Papermind - A Collaborative knowledge management system for Slack
Find out how an internal knowledge base can benefit your teams using Slack.
What is knowledge base software?
A knowledge base gives people a central place to collect information about things we need and want to know to perform our role. We'd find information on services, products, topics, factual information as well as information on people. Knowledge base tools are one destination, so you and your whole team can come to know more things. A lot more things. Like knowing who, knowing what, knowing why, knowing where, knowing when, and knowing how.
In one sentence, a knowledge base is; All the short answers you need to know located in one place.
Knowledge bases come in 2 delicious flavors
Knowledge bases have two flavors. You can choose from internal knowledge bases and external knowledge bases. Oh, that’s a double scoop for me.
Let’s unpack this analogy a little more.
Internal Knowledge Base
An internal knowledge base is used by organizations so teams can collect and share information to help them perform their role. But employees need a reliable source of company information. And that's what makes a knowledge base so good because it centralizes company and team information.
Employees use it to find the information they need. And then apply that information, so they can make decisions and get on with their work. We all want our teams to collaborate, right? A knowledge base also promotes cross-team collaboration, because it lets all your teams contribute to that knowledge collaboratively.
External Knowledge Base
An External knowledge base, on the other hand, is used by organizations to serve their customers. It provides customers with an online channel, so they can get all their questions answered on the products and services they offer. Customers can use a knowledge base to serve themselves and find product and service information, which saves organizations and customers both time and money.
4 challenges of sharing team knowledge
We tend to take all the knowledge we've acquired for granted. If you think about it, much of your daily routine is automatic. You stealthily move from task to task. Deal with urgent matters, putting out spot fires within your team. Without hesitation, you check your metrics to see if everything is running smoothly and provide feedback to your team. You gather all your info, prepare for your presentation, and collaborate with your team to include more information for the meeting. You switch between applications and complete one process after the next. You finally check in with team members. You do all this without breaking a sweat, and it's only 11pm. There's a lot going on! Using hard and soft skills, you power through your day.
1. Scaling knowledge across teams and time
Now imagine for a moment if you had to pass on those skills to a new hire, or handover some of your responsibilities to another colleague. That's ok if you're in a very small team. What happens when your team grows from 10 to 35, and then to 150? Or even swells to 900? Now, multiply that effort for every new team member that joins your organization. Or for every team member in the company that needs to acquire new skills. So the question is, how do we scale sharing and knowledge exchange with others? We physically can't always be there for our team members to share what we know or how to solve a problem. An internal knowledge base gives access to company-wide knowledge and accelerates learning regardless of time and space. It’s asynchronous learning.
2. Working across 24 time zones
Ok, that sounds completely implausible. Maybe you’re just working with others across 6 time zones. You won't just face the challenge of scaling knowledge across teams, but you'll be doing it across time zones. We are all living through an erratic work transformation. We know that a lot of workplaces intend to stick with remote work and blend it with on-site workers. So the truth is, my friend. You, me, and the rest of the world will be communicating and working with team members across different countries, and time zones. Getting answers to questions may not happen straight away. Even if we use Slack or other messaging apps, because your team members aren't online at the same time. If the information was documented they could resolve issues and move onto their next task. A bank of mutual knowledge creates efficiency and is essential when people are working from multiple locations.
No more waiting on others to answer questions.
3. Them and us. A tale of two cultures
Hybrid work. Yes, these two words you're bound to hear a lot of because companies everywhere are pondering how they're going to make it work. Hybrid work is where some employees work from home, while others are onsite. The challenge is if it's not managed carefully, silos of information begin to form between in-person and onsite teams. Followed by a split of two cultures. It's a dangerous situation because it creates knowledge gaps, undermines trust, and makes it impossible for people to perform their tasks.
To keep a shared sense of purpose and transparency of information, we need tools that promote asynchronous work and community. That tool is a collaborative knowledge base.
4. Employee turnover
Some people switch jobs like they switch underwear. When people leave our team, it can be very destabilizing. Especially when they take their institutional knowledge and skills with them and walk out the door never to return. Collaborative knowledge bases encourage everyone to document and record their best ideas, and with templates, you can systemize and reshape time-consuming routine work.
How does a collaborative knowledge base work?
First, what is a collaborative knowledge base? It's all the combined know-how of your teams from across your organization, all located conveniently in one place.
A collaborative knowledge base works like this:
- Team members can easily document their knowledge.
- Make suggestions so that others can improve their knowledge.
- Contribute their know-how or share videos, build collections of links.
- Using templates, team members can collaborate together and create a record of communication. Everyone can see the latest decisions or actions.
- You can also capture conversational knowledge from Slack and post it directly to Papermind.
- Team members can work with others to co-create those 'how-to guides' that everyone asks for.
Why do you need a collaborative knowledge base?
