How to structure a knowledge base

Part II – Definition of a knowledge base and the role of wikis

25. November 2022

The second part of our series on knowledge bases explains what constitutes a knowledge base and describes why wikis play a major role in this.

A knowledge base is software that enables knowledge to be stored centrally. Companies and organizations use knowledge bases to store information from the entire cycle of value creation. These include, for example:

  • Documentation of processes, procedures, decisions and guidelines up to the complete company structure including responsibilities,
  • Description of products and services,
  • Information of all kinds about customer projects, service providers and partners,
  • Planning projects and campaigns,
  • Training materials on products and internal processes,
  • Minutes and reports

… and much more.

A well-planned and maintained knowledge base contains all the knowledge that every company employee needs to be able to do their daily work quickly, efficiently, and without errors without having to spend a lot of time asking for it.

Access allowed?

Because this knowledge is worth its weight in gold for the company (“knowledge is a valuable asset”), much of it must remain internal to the company. Therefore, any internal knowledge base must also have secure access control. This is the only way to ensure that only the employees of a company or organization have access to the information they need to do their jobs. With this requirement at the latest, management software of some kind is necessary.

Why wikis and which wiki software?

A wiki (Hawaiian for “fast”) is a website whose content can not only be read by visitors but also edited and changed directly in the web browser (Web 2.0 application).” (Read more on Wikipedia)

Wikis are the standard solution for knowledge databases today. They are very flexible and can be used for a wide variety of purposes. They pursue a collaborative strategy: As in Wikipedia, as many employees as possible should be able to read and write in an uncomplicated manner so that the company (or community) can create and exchange new and current information efficiently and quickly.

Under the hood of Wikipedia runs the software MediaWiki. The freely available knowledge management software is the foundation that ensures the operation of one of the largest websites in the world – as a community project.

Based on MediaWiki: BlueSpice – the enterprise wiki software

At the same time, MediaWiki is also the technical basis for BlueSpice, which brings the strengths of Wikipedia extended by enterprise functions into companies. In recent years, BlueSpice has established itself as the leading MediaWiki distribution.

Various BlueSpice editions are available, with the BlueSpice farm cloud solution providing customers with the maximum structuring capabilities and features they need in the enterprise.

The concepts described in this series of articles can be applied in any company of any size. They are tailored to BlueSpice, but can also be successfully transferred to other knowledge base products such as Confluence, XWiki or DokuWiki, even if the approaches here have to be adapted according to the technical possibilities.

If you want to compare different software solutions, you can find valuable help at the following links:
>> comparison between MediaWiki and BlueSpice
>> comparison between MediaWiki and Confluence

The third part “Bringing structure to heterogeneous content” will be released on Dec 02.

back to part I

Hallo Welt! GmbH is the company behind the open-source enterprise wiki software BlueSpice, which is distributed in more than 160 countries with over 1 million downloads. The Regensburg-based company builds collaborative software for knowledge management and online documentation since 2007.

Authors: RH/MF

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