Originally published on October 31, 2016

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Seventh in a series of 50 Knowledge Management Components (Slide 14 in KM 102)

Documentation: user guides, manuals, and help files that allow users to read about what is expected of them, the people, processes, and tools available to them, and how to use all of these in order to share, innovate, reuse, collaborate, and learn

Complete and effective documentation supports training, communications, and user assistance. It is a good way to demonstrate knowledge sharing and reuse, and allows users to learn about all elements of a KM program.

The types of documentation to provide include big picture documents, user’s guides, administrator’s guides, policies and procedures, and knowledge sharing documents.

1. Big Picture Documents: These are conceptual or overview documents. They help users understand the importance of knowledge management and their role in making it succeed. For those interested in a high-level view of knowledge management, why things work the way they do, and what resources are available.

Examples:

  1. Strategy and Vision: defines the Top 3 Objectives, the KM Strategy, and a vision for how things should work
  2. Program Governance: describes how the KM program is governed
  3. Roles: defines the roles of KM leaders, project leaders, and knowledge assistants
  4. Priorities: defines the KM team’s priorities for the year
  5. Expectations: states the importance of KM to the organization and specifies the responsibilities of all professionals and managers
  6. Getting Started: explains basic KM concepts, what resources are available, and how to learn more
  7. Initiatives Inventory: lists all KM initiatives in the organization with sponsoring organizations, responsible individuals, and links to web sites
  8. Overview: provides highlights of the KM program, details on all components, and screen shots of and links to all relevant web sites
  9. Architecture: explains the structure of the KM environment, the standard taxonomy, how content is contributed, and how it is searched for
  10. Insights: provides an overview of the topic of Knowledge Management, including definitions, models, process maps, checklists, and industry examples

2. User’s Guides: These are written to help users understand how to do something. Knowledge assistants can refer users to these when providing support.

Examples:

  1. FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions): answers to the most typical questions about finding content, sharing, asking questions, tools, external access, communities, collaboration, archiving, expectations, time reporting, contacts, documentation, rewards, training, and support
  2. How to Collaborate: describes the processes and technologies that are used to encourage employees to collaborate and participate in communities
  3. Communities: explains how to create, build, sustain, and participate in communities
  4. Face-to-face Knowledge Sharing: describes why this is important, different types, guidelines, examples, suggestions, and pitfalls to avoid
  5. People Guides: explains how to use a particular KM people component, e.g., knowledge help desk, measurements, or incentives
  6. Process Guides: explains how to use a particular KM process, e.g., capture, reuse, or lessons learned
  7. Tools Guides: explains how to use a particular KM tool, e.g., team space, repository, or threaded discussion
  8. How to Ask for Help: describes the key elements of a successful request for help for those posting a question to a threaded discussion or sending an email message seeking help to a large distribution list
  9. How to Record Time: explains how time spent on KM activities should be reported in the organization’s labor tracking system
  10. How to Track Accomplishments: describes how to track KM accomplishments in order to take credit for them during performance reviews

3. Administrator’s Guides: These are written to help administrators and knowledge managers understand how to do something.

Examples:

  1. Managing Disk Usage in Team Spaces: helps team space administrators be efficient in the use of disk storage
  2. Portal Administrator’s Guide: addresses the most common issues faced by portal administrators
  3. Threaded Discussion Moderator’s Guide: describes the role and duties of moderators
  4. Threaded Discussion Administrator’s Guide: details every aspect of the software used for threaded discussions
  5. Metadata Guide: defines the standard metadata used for documents stored in repositories

4. Policies and Procedures: Details on standard processes which are required of users. These may be part of an official document repository, in which case, they are linked to from the KM documentation web page.

Examples:

  1. Collaboration Policy: defines the policy for how teams are to collaborate
  2. Knowledge Capture and Reuse Policy: defines the policy for how knowledge is to be captured and reused
  3. Knowledge Capture and Reuse Procedure: details the steps to follow in support of the policy
  4. Records Management Policy: defines the policy for how the organization’s business records are to be managed
  5. Archiving Procedure: details the steps to follow in support of the records management policy’s archiving rules

5. Knowledge Sharing Documents: These are written to capture tacit knowledge and convert it into explicit knowledge.

Examples:

  1. White Papers: brief publications about trends, insights, and knowledge nuggets
  2. Methodologies and techniques: brief publications sharing tips, tricks, and how-to advice
  3. Case Studies: in-depth reviews of actual practices
  4. Seminars and Conferences: materials received at or presented at industry events, training courses, or symposia
  5. Customer-Ready Materials: presentations designed for external audiences

Resources

  1. Writing for the Web by Jakob Nielsen
  2. Is it right to expect everyone to write the right way?
  3. What we have here is a failure to communicate
  4. Word Usage
  5. How to write great documentation: links

Written by

Knowledge Management Author and Speaker, Founder of SIKM Leaders Community, Community Evangelist, Knowledge Manager https://sites.google.com/site/stangarfield/

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