Spend time creating real value instead of wasting time on busy work
A lot of work we do is repetitive, replicable, and routine. Nobody, including you, wants to waste time doing the same work over and over. And none of us certainly enjoy answering the same questions over and over again. Wouldn't you and your team rather spend your time on more valuable thinking and strategic work? Sorry for asking.
An internal knowledge base eliminates the busy unproductive work, instead of documenting a new guide or process from the ground up. Team members can search your central knowledge base for a template. Then jump in and complete it. Or they can use an existing guide or template and edit it. Sounds more efficient than starting from scratch.
With a knowledge base, team members can contribute and build collections of templates like guides, standards, processes, scripts, checklists and more. This means instead of starting with a blank page, you can use a template that you know has been road-tested and proven to work. For example, if you're in sales, you can create a template for a sales script. This will assist in guiding your sales teams with a proven way to respond to customer objections. Or create a range of templates to onboard new customers or franchisees. One of the many benefits of a knowledge base hub is that it centralizes company information and standardizes the way you work. Which means team members are less likely to make mistakes and that converts to a rise in productivity.
Teams make better choices, which leads to better outcomes
Every day in the workplace, we make many choices. Some of these choices are automatic, while others require more thought. In fact, it's estimated that we make approximately 70 conscious decisions every day. The more choices you make in your day, the more overwhelming it is. And the harder it becomes for you to think, and that leads to decision fatigue. The implications of making the wrong choice can have impacts on customers, managers, teams...well, you know the rest. Let's just say it can turn ugly. A central organized knowledge base with categories and galleries helps team members make better choices in their moment of need. No matter if you're learning something at work for the first time, or need to brush up on the right steps and apply it to the current situation. A knowledge base sets your team members on the right track. With categories and tags, the right information is presented to your teams as they need it. Freeing them from choice overload.
Collaborative learning leads to increased motivation
A collaborative knowledge base demonstrates to new hires that you are committed to continuous learning. That you encourage different perspectives and opinions. A knowledge base that works with tools you already use, like Slack, means that you value continuous learning and collaboration. Best of all, it fuels motivation. A study by Standford shows that when people know they are collaborating with others, typically they:
- Persisted 48 to 64 percent longer on a challenging task
- Reported more interest in the task
- Felt less tired even when staying on task
- Become much more immersed in the task and performed better on it.
How can you turn knowledge into action?
You and your teams use shared knowledge to perform your jobs. There is no argument there. But at the end of the day, we need to actually take what we learn and turn it into something. How can you close the gap between knowing and doing?
We at Papermind believe that knowledge should lead to action. That is, knowing and doing should happen at the same time.
Without knowledge, action is useless, and knowledge without action is futile
So to help you encourage action at work. Papermind supports templates so you can make more good things happen. Or choose to create your own template and share it with others for feedback and action. You can create guides, checklists, and plans. Really anything that drives a culture of action and collaboration. So your team can learn together and do the work simultaneously.
How can a knowledge base benefit team members with their everyday work?
So glad you asked.
Here are 4 everyday situations where a collaborative knowledge base will benefit your company and it’s teams
1. First days at a new job. When new hires are learning for the first time
New team members are often anxious and unsure about who is the best person to answer their questions. They have so much to learn about the new company, tasks, team norms, culture. A knowledge base helps to shorten the learning curve because it streamlines communication. It also minimizes uncertainty and gives them a chance to start collaborating with others.
You can accelerate their learning and make them feel welcome with a good remote work onboarding plan or employee handbook.
2. Learn More. When team members need to skill up to do their job
Every day no matter where we work, we always need to learn more. Co-workers might have gaps in their knowledge if they suddenly have to take on a new role or take on other responsibilities. An internal knowledge base provides them with one location to use trusted information and access ready-to-use workflows like templates for projects, strategies, plans guides. With all their 'How To' content, they can get up to speed and complete tasks confidently.
3. Apply knowledge to a task in real-time
In the workplace, it's expected that we undertake training to help us do our jobs. But do any of us remember all of that formal training we undertook from 6, 9 or even 18 months ago? Like that data security awareness course, or the remote work health and safety policy training? Didn't think so.
Most likely, we'll remember some training. But it's likely not going to help us solve that issue that has landed on our plate right now.
So, how do we bridge the gap between remembering and knowing how to apply what we've learned? The solution, a collaborative knowledge base. Using a knowledge base activates teams' prior knowledge. Because it lets team members access bite-sized chunks of company knowledge and collaborate at the same time. For example, they can access collections of FAQ's, 'How to's' and 1-minute video guides. As well as ready to fill in templates that steer them along the correct course of action. They can find the information they need when they need it, without interruption to their workflow.
During moments at work, when we need to apply our knowledge in real-time. It's equally crucial for us to collaborate with team members to get feedback or fact check our work. The most efficient way is by using messaging tools like Slack.
A knowledge base that connects with messaging tools means team members can start a discussion and then share content straight to Slack.
