Courses How To Setup An Internal Knowledge Base Lesson 4

Setting Up Your Knowledge Base

The world’s tallest building is the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, standing at 2,722 ft (829.8 meters) tall. Yup, that’s just shy of half a mile tall.

Source: Emporis: The World’s Tallest Buildings

When constructing a sky high building, it’s important that it rest on top of a solid foundation. The Burj Khalifa foundation is no exception. Its foundation contains over 192 piles drilled more than 164 ft (50 meters) into the ground. Those piles are reinforced with over 110,000 tonnes of cement. That’s the equivalent of 18 Olympic swimming pools full of concrete.

The foundation process started in January 2004, and the super structure (the parts of the building above the ground) wasn’t started until March 2005. Needless to say, it took some time to complete the foundation before they could start framing the building upwards

Developing a high-quality organizational plan for your internal knowledge base is just like building the foundation of a building. It takes some time to do before you can really start to see the progress, but the investment will allow you to build up your knowledge base with confidence.

Taking the time to spec out how to organize your knowledge well will make it easier to know where to put knowledge, which makes it easier for your teammates to navigate and find what you need without asking.

If you don’t have a ton of time to get setup, don’t fret. We’ve built Tettra’s search function to be pretty smart too. But it also helps to follow a few best practices when you’re getting started. Here are some tips from customers on how they structure their information:

General Setup 

Tettra is built on a three-tiered hierarchy: Categories > Folders > Pages. 

While the way you want to organize your information within this hierarchy is up to you, we’ve found the best ways to structure your account are either departmental, project based, topic based, or a mix of all three.

Structuring by department

A departmental structure means that you break down your categories by department within your org. For example, you could have categories for Marketing, Sales, Support, Engineering, and HR/Operations.

Once you’ve setup categories by department, you can break down folders within each category by a sub topic or team. 

Here’s an example structure for a Sales team:

  • 📒 Sales
    • 📁 Processes & Policies
      • 📄 What to do after closing a sale
      • 📄 Refund policy
    • 📁 Scripts
      • 📄 Outbound call script
      • 📄 Inbound call script
    • 📁 Personas
      • 📄 Marketing Mary
      • 📄 Owner Ollie

Pros:

  • Helps your team know exactly which folder to find relevant information
  • Makes it very clear which category to store a page in

Cons

  • Sometimes pages don’t fit into any category or are owned by multiple departments, which can cause arguments about where to store a page or create deferred responsibility
  • The same folder name can be used across two different teams, which can cause confusion 

Structuring by project or client

Structuring categories by project (or client) can be beneficial if you’re teams tend to work cross-functionally or don’t need access to everything else in the knowledge base often.

Some companies tend to do this for projects like weekly/monthly recurring meetings, competitive research, fundraising, testing, onboarding materials, or business development. You can also structure by client, with a category for each client and folders for each topic:

Here’s an example structure for a client-based approach:

  • 📒 Dunder Mifflin
    • 📁 Quarterly Client Reports
      • 📄 Q3 2019 Report
      • 📄 Q4 2019 Report
  • 📒 Stark Industries
    • 📁 Quarterly Client Reports
      • 📄 Q3 2019 Report
      • 📄 Q4 2019 Report
  • 📒 Cyberdyne Systems
    • 📁 Quarterly Client Reports
      • 📄 Q3 2019 Report
      • 📄 Q4 2019 Report

Pros:

  • Lets new teammates get ramped up on projects/clients quickly
  • Creates a more standardized sub-skeleton across categories

Cons:

  • Have to recreate each folder/page in each category
  • Doesn’t provide as much flexibility as other approaches

Structuring by topic

Finally, you can always organize by topic.

This tends to be most useful if you’re using Tettra with just a single team or you’re planning on only putting one type of information (e.g. an employee handbook) inside of Tettra.

  • 📒 Hiring
    • 📁 Sourcing
    • 📁 Interview Process
      • 📄 Scheduling interviews
      • 📄 Interviews questions
    • 📁 Offer
      • 📄 Offer Letter template
      • 📄 Welcome baskets
  • 📒 Onboarding
    • 📁 Tools & Accounts
      • 📄 Account setup checklist
      • 📄 The tools we use
    • 📁 Your First Day
      • 📄 Reading list
      • 📄 Getting to know your new teammates
  • 📒Planning & Decisions
    • 📁 Recurring meetings
      • 📄 Weekly team meetings
      • 📄 Monthly recaps
      • 📄 Quarterly all hands
    • 📁 Decisions Making & Goals
      • How we make decisions
      • How to set goals
  • 📒 Mission & Culture
    • 📄 Our Mission
    • 📄 Operating Principles

Pros:

  • Allows for a deeper hierarchy structure
  • Makes it clear which folder to use to learn about a specific topic

Cons

  • Takes more time to think through topics
  • As your team grows, it’s likely you’ll need to move a departmental approach

Mixin’ it up

Don’t feel like you need to stick to one strict approach. Many teams use a mix of all three organizational structures.

In fact, we use all three approaches at Tettra (the company) for our own Tettra (the product). For example, we use categories for departments (Sales, Engineering, Support) and for Topics (Company Updates, Office & Ops, Weekly Planning).

Sometimes if a folder becomes really important, we’ll elevate it to the category level to make it easier to access. That’s exactly what happened to our Weekly Planning category, which started off as a folder inside of Company Updates.

There’s really one right way to organize your hierarchy for your Tettra account. Just do whatever feels right to start, and make tweaks as you go.

Your assignment

  • Create a “Tettra” category and move your “Why We’re Using Tettra” page into it
  • Build out some other categories by department, topic, project, or a mixture of all three