Your team members waste a lot of time waiting for information they need to do their jobs: More than five hours per week, according to a recent survey by Panopto and YouGov.
New hires spend, on average, more than 12 hours a week asking coworkers for help during their first month of onboarding.
Some waiting — especially for new employees — is unavoidable, of course. But if you're a company trying to maximize productivity (and profits), you need to make information as accessible as possible.
Knowledge-sharing platforms and knowledge-management systems facilitate the flow of information and expertise across your teams. Understanding the difference between the two tools will help you best equip your employees with technology that makes their jobs less frustrating and more productive. Knowledge-sharing platforms and knowledge-management systems are two tools that facilitate the flow of information and expertise across your teams. The terms are often used interchangeably, but they’re not the same. Some organizations are better served by the former, some the latter — many use both. Understanding the difference between knowledge-management and knowledge-sharing platforms will help you best equip your employees with technology that makes their jobs less frustrating and more productive.
What is a knowledge-management system?
A knowledge-management system (sometimes referred to as a knowledge base, wiki, or intranet) is a digital repository of valuable information that’s accessible 24/7. Its purpose is to empower people to self-serve information and free up knowledge-holders to work on more complicated tasks.
A knowledge base can be an internal or external (customer-facing) resource, providing answers to FAQs and easily resolved problems — for example, your return policy or product-troubleshooting tips. An internal wiki is available only to your team members and serves as a singular source of truth about your company and their employment — from benefits materials to on-the-job how-tos. The problem with many company wikis is that they’re simply information warehouses that are challenging to use and keep up to date because of:
- Navigational issues. Many wikis are organized by topic, with information embedded into folders that make it difficult to find what you’re looking for.
- Limited roles and permissions. For most users, material is available on a read-only basis. An error or outdated information can only be corrected by alerting an administrator (if the user can find one).
- Time restraints. Creating and updating content takes time away from daily work and generally goes unrewarded.
- No feedback. Users’ inability to leave questions or comments on entries means they have to go out of their way to find clarifying information. Meanwhile, contributors don’t know whether their entries are providing value to their teams at all.
According to a Deloitte survey, 29 percent of respondents indicated it was either “difficult” or “nearly impossible” to get the information they need from their company’s knowledge base. Those same respondents were also more likely than their peers to rate the value of the information in their knowledge base as “below average.” For a sizable piece of the workforce, knowledge bases actually hinder their ability to access the information they need to do their jobs.
It’s a vicious cycle that results in employees who don’t trust the information in your company knowledge base and therefore don’t use it. So the information that is there continues to grow stale as new technology is implemented and processes are improved. Meanwhile, your team members spend hours waiting for answers from colleagues — or reinventing the wheel.
Not ideal. This is particularly problematic for remote and hybrid workplaces: Offsite team members have less access to the company's internal knowledge sources and often have to solve problems on their own.
That’s why you need a knowledge-sharing platform.
Knowledge base vs. Knowledge-sharing platforms
People tend to use “knowledge base” and “knowledge-sharing platform” interchangeably, but while they are similar, they have slightly different uses. Some organizations are better served by the former, some the latter; many use both.
Let’s do a quick comparison.
Now let’s take a deeper dive into knowledge-sharing tools.
What is a knowledge-sharing platform?
A knowledge-sharing platform is a tool your employees use to actively exchange information in real-time or asynchronously. Like a knowledge base, it can also be used internally or to communicate with external stakeholders.
Knowledge-sharing systems run the gamut, from video- and screen-recording tools to instant-messaging platforms. Some of these platforms can also serve as their own knowledge bases, storing the information that comes through them or integrating with your existing wiki to create new entries. The best knowledge-sharing tools are interactive, enabling two-way communication to create feedback loops that make it easier to ensure the content is always accurate and up to date.
Scribe is a powerful knowledge-sharing tool that lets users create step-by-step guides in seconds. Scribe’s smart recorder simply captures a process while they work and turns it into marked-up documentation to share.
Scribe knocks down information silos with:
- Auto-generated guides. Scribe collects procedural know-how within the applications where users are already working. Users simply hit “record,” and Scribe automatically captures their digital activity and generates a guide with text instructions and screenshots — without disrupting their workflow.
- A tool everyone can use: Anyone on your team can contribute their expertise by creating a Scribe and adding it to the repository. They can also share content through a variety of formats and channels, such as email, link, or PDF.
- Immediate feedback: Subject-matter experts can see when their guides have been viewed, so they know whether their entries are providing relevant information to their teammates.
- Embedding into your knowledge base: Users can simply copy and paste a code snippet to embed Scribes within your company’s existing knowledge base or website. Then, whenever a Scribe is updated, it automatically syncs the current version everywhere it lives.
Scribe democratizes know-how by enabling anyone on your team to share information effortlessly. Our users typically enjoy a time savings of 30%.
Improve productivity and reduce turnover costs
According to the Panopto/YouGov survey, 81 percent of employees say they are “frustrated” when they can’t access the information needed to do their jobs — over a quarter of them say find the experience overwhelming.
What’s more, companies that understand the benefits of knowledge sharing are seen as more innovative and attractive employers, according to the latest Deloitte European Workforce Survey.
By implementing a knowledge-sharing solution like Scribe, you make information easily accessible to the employees who need it and enable your veteran workers to share their expertise in less time. Not only will you improve productivity and job satisfaction, but you'll also create a knowledge-sharing culture that attracts and retains top talent. And, of course, a better-informed workforce can deliver a superior customer experience to give your organization a competitive advantage.
Want to see how the Quality Assurance team at Learning Pool saves time and improves documentation consistency with Scribe? Check out the case study here!