KM Improves Content Findability

Stan Garfield
5 min readOct 4, 2019

Originally posted 25-Oct-18 and 01-Nov-18 and 26-May-19

Once your KM program starts to gain momentum, you should never be satisfied with the status quo. Constantly evaluate it, solicit suggestions for improvement, and implement as many of them as possible. Your goal is to make all components of your program easier to use, more efficient, and more effective in order to yield even better results for your organization.

Take your ideas and submitted suggestions, implement them, and then iterate and repeat the cycle. Never stop doing this. One early KM program win (and big improvement that is usually very popular) is to make content easier to find. To do so, leverage multiple methods and multiple channels.

Here are some specific suggestions.

Part One

There are many ways to build a positive reputation for knowledge management within your organization. One is to provide content in multiple ways.

Offer these user interface elements:

  • Navigation
  • Search
  • Facets
  • Related (since you downloaded X, try Y)
  • A-Z Index
  • Tags
  • Bookmarks
  • Sorted by most visited, most liked, most reused, and newest

Offer these channels:

  • Intranet sites
  • Blogs
  • Mobile apps
  • Email subscriptions
  • Hardcopy subscriptions
  • RSS feeds
  • ESNs
  • Podcasts
  • Video

Take advantage of:

  • Mobile optimization
  • Photos
  • Podcasts
  • Video
  • Hashtags
  • External social media such as Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, SlideShare, etc.

Here are five suggested ways to make useful content easier to find.

  1. Make the search engine able to limit results by the date of the knowledge object. Defaults can be set to limit results to the last 90 days, one year, or whatever duration is desired. But it should be easy for users to change the date range to include older content in the search results.
  2. Add an “I reused this document” or “I found this useful” button, similar to a “Like” button but more specific, to all content. Encourage users to click on this button for content they were able to reuse.
  3. Allow content to be tagged with “recommended” or “good example” or “proven practice” by an authoritative source.
  4. Allow searching by date, tag attribute, most-liked by users, etc., and display at the top of the results list that content with the most “I reused this document” or “I found this useful” clicks, or the highest number of “recommended,” “good example” or “proven practice” tags by an authoritative source.
  5. Determine the topics of greatest importance to the organization, curate a list that can be searched and filtered, “pin” them to the top of results lists, and feed them as enterprise search “best bets,” with links to the content deemed to be the best for each key topic.

Beyond organic search results, you can intentionally provide content you know to be useful (option 5 listed above). To do so, determine the topics of greatest importance to the organization, curate a list of relevant content that can be searched and filtered, and feed the entries as enterprise search results. These can be in the form of curated answers: “best bets” (thumbnails and links only), authoritatively-badged content, or quick answers (more complete content plus links) for content deemed to be the best for each key topic. Results can also be dynamically generated using attributes, tags, sorts, filters, human interaction, etc.

The above is an excerpt from my book published by Lucidea Press, Proven Practices for Promoting a Knowledge Management Program, Chapter 9: “Improve Continuously”. Please also read my posts offering advice and insights drawn from many years as a KM practitioner.

Part Two

Making content easier to find is a big win. In Part One, I focused on user interface elements and channels, and introduced the idea of curated content and answers. Here is more about the content itself and how it can be organized for better findability.

How to choose what to provide.

  • Request submissions from content providers, but be selective in what you accept; some providers will submit and endless list of best bets, and not all of these will be worthwhile.
  • Match the existing intranet high-level navigation so that for each link in the top navigation and/or breadcrumbs, there is a corresponding quick answer.
  • Ask key contacts for each category what they consider important; contacts can be organizational leaders, thought leaders, subject matter specialists, community leaders, or knowledge managers.
  • Ask ESN groups and communities for suggestions, and also share the proposed quick answers there to get confirmation or changes.
  • Review enterprise search logs for the most searched-for terms and the most clicked-on search results.
  • Review web analytics for the most visited pages and downloaded documents.
  • Review websites and documents that are liked or tagged as useful by users.
  • Ask all help desks to provide the most frequent queries and replies.
  • Review queries posted in the ESN, email messages sent to distribution lists, and requests sent to official mailboxes; look for patterns of missing or hard-to-find content.
  • Review all published FAQs.

12 things to provide in enterprise search.

  1. Type-ahead search, autocomplete, incremental search, incremental find, find/filter as you type, or real-time suggestions — to save typing and match new searches to previous ones
  2. Best bets — pinned at the top of the results with thumbnails and links, highlighted to differentiate them from other results
  3. Authoritative recommendations — marked with special badges that can only be assigned to authoritative sources
  4. Quick answers — self-contained content that offers enough information to possibly avoid the need to click through to other sites
  5. Options to feed the search to the most relevant ESN group or to a help desk to get answers from real people
  6. Synonyms — closest matches from a curated thesaurus
  7. Closest matches from the intranet’s A-Z index
  8. Closest matches from the organizational hierarchy
  9. Closest matches from internal and external taxonomies
  10. Closest matches from user tags
  11. Related — since you downloaded X, try Y; since you visited A, try B
  12. Sorted by attributes:Most visited or downloadedMost likedMost reused — add an “I reused this document” or “I found this useful” button, similar to a “Like” button but more specific, to all content; encourage users to click on this button for content they were able to reuseMost tagged — allow content to be tagged with “recommended” or “good example” or “proven practice”Most recent

10 suggested categories for the curated list of quick answers, with examples.

  1. Internal organizational structure — Finance, Human Resources
  2. Formal taxonomy: industry or internal — Global Industry Classification Standard, enterprise taxonomy
  3. Products and Services — Android, Strategy & Operations Consulting
  4. Topics — security, supply chain management
  5. Industries — electronics, pharmaceuticals
  6. Clients — GE, US Government
  7. Partners — Ford, Microsoft
  8. Locations — Latin America, Detroit
  9. Specialties and Roles — project management, information architect
  10. Demographics — new hires, retirees

Lucidea Press has published my book, Proven Practices for Promoting a Knowledge Management Program, which offers advice and insights drawn from my career as a KM practitioner, including more tips on embracing technology to offer a great user experience.

See also:



Stan Garfield

Knowledge Management Author and Speaker, Founder of SIKM Leaders Community, Community Evangelist, Knowledge Manager