4. When things go wrong, or when work changes
In order to prepare for the inevitability of change and turbulence, we must continually learn, adapt, and develop our skills and knowledge. Similarly, our employers must recognize that they need to commit to learning and provide the tools and culture to support it. Skills like learning agility are quickly becoming the magic ingredient of the 21st century workplace.
Take Google; the number one thing that Google looked for in candidates is an ability to learn. The ability to process on the fly and pull disparate bits of information together.
When things go wrong, like an emergency health or safety hazard, or when there's an urgent change request from an external partner, how would you respond? How would your team respond? Where do you and your team members go to find out 'what to do'? In these situations, team members don't have the luxury of time. And that means they don't have time to log in to their LMS and wade through a tangled mess of bloated and overwhelming content. They need to make quick decisions in a few minutes. They need practical information, so they can convert it into action on the job in real-time. They depend on access to the right information at the exact moment of need. So they can focus on resolving the problem within the small window of time available to them.
A knowledge base supports team members with just in time information to perform their job at the highest level possible. A collaborative knowledge base is like throwing your team members a life preserver. In real-time, they can locate critical information they need to deal with uncertainty and apply it.
Now that you know the benefits of a collaborative knowledge base, learn more on how you can put Papermind to work for your teams
Papermind is a central destination for your teams to find answers or share knowledge
In the middle of work, we often need to find things out. We need answers. Or even try to understand the best way of doing something. It's called the moment of need. Using Papermind you can discover collections of knowledge grouped by category and tags
- Convenience. No matter the time zone, everyone can refer to the knowledge base and access what they need. Papermind makes it easy to find what you need because it supports organized content for you with categories and tags. Oh, and you can always search.
- Adding knowledge is as simple as dragging and dropping images and starting to write.
- Keep your own notes. Make notes and share them with your entire team or keep them just for you.
- Create transparency. Capture all the things a new hire needs to know but maybe hesitant to ask. Use the 30 day remote onboarding plan, or create your own Employee Handbook. You can choose these from the template library.
- Save time. Move away from a verbal way of onboarding new hires to systemizing and documenting it all. Create templates so that everyone has access to the best practices and procedures and can collaborate with others.
Conveniently organize and share files.
Imagine one place on your desktop for all your files, media and external links with seamless integration with Slack. Papermind lets you organize files so everyone has access and can share with each other in Slack when you need to.
- Create efficiency. Drag and drop all files your teams needs in one central place. Search and filter by file type, tags or categories to locate files more efficiently.
- Stay up to date. Well organized knowledge and files mean team members can get on the same page, fast. Link to online files via a URL, create collections of links to files stored in your Google Drive or Dropbox repository.
- Stay Productive. One location for all your files means your team will be sharing the latest version.
Connect with all your remote and onsite teams
Want hassle-free news, articles and announcements? Put an end to your email newsletter that nobody reads. Share what's happening, post a quick update, or amplify your employee brand and tell stories about your remote and onsite employee journeys. Share your news in Slack channels or directly with team members in seconds.
- Reduce email overload. Free your team from the email newsletter with internal news that you can share directly to teams in Slack.
- Elegant, simple to use. Internal communication that makes you look good.
- Boosts employee engagement. Drag and drop media. Create internal comms that inspire a sense of belonging, shared purpose, and identity.
- Shuffle back in time. Now, you can go back in time and see previous versions of your knowledge at any time.
Templates - Use ours or make your own
Employees can start using templates straight away with no effort. Discover and customize meeting notes, onboarding plans, product plans, design briefs, and more. Or create templates like sales scripts, customer service guides, and product management checklists for your teams. You get the idea. It's like your whole team's memory in one place and seamlessly integrated with Slack.
- Improve customer resolution time. Provide all your tacit knowledge that you've learned over time. Like how to handle a crisis situation or who to escalate it with.
- Consistency. Keep everyone on the same page. Provide consistent guidelines on the best practice to execute and perform tasks.
- Create efficiency. Organize knowledge so you can quickly pinpoint what you need fast.
Connect your people
Papermind makes it easy to create social cohesion and build community across your hybrid culture. Write and share team-wide interests in food, music, movies, or WFH memes. You can create a community on anything you think others will be interested in...like PIZZA! Or you can create awareness about 'cause for good' campaigns that your company is taking part in. It all might seem frivolous, but all these small things positively impact positive minded teams and foster engagement.
- Encourages an environment of open communication and feedback.
- Create more powerful bonds - with remote and onsite teams
- Get to understand how each other works - reinforce your people's sense of purpose and inspire new ideas.
You've got so much knowledge to share and so do the people in your team. Access to knowledge shouldn't be complicated. Learning new things shouldn't take you away from your work. Learning should be interconnected with the way you communicate and work, with tools that you already use like Slack.
Papermind supports your team's knowledge. Because it should always be accessible right at the moment you need it. We believe in making learning part of everyday work. The need to learn, collaborate, and communicate is spontaneous. We can't anticipate when we will encounter a problem and need support.