Almost every company has its own set of internal documents and notes that are constantly being updated by project managers and employees.
I cannot express how many times I lost myself with shared Google Docs, Evernote reminders, Dropbox shared file emails, and how it was hard to track down those important documents in my older emails.
Could you please check out that document which I’ve shared with you last week?
This question was asked numerous times during the meetings – and I bet you have heard it a lot as well.
Can you imagine a way to access those documents easily, in one place, without having to look back and dig trough your inbox? Let me show you how…
All of Your Company’s Documents In A Private Knowledge Center
While attending one of the KISSMetrics’ webinars which I wrote about previously, I got the chance to learn about Matt Kamp who is a Director of Strategic Partnerships at Influence & Co.
During the webinar he talked in-depth about how his company uses a knowledge management system to store all the important information about company’s key leaders, customers, current industry slangs and social mentions (these are just one of the many examples which he noted).
While this is not the first time I heard about this system and why is it useful, about two months ago I had the chance to create a similar system which utilizes slightly different knowledge center approach for one of my own startup projects.
So all of this pushed me to explain two different versions of the Knowledge Center System which you can create easily for your own company in order to have a streamlined, automated solution for all your team’s guides, tutorials or shared documents.
Click on the links below to learn more:
- The Knowledge Center (Free Internal Website for Your Company)
- The Knowledge Management Template (Free Ready-Made Excel Sheets)
1. How To Create A Free Knowledge Center For Your Company
Having an internal company knowledge center can be extremely helpful for you and your team to access every shared document easily and quickly.
Before we start, let me explain how this approach works and what it is – in a nutshell, it’s a WordPress website which allows your employees to quickly create and post a tutorial (or a document) on a shared alphabetically stored page, without having to tackle the WordPress back-end. Oh, and it has a live search too.
Why is this useful? Here’s a quick example – let’s say that there is a How- To Guide which your developer wrote for the app that he made for your marketing team.
As a manager you will automate this by directing your developer to create a Google Doc with the tutorial and share it with the marketing team — or you will forward his guide to the marketing team’s email.
Now cue few weeks forward, questions from your marketing team started piling up on how to use more advanced features of this app or why someone can’t login properly.
So naturally you would tell your developer to organize a meeting with a marketing team to solve their issues and explain again on how to use this app.
Where was that How-To Guide again?
The other solution to all of this would be to send a message like this – “Please access our Knowledge Center and search for the guide in there”.
And suddenly you just saved huge amount of your team’s precious time.
So if you like this approach, let’s get started on setting this up:
1.1 Basic Setup and Protecting Your Website
1) Register a subdomain on one of your domains and make it easy to type (and remember), for example teamcenter.yoursite.com
2) Setup and install WordPress.
3) Install a theme of your choice, or use the default WordPress one. For this tutorial purposes I’ll be trying out the free Coeur Theme from the WordPress Theme Directory.
4) Go to Settings > Discussion and un-check the following:
- Attempt to notify any blogs linked to from the article
- Allow link notifications from other blogs (pingbacks and trackbacks)
- A comment is held for moderation
- Comment author must have a previously approved comment
5) Make sure that the “Users must be registered and logged in to comment” checkbox is checked on. After all the above is done, click Save Changes.
6) We need to hide this website from the public eye by installing a membership plugin. For this tutorial purposes I’ll use a free Page Security & Membership plugin.
Quick Tip: If you don’t want to use this plugin, just do a quick search like this at the WordPress Plugin Directory and you’ll find a lot of similar plugins to this one.
7) Once you’ve installed and activated the plugin, go to Settings > Page Security and check the “Send anonymous users to login screen” checkbox next to the Force Login.
8) Scroll down to the “Global Security Features” section and click on the “Protect the entire website” checkbox and save your changes.
9) Go to Groups > Add New and create a group for one of your company departments – let’s use “Marketing” as an example. I’ll add another one called “Design”.
10) Add one of your employees by going to Users > Add New. I’ll add “JohnDesigner” as an example.
11) Now go to Users > All Users and click on the user which you just made.
Then scroll down to the Group Membership section, select the group (Design in this example) and click Add to Group. Finally, click the Update User button to save your changes.
1.2 Installing Additional Plugins
Let’s install and activate some plugins that are required so the whole knowledge center works properly. And don’t worry, we’ll configure some of those plugins later.
Install and activate these plugins:
1.3 Creating Pages
Now that we have your new website safe and secure and configuration plugins in place, let’s get working on the actual content.
1) Create a page which will be used as a central page for Knowledge Center where all your posts will be listed by alphabetical order.
So, go to Pages > Add New and name it “Knowledge Center”. While editing the page, switch to the Text tab then copy and paste the code below in that page and publish it.
This is how your new page will look like at the moment:
2) Now let’s add a set of special pages so your employees can post new content. Go to Pages > Add New and name that page “New Post“. While editing the page, switch to the Text tab then copy and paste the code below in that page and publish it.
3) Create another page called “Dashboard” and by using the same method like mentioned above, paste this code into the page and publish it.
4) Create a page called “Edit Post” and paste the code below into it.
All set! Now let’s go to the next part…
1.4 Creating Categories
You’ll need these categories in order to properly organize your company’s guides and tutorials, and you can always create new ones as your Knowledge Center grows.
