Google it! See results and refine your search. That’s how you like to fund stuff!
And that’s how the users of your documents, want to get the information about your products…
This is why many companies – whether mature or just starting out – are re-thinking the way they develop their technology content. Technical books – hundreds of pages long – are a thing of the past.
The traditional approach of writing long documents just isn’t really working…
What is the alternative to documents?
You need an online Product Knowledge Base. That’s what’s missing to satisfy your user’s needs. With all your technical information in ONE easily accessible place like JBS has been delivering for years.
The knowledge base focuses on your product content, is more easily updated and can also be used to produce documents or distribute your technical content any time it is required! It transforms your technical documents into searchable online information about your product that users want and need.
But: How do you get from here to there?
As a documentation manager or start-up leader, you know you want a knowledge base, but never have the time or the know-how to get this done. So you continue to produce traditional documents….
First step is to get into the right mindset. Many of the barriers to adding a knowledge base methodology to benefit your company and users are actually in your mind…. “It’s hard.” “Will take lots of time.” “People are used to documents in any case. Why change?” etc., etc.
When you replace the barriers with benefits, you begin to think differently. You’re ready to get to the heart of your product’s information to really serve your users!!!
At JBS, we know what happens when you remove barriers! We’ve seen how our clients love it when they get both online access and documents from the same process. One of our clients in the security domain, for example, gained more than they imagined. They gained the ability to provide secure, customized product information to their users directly on their secure server – right alongside their product! Documents turned into securely accessible online information for understanding product operation, help for support or troubleshooting and even aided selling the product during pre-sales…
It’s amazing to see how an online knowledge base naturally supports your customer and internal needs. But the transition isn’t simple…
To get a deeper understanding, here are some benefits that we’ve witnessed in transforming technical documents into a powerful, online knowledge base – as we’ve experienced with our hi-tech customers both in secure and public domains:
BENEFIT 1: By focusing on content versus document structure, you save time on the RIGHT information.
When writing documents, much of the effort is on formatting, organizing. When gathering technical information, the team’s focus shifts to content. Therefore, people focus on information that’s really important – your product’s content. You prioritize and publish the information that’s really important.
Once you focus on content, you are also focusing on what your users need. What they want to search for and find easier – keywords, etc. It’s much more intuitive and simpler to search within this content versus a regular PDF.
BENEFIT 2: With analytics tools you can see what your customers spend time looking at and can better understand their needs.
Once your content is online, you can benefit from analytic tools like Google analytics etc. As an example, one of our clients documented information on 50,000 topics. Once they put this online, they understood that really only 8% of the topics were being accessed and that only 3% of these were actually being read for more than 3 minutes. We adjusted our update schedule accordingly – affording more time to the topics being used, adding more clarity and explaining in more detail.
BENEFIT 3: You can now support and respond better, in real time!
Most critical pieces of information are cross-sections of documents. When you write by topic versus documents, critical information for support/general use is all in one place – organized by content versus document structure.
TIP: JBS advises that the best way to start is to organize your content by user needs.
Moving from structured to topic-based can be a long and tedious process if you do it yourself. Whether you’re ready for a full-blown knowledge base or simply want to make your existing technical documents more useful, you need to change your mindset from “book-think” to a topic-based approach.
Here’s a list of questions to ponder:
JBS’s experience can be of great value in helping you assess what’s best for your company.
To come up with a working strategy: How to get from here to there?!
The Death of Technical Documents – Long Live the Knowledge Base