People say that content is king.
No wait, data is king.
Or should we really say video is king, considering the new online trends?
What’s more important, a good product or a killer marketing campaign?
When you think about the key to success, in any field, you can find a lot of prerequisites. Things you need to take into account.
Not to mention, experts that tell you their magic formula are a dime a dozen.
But there’s one underlying feature to all of those: knowledge.
Knowledge makes great content, data, and videos. Knowledge helps you create a killer marketing campaign, and refine a product until it’s disruptive.
Knowledge is really king. And that’s why you need to harness its powers.
Whether we’re talking about complex processes that help you be more efficient or trade secrets, having a knowledge base is fundamental to achieving your full potential.
And that’s why you need Knowledge Management Software.
What is Knowledge Management Software?
You can define it in a lot of ways. Basically, Knowledge Management Software is software that helps you collect, store and access information.
It helps you create an encyclopedia for your business, project or idea.
But unlike Britannica, it’s editable, shareable and easier to navigate.
Technically speaking, a Knowledge Management Software (KM software) is a part of a larger Enterprise content management software.
So for example, Hubspot offers CRM (Customer Relationship Management) software, which helps big online businesses keep track of their customers.
On top, they also offer services for knowledge management, both being part of a content management ecosystem suited for big enterprises.
That doesn’t mean everyone should jump and buy an integrated enterprise content solution.
It’s called enterprise because it only helps if you’re a big organization, with tons of customers, but tons of employees as well.
You should, however, consider a knowledge management solution if you want a hub for all of your information.
If you need an asset that outlines your complex processes, philosophy, procedures and the reasoning behind them, a KM software will help create that hub.
So now that you know what a KM software does, what are its benefits?
Well, knowledge management is extremely important if you work with relatively complex processes and if you need to pass crucial knowledge to partners and new team members.
That’s why one of the benefits of KM software is incentivizing personalized interactions. When you have a new partner or employee onboard, you don’t need to take them through the ropes.
You can refer them to your knowledge base, automate the tedious part of the collaboration, and then have a meeting to discuss specific details.
A knowledge base also helps you offer better support.
If you have a hub with all the details about your product, including known bugs and processes for troubleshooting, customer support agents can provide much better service to the customers that need it.
It doesn’t end here.
A knowledge base ensures streamlined communication.
Decision-makers won’t be bothered to give repetitive explanations, because general pointers are all outlined in a knowledge base. Meetings can be focused on solving issues, not struggling to identify them.
That also means you get decluttered management.
You get more time to focus on developing a great product because minor queries and decisions don’t have to go through you.
All of those apply if you wrote a knowledge base with clear procedures and explanations in place.
We can’t promise you that. It all depends on you.
And knowledge management software will only aid you in that pursuit.
But that’s the thing - without the best knowledge management software, it’s much harder to ensure you get a valuable knowledge base.
So your KM software choice is important.
But it can get confusing. There are a lot of options on the market, everyone integrates with everything and there are as many proprietary technologies as there are tools to buy.
How do you navigate this landscape?
What You Should Look For
First, always follow the best practices when choosing any software. That is, make a choice according to your needs in terms of pricing, niche and desired features.
You should also take reviews into account.
Extra points if a software has positive reviews from people in your industry.
But beyond the basic stuff…
Here’s what you should take into account.
First, there’s the ability to aggregate content from different sources. A knowledge base is not just project documentation. It covers that, and much more, like procedures, rules and the reasoning behind them.
Things that you may already have, in one form or another.
Or things that you can extract from different sources.
Moreover, even if you do have a knowledge base created in one place, you’ll need to update it.
That means navigating information from all types of documents, emails, even chat messages or spreadsheet reports.
So you need a way to centralize information from different sources.
That means you should always check for the ability to aggregate information.
If you’ve got that covered, always check to see if the KM software has taxonomies.
That means a way to categorize information.
Easy navigation is perhaps the most important aspect of a good knowledge base. If you have a ton of information scattered all over the place and people can’t access it easily, your knowledge hub won’t help too much.
So always be on the lookout for tags and categories.
Similarly, knowledge management solutions should enable some form of search.
These two go hand in hand because a great search engine needs some form of tags.
If a KM software won’t allow integration with a search mechanism or doesn’t have an in-house search feature, don’t go for it.
You’ll have a neatly structured, categorized knowledge base that doesn’t help people when they need it the most because they can’t find something quickly.
The best knowledge management software also features great navigation.
That means you can organize your content into subsections and give it a decipherable structure. It also means you can easily browse through those sections, both when writing and when editing it.
