What to Consider When Choosing an Application – Collaboration & Knowledge

by Mateusz Kuczera

Published October 30, 2023

“Bea, how do I add a customer address?” asks Justine, the administrative assistant, to Bea, the project manager, via company chat.

“I showed you last week,” responds Bea.

“I know,” writes Justine. “But I forgot. I’m sorry.”

“Did you check the work instruction?” continued Bea.

“Work instruction? I didn’t know there was such a thing!” replicates Justine.

“Here’s the link,” writes Bea as she sends Justine the link to the company’s knowledge repository. “If you can, try checking there first.”

Knowledge management within small companies tends to be a significant challenge. Most use deeply tribal knowledge, meaning that a few key people have most if not all of the inner workings of the business. Sometimes, they even have not only the business knowledge but also the technical knowledge. This makes for great risk to the business something happens to a key employee. Knowledge management and documented collaboration are fantastic counter-measures to tribal knowledge.

Navigating Clouds and Structuring Repositories

To have a successful knowledge repository, the first requirement is to have a company which is mostly, if not completely, paperless. Processes must be executed on a digital system, and logged on databases which reside on servers. Said servers can either be hosted internally or externally. The differences being where the servers physically reside and who manages them. But in both cases, data management can be considered on the “cloud”. Without a central digital repository, digital knowledge and collaboration are extremely difficult to manage.

Whether a company uses wikis, guide, or Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs), knowledge will have to be structured in a logical way. It is recommended to discuss this structure with colleagues and employees to ensure everyone is comfortable with it. Otherwise, people will not use it as intended.

Wikis, Guides and SOPs

Several different methods exist to document knowledge within a company. The first of those methods, widely known because of the all-popular Wikipedia, is an internal wiki page. Such a wiki page is an open collaboration tool where everyone can contribute knowledge, adding and adapting content. The beauty of a wiki is how permanently alive the tool is. Every single person in the company can build content, which can then benefit all other company contributors. However, because of its open nature, a wiki is sometimes prone to incorrect or incomplete knowledge. A moderator is therefore required. With such a moderator, a company wiki becomes a tremendously powerful knowledge management tool

The next best thing to a company wiki are guides and standard operating procedures (SOPs). Also located on the cloud but with a more traditional format (word or PDF documents). Similar to a wiki, guides and SOPs provide working instructions to employees executing a specific task. Thanks to these instructions, employees can have a point of reference when the forget how to do a specific thing. Guides are recommended for smaller companies or low impact processes, whereas SOPs are recommended for larger companies or high impact processes, sometimes called Key processes. It is also recommended to use guides in conjunction with process maps to help visually understand the flow of the task.

Onboarding and Training

Once available, knowledge tools can have multiple high value uses. One of those uses as we discussed earlier is to provide employees with references for task execution. In addition, the knowledge tools may, and should, also be used as onboarding and training tools.

When new employees begin at a company, small or large, is it extremely important to provide them with a starting package which includes basic information such as how to open the computer and where bathrooms are. Links to most used knowledge repositories and documents, as well as sometimes the documents themselves, should be included in the package. Employees will therefore have an immediate reference in case they have a question regarding basic company operations. An onboarding package and checklist make for excellent first impressions and help tremendously in employee retention.

Knowledge tools should also be used for training purposes, whether for new or old employees. Pulling from the online knowledge repository, training should be structured to follow the guidelines which are already available. This in turn will give employees a sense of consistency and immediately give them a reference for the training they have just received. It is therefore recommended that the selected software app has wiki and training capabilities.

Pull versus Push

When something is unclear or unknown, people’s natural tendency is to ask someone for the information. This however may interrupt the flow of work of the person being prompted, which in turn reduces overall efficiency and sometimes causes frustration. Asking questions is called a push prompt. And although not completely proscribed, it is recommended only as a last resort.

With a central knowledge repository, a company has to possibility to shift from push to pull. In other words, employees can now search for the knowledge themselves instead of bothering other with possible simple questions. Pull is the preferred method for unanswered questions. And even when a question has been unanswered for a long time, it can be posted through asynchronous communication methods such as forums or chat channels. Only as a last resort should it be sent directly to someone.


Collaboration and knowledge management, despite its scarcity in small companies, is fundamental to business resilience. Building knowledge on a cloud platform and sharing it with employees will make fore better quality and efficiency. And using collaborative tools such as wikis or forums will enable the company to shift from a push culture to a pull culture, drastically reducing disruptions and creating a culture of autonomy and collaboration. Contact Mondro to learn more about collaboration and knowledge management tools!

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