For example you can create Marketing, SEO, Content, Design or Support categories. Let’s create Content category to try it out:
1) Go to Posts > Categories and type in “Content” in the Name input field.
2) Click the Add New Category button.
Repeat the same process when you want to add a new category.
1.5 Important Plugin Setup Steps
Before we move onto the next step, let’s setup few important things really quick – inside WordPress dashboard, go to WP User Frontend > WP User Frontend > Others tab.
Make sure that Edit Page and Admin area access are set up like in the screenshot below, and click Save Changes button.
Now go to the “Frontend Posting” tab, and under Post Status choose Draft and click on the Save Changes.
Once it’s saved you’ll need to repeat the same step again with a small change – under Post Status now choose Publish and click on the Save Changes button.
Note: We’re doing this as a small “hack” to prevent the plugin from glitching.
1.6 Setting Up Navigation
1) Go to Appearance > Menus and click the “Create new menu” link.
2) Enter “Main Navigation” as the menu’s name and click the Create Menu button.
Note: Make sure to select the “Primary Menu” checkbox in the Menu Settings section (the checkbox might be named differently depending on the theme you are using).
3) On the left side select New Post, Dashboard and Knowledge Center pages and click the Add to Menu button.
4) Again, on the left side, choose the Custom Links section and enter the content like pointed out below. Then click the Add to Menu button.
5) Choose the Categories section and add the Content category which you’ve created previously.
6) As a last step, drag and drop the content category below the “Categories” menu like so:
Click the Save Menu button and we are all set. Congrats, you have your own Knowledge Center now! Let’s try it out, shall we?
1.7 Trying Out Your New Knowledge Center
After all this hard work, your finished product will look something like this:
Now let’s say that you have a set of rules on how to approach the writing of PR posts that are published on your company’s blog. You can create a guide with this rules so everybody on your team can follow them properly.
1) Click on the New Post.
2) Under Post Title, enter “Content Guidelines for PR Posts”.
3) Under Category, select “Content”.
4) Under Post Content, enter the actual content 🙂
5) Click the Submit button.
Now go to the Knowledge Center page and you’ll see your post automatically added to that page!
Let’s look for other features which you’ve added – try clicking on the Dashboard link in the navigation.
Through this page you’ll be able to see all the posts which you’ve published – you can also edit them without going into WordPress Dashboard or delete them.
As a final feature, if you click on the Categories link in the navigation you’ll be able to list all the posts from a specific category. This is a standard WordPress feature but I usually like to add it to the Knowledge Center sites for better organization.
1.8 Additional Things That You Can Do
This is just a basic rundown setup of a Knowledge Center website. You can add widgets, social feeds or anything else you come up with — feel free to test it out and let me know how it goes in the comments below!
One other thing — by tackling the WP User Frontend plugin’s settings, you can allow your employees to attach documents to their posts, add a WordPress Visual editor to your posts, and much more.
Don’t want to do this all by yourself?
If you are interested in a ready-made Knowledge Center with custom branding, professional design and additional features tailored to your company’s needs, contact me here for a pricing estimate and I’ll be glad to help you out.
Now let’s move on to the different version of knowledge management systems…
2. Free Knowledge Management Template
As I previously explained, once I learned about Influence&Co. and their blog, I immersed myself in it and found lots of valuable information in there.
Among all that great content was their free Knowledge Management Template which you can download here (free email sign-up required).
Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with this company neither this is a promoted post – I’m just sharing content which I’ve tried out myself and found to be really valuable for my readers (and free).
How You Can Use This Template For Your Company
I would strongly suggest for you to start first writing down everything related to your company’s culture, then build up from there.
Explain your goals, your missions, and your beliefs on how your company approaches client’s needs or problems.
In a nutshell, use it as a form of a company diary and try to be open and transparent as much you can – this will engage your team to connect with you more and to believe more in what are you trying to achieve with your mission.
And make sure that you are adding content in there regularly – remember, always lead by example.
How I Used This Template For My Personal Notes
After downloading it, first I made a duplicate of this template to use it for my personal notes.
One of the tabs that I started using extensively was the “Lessons Learned” tab (I’m a big believer in learning-by-doing as written in my About page).
So here’s are few things which I added:
Source: The 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene
Content: Never compare yourself to competition too much – to achieve great success there is no place for envy. Always focus on helping people around you, and everything else will follow along.
Source: My Late Mother
Content: We sometimes forget that we have only one life, and that one life can abruptly end. Take a step back, look at your family and all that you had accomplished so far – but never stop fighting to achieve to be the most powerful and strongest version of yourself.
Yeah I know – I’m using this with a psychological approach rather than for strictly business related notes, but things like those have helped me a lot to work better (and smarter).
I would love to hear how you used these knowledge management systems — let me know in the comments or via Twitter and let’s share some more examples to help out others!
Inspiring Companies Mentioned In This Article
Influence & Co. – Beside offering executive branding and content project services, they have a really great blog focused on content marketing, thought leadership and other useful topics. They also offer free downloadable white papers so be sure to check them out.
Siege Workshop – One of my startup projects which is aimed towards selling affordable, fast and customer-oriented WordPress themes that can be used easily by anyone. We have an Early Adopter Program open for folks who are willing to offer their insight (and get special discounts along the way) so we can create themes that you will actually use 🙂
Image Credits by PicJumbo, you guys rock.