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Migrating Your Knowledge Management System

Kristen Craft | March 20, 2019

Whether you realize it or not, your team leverages some sort of knowledge management system. Some use a formal documentation tool, while other teams use more generalized methods to manage information. This might include Google Docs, Dropbox files, Microsoft Word docs stored locally, or even physical notebooks. Perhaps you rely on just your brain as a knowledge management system. (It’s a pretty sophisticated one, though prone to errors at times!)

We manage our knowledge in a systematic way because we know that it helps us work smarter. Documentation helps us remember things and minimizes recall errors. We write things down because it means we don’t have to recreate the wheel every time we embark on a similar task. It also helps when other people on our team want to know what we’re working on, how a campaign performed, or what steps went into a process.

Migrating to a New Knowledge Management System

Whatever system you use, you’ll likely outgrow it someday. Teams grow, needs change, and new challenges crop up. Those of us who rely on our brains and memories turn to a more foolproof, reliable system. Those who use physical notebooks bump into issues when they want to search or share information.

Though Google Drive and Dropbox files are easier to search and share, they suffer from shortcomings. Users of these systems struggle when things become disorganized or subject to version-control problems. At some point, most teams realize they could work more efficiently and effectively with a more robust knowledge management solution.

And yet, migrating to a new system can feel daunting. Not only do you need to transfer over the information you’ve already documented, but you also need to develop new muscle memory, metaphorically speaking. You need to learn how to use your new system and help others learn it too. You need to build new habits, so that you’re documenting things in your new system as easily as you did in the old one. Read on for tips on how to navigate this migration successfully.

Five Steps for Migrating to a New Knowledge Management System

Whether you’re a large team or tiny, it’s worth thinking about how you manage a big change. Given that a company wiki holds some of your most important information and processes, changing wikis is – by definition – a big change.  These tips seek to facilitate the transition of information and mindsets.

  1. Knowledge Management Systems are not one size fits all

Different teams have different needs. We find that smaller teams often prioritize a simple, elegant user experience over lots of bells and whistles. Larger teams, on the other hand, can require a broad set of features and customizations. Spend time identifying the requirements that are most important to you.

Our post on How to Choose a Knowledge Management System can help you navigate this decision. We outline some of the most important considerations when choosing a new company wiki. For instance, product and engineering teams value different integrations. A product or engineering team might need a GitHub integration, for example, while an HR team might need integrations with Gusto or Workable.

  1. Reference, don’t recreate information that lives in Google Docs, GitHub, Word files, and pdfs

If you already have knowledge documented in Google Docs, GitHub, or other files types, consider referencing them, rather than recreating them. For example, you can make an inline reference to a GitHub issue and can see useful meta-information on the page without ever leaving Tettra.

You can also embed a Google Doc on a Tettra page. When you update the original file in Google Docs, the embedded version will stay up to date. Your team can continue using Google Docs to collaborate and edit, while Tettra can serve as the hub for and a single source of truth about which version to use.

Finally, Tettra makes it easy to attach and embed whatever file type you’re using. Whether it’s a YouTube video, a pdf, or a gif, the Tettra wiki will search the file names of any attachments. Again, Tettra serves as a hub, so that you can reference existing information, rather than recreating it when you migrate to your new knowledge management system.

  1. Use an API to bring over your knowledge

Beyond Google Docs and locally-stored files, some teams migrate to Tettra from systems like Confluence, Guru, or Notion. In many of these cases, teams want to bring over years’ worth of content from their old wiki. It’s a pain (not to mention time-consuming) to copy and paste information from one system to another.

When you adopt new knowledge management software, explore leveraging its APIs to import the knowledge you’ve already documented. For instance, Tettra makes it easy to migrate information en masse. Our Import API lets you create pages and populate those pages from existing content you have elsewhere. Many Tettra customers have imported hundreds, or even thousands of pages at once, using this method.

  1. Communicate the Why/How/What to Gain Buy-In

It’s not just about bringing your existing content over. You also need to get the people on your team on board. Our post on How to Roll Out a Knowledge Management System can help you communicate your message in the best possible way. We offer tips on designating directly responsible individuals, as well as how to foster informal evangelists. You can also use our Communication Plan Template to convey your message in a thorough, organized way.

  1. Prepare for pushback & gather the right data

Let’s face it: change can be hard. And some people are more open to change than others. You may find that certain people on your team are resistant to the idea of migrating to a new system. They may question what was wrong with the old way of doing things. By recognizing that some pushback is inevitable, you can prepare yourself with the right info.

Some teams conduct a quick survey before migrating to a new knowledge management system. You could ask your team questions such as “how much time do you spend in a given week trying to find info or documents you need?” or “how many times/week do you repeat yourself?” to get a feel for how much time you’re wasting with your current organizational system. The answers to these questions can help you quantify the impact you expect your new wiki to have.

You can also share details about how your new knowledge management system will facilitate the onboarding process. Onboarding is one area where a good knowledge management system can have the biggest impact. Most teams take a month or more to train new people, and very few people feel that they’re actually good at it. By using a wiki like Tettra, you can equip your new hires with the right info. You’ll make important info more accessible, reduce onboarding time, and help them feel like confident, productive members of the team.

If you want to equip yourself with data, you could run a survey about the onboarding process. Consider asking existing employees how long it took for them to feel up to speed. Or ask managers how much time it takes to teach and train their new hires. You could even ask people to rate the current onboarding process on a scale of 1-10.

Skate Fast over Thin Ice

As much as possible, try to migrate people and info to your new system as quickly as possible. The worst case scenario would be to have multiple systems going at once, leading to even more confusion. Some people will push back, and others might resist the change, but don’t doubt your decision. Keep in mind that migrating to the right system is an investment in your team’s future success. With the right knowledge management system and the right information on hand, everyone will have greater access to the info they need to do their jobs well.