Home > The Anatomy of the Perfect Knowledge Base Article

The Anatomy of the Perfect Knowledge Base Article

Anatomy was always one of my favorite subjects in school—it just made sense. I still know the structure of a human cell, I remember the different parts of the ear, and because I’m active, I know the soreness I feel in my muscles is caused by lactic acid fermentation. Lessons from anatomy have proven to be some of the most practical for my everyday life. Of course, anatomy of the body and anatomy of a knowledge base article are inherently different, but the makeup of their structure results in a very useful and valuable tool for technicians and employees alike. Let’s dive into what comprises a well-written, descriptive, and solid knowledge base article.

The Foundation

Before you even begin writing, there’s a little digging and planning to do to know what to write. After all, building a knowledge base takes time, so you want to ensure your team is focused on building the most impactful resources. Use data to guide you. Your service desk reporting can provide a slew of helpful insights, for example, if specific hardware or software assets are the frequent subject of submitted tickets. What common questions are technicians routinely receiving? (Ahem, looking at you, password reset...) Make a list, check it twice, and start building your knowledge base foundation from there.

The Body

Once you identify what answers are sought after most by customers, write out a step-by-step process for how to resolve the issue. Since a wall of text can be daunting to both the technicians creating the solution and the employees reading it, provide visuals—screenshots, videos, gifs—to help guide them through the process. Not everyone has the same learning style, so a combination of written and visual descriptions can help meet those various needs. Keep keywords in mind. Like a search engine, a modern knowledge base should be easy to search and help guide users to the most applicable solution in as few clicks as possible. Provide links to other relevant solutions articles or resources in case the first one a user lands on isn’t an exact match for their issue. IT Pro Tip: Think like a user when creating knowledge base articles. How would your user describe the issue? Likely without the typical technical jargon those of us in IT are accustomed to. If there’s a nickname for a particular software feature, include it. The goal is to make it easy to users to find and understand the solution, so they can resolve it on their own. Keep in mind, you don’t have to start completely from scratch. With a modern ITSM solution, technicians can convert a ticket resolution into a knowledge base article with a single click. This can be an easy way to start building up your repository of solutions as you go. Worried about quality control? A review process can be automatically baked in. Once a technician converts a resolution to a solution article, it’s automatically set to draft mode, so it can be reviewed before ultimately approving it for internal and/or external use in the service portal.

The Ending

Once the solution has been vetted and approved, it’s time to put it to use. Since you’ve created the solution with the user in mind, the solutions should be easy to find via the search bar in the portal. You can also prioritize your most common or time-sensitive (say, you’ve recently shifted to a remote workforce) solutions on the portal home page, so users don’t even have to search. Technicians can also benefit from an ever-expanding knowledge base by easily attaching solutions to tickets with a single click. Over time, a service desk that incorporates smart technology like artificial intelligence and machine learning can recommend the most relevant solutions to technicians and employees. Close the loop with users at the end of your solutions articles by prompting them to visit the service desk if they still need assistance. While it’s an ongoing process, there are ways IT teams can simplify knowledge management. Review articles often, and when needed, make note of when articles are updated, so users know they’re getting the most up-to-date information. As the business evolves, so will the knowledge management strategy.
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Jessicah Raynor
Jessicah Raynor is a Corporate Marketing Manager for SolarWinds, managing social media publishing and response, and driving business growth through brand awareness campaigns and social…
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