Why Your Company Needs a Single Source of Truth

Andy Cook
January 30, 2020
Why Your Company Needs a Single Source of Truth

Most of us hate repeating ourselves. It wastes time and often shows the person we’re talking to wasn’t listening to us in the first place.

When writing code, programmers hate repeating themselves too. In fact, repeating code is so taboo there’s a common practice when programming to keep code DRY, which stands for Don’t Repeat Yourself.

There are a whole host of benefits to keeping code DRY:

  • It’s faster for new programmers to get ramped up in a new code base because there is just less to learn.
  • Easier to maintain because there’s only one file to edit when making a change.
  • Less prone to errors because there’s less of a chance different pieces of a program will break when integrating them together.

One of the main ways programmers keep code DRY is to use functions, which are essentially reusable commands that let programmers invoke a section of code without having to rewrite it from scratch each time. They’re a huge time savings because you can write code once, then use it again without investing more time.

Creating an internal wiki as a single source of truth lets you keep your team DRY and saves you a ton of time because you can document an answer once, then use it again later. It’s just like using functions, but for sharing knowledge.

An internal wiki doesn’t just store your company’s information for later reference in a single source of truth though. From slashing the number of questions your teammates ask you to smashing your company’s silos, documenting and storing all of your information and processes in one place provides many benefits for your business.

Read on to learn why your team needs a single source of truth. 

What Is a Single Source of Truth?

A single source of truth is a knowledge management principle. This concept states that you should document and store all of your information and processes in one place — like an internal wiki — so employees can easily find them. In turn, your team can leverage this info to perform more efficiently and effectively.

Why Your Company Needs a Single Source of Truth

Your team can easily find and use the optimal process for each project 

If your information and processes are scattered across multiple platforms, it’s not only harder for your team to find the optimal information for each project but it’s also hurting your bottom line.

In fact, according to Xenit, a document management platform, 49% of employees reported that they had trouble locating documents.

This prevalent problem can lose organizations that employ 1,000 people roughly $25 million dollars in lost productivity each year.

Fortunately, documenting and storing all of your information in an internal wiki means your team will know exactly where to find the right processes for each of your projects. 

But wrangling all this information is easier said than done. As software continues to eat the world, the amount of tools we’re using to get work done continues to rise as well.

According to Blissfully, a SaaS management platform, a typical company between 51-100 people uses 79 different apps.

Each team at your company could potentially use a different platform to store their information. Sales uses Salesforce. Engineering uses Github. Marketing uses HubSpot. That creates issues where teams can’t easily share information across departments.

Or perhaps your team’s knowledge is “all in one place” using a file sharing system like Google Drive or Dropbox. The problem with that is no one can ever find anything and documents can’t be trusted to be up to date as the singel source of truth.

Either way, it’s likely that your company’s processes are dispersed across dozens of tools and result in colleagues documenting processes that have already been recorded on a different platform in the past.

To reference your documents — instead of recreating them — and shed light on the information your colleagues need to succeed, consider investing in an internal wiki. After you pick your internal wiki, you can encourage all of your teams to document and store all of their information and processes in it through a company memo and new-hire training. 

Doing this will enable your team to learn how to use the optimal frameworks, tools, and processes for each of their specific problems as quickly as possible. Your team can make more progress faster when they can easily access all of the info they need. 

If your company’s existing information is already scattered throughout multiple platforms, don’t fret. With Tettra, you can aggregate information from Google Docs, Dropbox, GitHub, and more applications all into your internal wiki. 

Your internal wiki can answer repetitive questions 

Another benefit of storing all of your information in one place is slashing the number of questions your employees ask and the amount of time you spend answering them.

In October 2019, Slack discovered that their paid customers spend more than 90 minutes actively messaging their colleagues each workday. It’s likely that many of those messages are from team members asking questions or requesting clarifications. That’s a lot of back-and-forth you can snip out of your day.

However, even though your company might have an internal wiki, people still tend to ask team managers questions because it’s the path of least resistance.

Recovering a fraction of these precious minutes could boost your team’s overall productivity. To achieve this, consider developing a strong culture of documentation. The first step in doing this is making it known to your entire company that all of your information and processes are in your wiki.

Then, you need to encourage your team to, first and foremost, look for whatever they need in the wiki instead of asking you. After completing these two steps, your employees will understand that they shouldn’t ask you any questions about how to do something unless they’ve sifted through the wiki.

To make it even easier for your team members to find the answers they’re looking for in your wiki, consider using Tettra’s integration with Slack. Your team can use simple slash commands to find, create, and request knowledge from Tettra. 

For instance, to quickly find a link to a Tettra page about your company’s vacation policy, you can simply use the slash command in Slack:

/tettra find vacation policy

Then a link to the page will pop up. You can also use the integration to notify your team when someone creates new knowledge in Tettra. 

Your company can smash its silos and foster better collaboration

When teams don’t share their goals, projects, or data with each other, they tend to operate in silos, and hitting their own goals becomes their sole focus. While this might help individual teams hit their goals every month, not having any context about other teams’ objectives creates conflicting agendas between each other and can even cause them to thwart each other from hitting their goals.

For example, if a blog team has to hit a lofty traffic goal, they might target as many high-search-volume, low-intent keywords as possible. However, if the demand-generation team needs to produce a certain number of leads from the blog, the blog team’s traffic-generation strategy won’t allow the demand-generation team to hit their goal, which is arguably more important for the business.

Having a single source of truth is the remedy to this problem — it allows all teams to better understand everyone’s processes and current projects. As a result, they can align as closely as possible so every team can hit their goals and, in turn, collectively hit company goals, such as revenue.

Additionally, humans are notoriously bad at remembering information they just learned (so bad that we forget 50% of information an hour after it’s presented to us, 70% after 24 hours, and 90% after a week)

Creating a single source of truth lets each team reference other teams’ information and processes if they ever forget them.

Using Tettra, each of your teams can create and update a template for their goals, common processes, and quarterly projects so the whole department can work together to hit everyone’s goals — not just an individual team’s.

OKR quarterly goals

Making sure every one knows each team’s goals will help your entire company to unify around achieving the mission.

The One-Stop Shop for All of Your Information and Processes

Having a single source of truth can reap conventional benefits, like easily finding relevant information and slashing the number of questions your teammates ask. But it can also harvest transformational ones, like improving your team’s cognitive diversity and alignment with other teams, which can take your business to another level of growth.