Over time, businesses and other organizations build up a “knowledge base” from the experiences of the people who work there.
This so-called institutional knowledge is apart from the knowledge required to operate the business, and may include things like technical presentations at conferences, help documents created by long-time employees for new people, and publications about the organization.
These knowledge documents should be considered a valuable business asset and treated as such. Many businesses deliberately create repositories of important documents as an institutional knowledge archive, and these repositories can be particularly valuable during times of change, like when a new CEO is appointed, or when key employees retire. The best way to build such a repository is by creating automated workflows to help.
Why Automated Workflows Are the Key
Imagine your company has file cabinets full of technical papers delivered by employees over the years. If the company is old enough, some of these documents may not exist in digital form. Should there be a fire, burglary, or other disaster, the documents, and the knowledge contained within them could disappear forever.
Automated workflows are the key to digitizing non-digital documents and then working with the collection of digital documents to organize and store them in ways that make them useful to the maximum number of people. Making the archival workflow available to all appropriate staff members, and making it simple and straightforward to enter publication data like title, author, and date, and then copy and paste the contents of digital documents distributes the workload, helping you build your archive faster.
Work could be distributed in numerous ways. For example, each engineer who presented a technical paper on behalf of the company could be responsible for adding their documents to the archive. A summer intern could be assigned to add documents to the archive in cases where the document’s author has left or retired.
Best Practices: Approval and Validation
One best practice that is particularly valuable when building institutional archives is inclusion of approval and validation processes within the workflow. Someone – or more likely, several someones – should check each new entry into the archive to make sure that all key fields are completed, and that the digital document matches up to the title. The approval and validation step may also involve assignment of a document to one or more document categories, e.g. technical papers, instruction manuals, machine specifications, etc.
Benefits of Digital Institutional Archives
Having an extensive, accessible institutional archive or knowledge base benefits an organization in countless ways. For one thing, creating digital copies of non-digital documents provides backup without requiring more physical storage space. Providing access to the company knowledge base helps employees solve problems more easily, because they can check to see if solutions already exist rather than “re-inventing the wheel” when a problem arises.
A strong institutional knowledge base can and should be considered a strong business asset, and this can help when raising capital or entertaining buy-out offers. And it can help in unusual situations, such as when an old or rarely-used piece of equipment must be used again, especially if the former operators of the machinery have retired.
Creating an institutional knowledge base is a big undertaking, but the benefits are real, measurable, and long-term. Creating an automated workflow and distributing the work involved ensure that the process goes as quickly as possible, and that the fewest mistakes are made. In the end, you’ll have made information more valuable by making it more accessible and usable.
PerfectApps is automated workflow software that allows businesses and organizations to create customized workflows. PerfectApps lets you begin with customized online forms that make data entry straightforward, and then link forms and other documents together into powerful workflows that make sense to end-users. And the forms and workflows you create are mobile-friendly, making them even more useful.
No programming is required to use PerfectApps, because it has an intuitive, drag-and-drop interface. Therefore, the end-users of a workflow can have input into how the workflows are designed. Whether you want to create a digitized institutional knowledge base, or simply need to automate business processes with ease, we invite you to try PerfectApps for free by signing up for a trial.