The case for building an internal knowledge base

The increasing number of specialized skills needed to do perform complex tasks in today’s modern world means our teams are getting bigger and bigger. With that growth comes increasing chaos unless you have a system for sharing knowledge and making decisions together.

Luckily, there’s an answer to manage the chaos. By fostering a culture of collaborative knowledge sharing, you can transform your team into a high performing unit that can adapt to new challenges and take advantage or new opportunities.

This kind of culture boosts efficiency, sets you up for high quality customer interactions, and ultimately helps boost retention and confidence on your team. Seems like a lofty claim? Let’s take a closer look.

Boosting Productivity

By taking the time to create an internal knowledge base (IKB) that your team can access when they have a question. A resource like this allows your teammates to:

  • Search for and find answers quickly without disrupting others, allowing for more focused, deep work by everyone through asynchronous communication
  • Quickly resurface and reuse the answers they find
  • Decrease the time it takes for them to fully onboard with your company
  • Create alignment across different teams allowing for better collaboration
  • … which ultimately enables you to make decisions faster

The benefits of an internal knowledge base don’t stop there though. Once you’ve optimized for a single source of truth, you should also notice your customers are receiving more consistent answers and shorter waiting times while your team searches for the information they need to pass along.

When your employees feel confident they’re using the most up-to-date resource, it helps them feel confident they’re performing their tasks correctly and gives them the power to surface when they can’t find the documentation they need.

By recognizing that capturing knowledge is a competitive advantage rather than a chore, you’ll also reduce the likelihood of important information being lost when team members decide to leave your company. If your employees buy into your culture of knowing sharing, all of that information will be preserved regardless of any company changes as questions get asked and answered.

Sometimes the most difficult step when building out a knowledge base is convincing your team of the need. But don’t worry, if you’re having a difficult time with that, we’ve got you covered!

To help you, below we built a calculator showing just how much money our team stands to save by setting up an internal knowledge base. We also put together a quick presentation you’re free to use and included a few stats below you can use to make your case for investing in a knowledge base software.

How to calculate the ROI of an internal knowledge base

Setting up an internal knowledge base can provide a serious return on investment (ROI) for any growing team. According to research conducted by McKinsey

  • The average knowledge worker spends 20% of their time searching for internal information or tracking down colleagues to help with specific tasks.
  • A searchable record of knowledge can reduce the time by up to 35% people spend looking for company information.

Assuming our team works 8 hours per day, then each person spends 1.6 hours looking for information each day. That’s an entire day lost per person each week. Extrapolated out over the course of a year, that’s 400 hours of lost time annually.

[8 hours per day] x [20% time searching for information] x [50 work weeks] = 400 hours per year

Now, that’s just one person. Multiple 400 hours by the number of people on your team, and you’re likely talking thousands, if not tens of thousands of lost hours of productivity. To figure out sunk cost, we just multiply by the average hourly rate of each team member. 

Let’s say you have 25 teammates, then using the formula: 

[400 hours] x [25 teammates] x [$30 per hour] = $300,000 per year

Setting up an internal knowledge base can reclaim up to 35% of that time. Even taking a conservative 10% savings is still a massive per year:

[400 hours x [10% time savings] x [25 teammates] x [$30 per hour] = $30,000 per year saved

Go ahead and try it using your own team size and salary below with this calculator template.

Presentation: The Case for Investing in an Internal Knowledge Base

Below is a presentation you can use to make the case for setting up an internal knowledge on your team. Please feel free to copy, edit, and share this presentation however you’d like.

Other stats and takeaways to make your case

“Organizations with a strong onboarding process improve new hire retention by 82% and productivity by over 70%. Companies with weak onboarding programs lose the confidence of their new teammates, making them more likely to quit in the first year.“
Source: Glassdoor The True Cost of a Bad Hire

Takeaway: Creating a repository of knowledge that new teammates can go to ask questions and find answers will help your long term employee retention and productivity. With today’s war for talent, keeping your team around longer will save money and make your team more productive.

“The time for new hires to achieve full productivity ranges from 20 weeks for professionals to more than 26 weeks for executives, but internal transfers get up to speed twice as fast as external hires.“
Source: MITSloan Review

Takeaway: Getting ramped with an organizations institutional knowledge matters for reaching peak productivity faster. Creating a centralized resource where a new external hire can absorb company knowledge everything they need to know will make your entire team more productive.

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