Lastly, the best KMS should have some form of collaboration.
It’s important because writing a knowledge base is much harder if you try to do it all alone. For example, you might want to hire a technical writer to take care of software documentation.
Even if you do choose to be a one-man show (and if that’s the case, definitely check our Tips On Writing Software Documentation) you might still need other people to work on your knowledge base further down the line.
You might want customer support agents to help improve your knowledge hub, especially if you’re in a startup environment.
You might want a consultant to help you improve your procedures.
You might want to outsource parts of your business processes.
In all of these cases, a knowledge hub needs to be collaborative.
So those are the requirements.
Go out there and find the best tool for you.
You don’t have to do that, we already compiled a list of the best for you.
The Best Knowledge Management Software
Before you read our top picks, remember that your situation may differ.
Based on your company size, other software used, industry and objectives, you may need a different software.
So yeah, this is a roundup, but that doesn’t mean our number 1 pick will be right for everyone.
Just skim through them and see what fits.
If you need the all-in-one solution, we’ve got you covered.
Archbee has features that help you create, edit, share and navigate a knowledge base. It meets all the criteria mentioned above, and at $15/month (with 5 team members included) it also has the best pricing on this list.
Knowledge management includes efforts to create documentation, wikis, and even meeting minutes.
You’ll need to integrate all of these in a knowledge base.
And you can create them all in the same interface, with Archbee.
Onna is pretty different from Archbee.
First of all, one of its main perks is that it has big data analysis.
Which means this will only fit your needs if you have a big enterprise and you need to process a lot of information.
But perhaps even more important, Onna isn’t a fully-fleshed knowledge management system.
It’s more like a catalyst for centralizing information.
It lets you index data from a bunch of platforms, which means you should use this tool if you already have base set-up somewhere and need a reliable way to centralize and analyze your data.
It’s got decent search and collaboration tools too, but it won’t come cheap.
It’s $250/month for a workspace, and added to that you’ll pay $25 for each processed GB of data. It’s an interesting pricing scheme, but it’s clearly only suited for big corporations.
If you feel like your support team needs a win, Guru might be it.
It’s similar to Onna, but there’s a catch.
Their main USP is that support representatives receive real-time information suggestions through AI.
Moreover, since this is AI, Guru will get better the more you use it, because they implement machine learning. For every faulty suggestion, Guru understands it needs to deliver better, and it adapts.
By extension, this system can also be adapted to help a sales team improve their performance. At least if you’re selling complex products.
Moreover, the pricing is a big forte.
For teams smaller than 10, it’s completely free, so you can go ahead and give it a try if you need to improve your support.
If you have more than 10 team members, it’s going to cost $7 per user, each month for the Starter plan.
The problem is that it doesn’t offer too much in terms of general documentation, so it falls a bit behind the others.
Hubspot is a behemoth in the online world.
They offer a free CRM that can really power-up your business, but their blog posts and free courses have really brought Hubspot at the forefront.
Besides these features (and many others), they also offer the ServiceHub.
It’s a fully-fleshed knowledge management software, but they don’t try to serve everyone in the market.
Hubspot’s ServiceHub is great if you want to create a knowledge base on your website, to help customers troubleshoot on their own.
The problem is, this won’t come cheap.
The ServiceHub will cost you $400/month, so it’s a pretty steep jump from the other tools.If you do need knowledge management software, there are cheaper alternatives that can accomplish the same thing.
So I’d suggest only going for the ServiceHub if you’re already a paying customer of Hubspot and want to have as many tools as possible in the same place.
Sabio is really good for improving knowledge base navigation, both for you and your customers.
They have an interesting feature, called Tree. With it, Sabio links to relevant articles and suggests them to everyone reading a certain piece.
It’s a unique take, and if you don’t feel comfortable with the navigation on your current knowledge base, it may be worth a shot.
On top, they’re growing strong, always bringing out new perks and features, so it may be interesting to pay attention to this up and coming tool.
Not to mention, it’s pretty cheap. Their lowest tier will only cost you $8/team member once you pay for a whole year.
But it still can’t match the features on display from its competitors.
And it’s not the cheapest option.
Not Sure What To Choose?
Well, knowledge management is not a simple field. Buying a KM software is not like getting a subscription to Netflix, you need to keep a lot of things in mind.
If you want the easy way out, Archbee’s got you covered on all fronts.
If you want to dig in some more, search for testimonials, ask around and always keep your scope and needs in mind.
Do you think knowledge management is important?
If yes, how do you manage your resources?
Is there anything you might need from a KM tool that was not offered by the ones mentioned here?