting the use of tickets as it enabled them to get more done with less interruption. Having said that, there's a few good helpdesk systems out there that actually have a method of making helpdesk tickets "sticky" by converting them into FAQ items, and/or a wiki page.

I believe Atlassian has this kind of integration; RequestTracker (open source) does as well.

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