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How to Roll Out a Knowledge Management System

Kristen Craft | March 19, 2019

As any good manager knows, that way you frame your message is nearly as important as the message itself. A great idea poorly delivered can flop, while a weak idea – if framed in a compelling way – can win fans and backers. The psychologist and economist, Daniel Kahneman, demonstrated that people’s reaction to a piece of information varies greatly, based on how that info is framed.

Rolling out a new knowledge management system is no exception to this rule. By thinking intentionally about how you share this tool with others, you increase the chances of a successful rollout. This post will help you build a plan for rolling out your new wiki as smoothly as possible.

Preparing your Knowledge Management System

So, you picked a new knowledge system, (or you’re about to)? We certainly hope you picked Tettra; but even if you didn’t…congratulations! The next step is getting it ready for showtime. The goal is to give people a sense of who will use it, how they can use it, and for what types of information. Here are some ingredients that can make it shine on Day One:

Categories

The information within your Tettra account can be organized into different categories and sub-folders. Within this organizational structure, you can publish pages with any information you want to share. Though more advanced teams tend to use the search function to find information, categories can help orient people when they’re first getting to know Tettra.

 

Make some basic categories with intuitive names. For instance, you might create a folder for the different functions that will use Tettra, like “Customer Support”, “Product & Engineering”, and “Marketing”. If you’re using Tettra with a smaller group at your company, your categories might be oriented around specific types of work like “product specs”, “customer input”, and “feature launch planning”.

You can always adapt your categories later and move things in bulk if you discover the team prefers a different organizational approach. The important thing is to give people a clear sense of where they can go to peruse information that’s relevant to them. And again, over time, you’ll likely find that you just search for what you need, (either from Slack – via our Slack integration – or within Tettra directly). But in the meantime, categories will help acclimate people.

Overview Pages

With Tettra, you can choose what page people see upon first using our knowledge management software.

Create an overview page to orient people immediately. For instance, you might consider building a page called “Why we’re using Tettra” where you give people context about your goals. Alternatively, if you already have strong buy-in, you could create a page called “How to format things in Tettra,” showing people how to use headers, reference GitHub issues inline, or embed a Google doc. If you want to give people a sense of how you might use knowledge management software, consider documenting something yourself like your monthly priorities.

Example Pages

Give people some examples to reference. Create a few pages yourself, but don’t make them too perfect. You don’t want people to feel as though their pages need to be works of art. Try to publish pages on a variety of topics, so that people can see the breadth of info they can share. For instance, you might publish pages on some of the following topics:

  • Your monthly priorities
  • Contact info for team members
  • A list of company holidays
  • Common troubleshooting issues and solutions
  • Tentative product release schedules

Messaging

Again, how you say something is nearly as important as what you say. Rather than “winging it”, spend time thinking about how to message this roll out in the best way. Pinpoint the information people will most want to know, and document it. You can use our communication plan template to make sure you communicate the right things during roll out. You should even consider making a Loom video to get your message across in a more personal way. Be explicit about who will be using your new knowledge management software, and share examples of how they’ll use it.

You can even jumpstart things by privately asking a few people to document 1-2 things they know better than anyone else. Building these informal, internal evangelists sends a powerful message. By getting a few supporters involved early, you’ll create a feeling of momentum, encouraging others to get on board.

You might also consider asking department heads or functional group leads to lead the charge. They can encourage those on their team to jot down common processes and/or information that others might need. You don’t want these team leads to be “gatekeepers” of information; rather, it’s valuable to have them act in a more formal evangelist capacity.

Share Some Rules of Thumb

Documentation is a team sport; ideally, everyone gets involved because everyone is an expert in something. Help people feel more comfortable contributing to your knowledge management system by clarifying what they should share. We’ve gathered some easy rules of thumb from the thousands of teams that use Tettra to document their knowledge. For instance, Remington Begg from Impulse Creative suggests documenting any process with three or more steps.

By arming your team with some general guidelines like this, you’ll make it easier for them to contribute. We’ve gathered a list of wiki best practices from some of the most high-performance teams out there. Take a look, and consider sharing these best practices with your team when you roll out your new knowledge management software.

Last, we’ve published some resources that can help your team get up to speed with Tettra. Our course, “The Building Blocks of Great Documentation,” shares best practices on documentation, generally, as well as info specific to Tettra. It includes video tutorials, written guidance, as well as some short “assignments” for those who want to put what they’ve learned into practice.

The Sooner, the Better

Finally, it’s worth noting that the sooner you roll out your knowledge management system the better. Every day, your team learns new things, embarks on new projects, and systematizes new processes. Launching new knowledge management software when the team is still small is far easier than waiting until you have a massive group of people. The work and processes will only get more complex over time, so it’s useful to build up your “documentation muscle memory” early on.

Plus, you’ll reap major benefits by starting early. The whole team will have easier access to the info they need to do their jobs. People won’t have to interrupt each other’s trains of thought to ask questions, nor will you have to repeat yourself over and over again. Last, it makes the onboarding process quicker and easier for you and your new hires. By rolling out knowledge management software early, you’re investing in your team’s future success!

And if you’re moving over to Tettra from a different wiki, check out our post on Migrating from a Different Knowledge Management System. It offers tips on how to use our APIs to import content, as well as ideas for how to reference material that already lives elsewhere.