Evaluating Types of Knowledge Base Software

Rose Mary
by Rose Mary 16 Jun, 2014

Over the past few years, the field of knowledge management has grown significantly. Along with it, the applications available to help companies collect, organize and store their knowledge resources have also expanded and diversified. If you are considering purchasing a knowledge base software system, you will have many choices to make, particularly in terms of which features your company requires. This post provides a short introduction to three main dimensions of knowledge base software, to help you narrow down your choices.

General versus specific

Knowledge bases can take many forms. For example, a shared drive on a network is a very simple sort of knowledge base. General applications are software programs that are intended for something else, but are used as knowledge base systems. For example, content management programs are often used to create and store knowledge resources. If your knowledge collection is small (and you don't expect it to grow significantly), and you don't use it for customer service purposes, then a general solution like this may be sufficient.

However, most companies find that general solutions do not provide the features and functionality they need. Specialized knowledge base software provides a much more powerful way to store knowledge resources. If your knowledge collection is large, spanning multiple categories, and you need that information to be searchable and actionable for both your employees and your customers, a specialized application will serve you much better both now and in the long run.

Internal versus external

There are two basic types of knowledge bases: internal, which are used solely by a company's employees, and external, which are accessible to customers. Some knowledgebase software is specialized for one or the other, but many programs offer both. If one of your goals in purchasing knowledge base software is to improve your customer service operations, then look for an application that supports both internal and external functions. The internal resources can be used by your customer service team, while the external resources provide a self-service option for your customers.

Installed versus cloud-based

As with many other types of enterprise applications, knowledgebase software comes in both installed and cloud-based software-as-a-service formats. Installed software is typically used by large companies that want to retain ultimate control over their operations. These programs require IT departments capable of handling installation, maintenance and upgrades, as well as servers dedicated to storing the knowledge resources.

Many companies (particularly those that do not have the requisite server space and IT capabilities) are finding significant benefits from purchasing software-as-a-service. These cloud-based systems are generally available through a low-cost subscription model, eliminating the need for a large upfront investment. Since they are based in the cloud, they do not impose storage demands on the company. In addition, the vendor is responsible for updating the software, so there is no need for an organization to devote IT time to maintenance. Finally, the data is also stored in the cloud, so no on-site storage servers are necessary. The cloud-based format allows business of all types and sizes to benefit from knowledge base software and other enterprise applications.

There are many types of knowledge base software available, and they all have slightly different functionality. From here, your next decisions will revolve around the features and components of knowledge management that are most important to you. But starting with these three dimensions will help you focus your search on the programs that will best meet the needs of your organization.

Rose Mary is a business and market researcher with more than 20 years of experience and is currently working with ProProfs Knowledge Base Software. She has been extensively involved in exploring the impact of technological innovations on business organizations, enterprise culture and organizational processes.