It’s time to get organized
In our last entry, we shared a knowledge capture strategy that involved identifying “buckets” for your organization’s processes, and filling them with information. Now that you’ve filled your buckets, the next step is for you to get all that content organized and structured so that your audiences will be able to quickly and easily find the information they need, and understand it and use it effectively.
First, break the content down by Information Type
Start by using Information Mapping’s Theory of Information Types to categorize the information you’ve gathered. There are 6 Information Types, including
- Processes: What happens, in what chronological order?
- Procedures: “How-to” information, Work Instructions
- Principles: Policies, Rules
- Concepts: Ideas, Definitions
- Structures: Parts, Components
- Facts: Statements, Reference information
Understanding these Information Types will be extremely valuable to you at this stage of the knowledge capture process.
Tip: Always categorize your information based on its utility to the user.
Next, organize and structure the content using research-based principles
Once you’ve gotten all your information categorized by type, organize and structure it to meet the needs of your audience. This is where Information Mapping’s research-based information management principles can help you to create easily searched, user-focused content. Here’s a table containing a quick summary of these principles and how to apply them.
|Principle||How to apply it|
|Chunking||Chunk your information into small, manageable pieces|
|Relevance||Group the chunks together according to their relevance to each other|
|Labeling||Label your chunks (and your groups of chunks) clearly so users can find what they need quickly and easily|
|Consistency||Apply consistency in your terminology as well as in your structures and formats, to avoid confusing users|
|Accessible detail||Present your information in ways that allow your audience to “drill down” to more detailed information if they need to|
Use graphics whenever they can help make the information easier to read and understand.
Tip: In addition to pictures and diagrams, “graphics” also means tables, bulleted lists, white space and other visual aids that guide users and make it easier for them to do their jobs.
Use a review process to validate your work
You’ve finally gotten your information categorized, organized and structured. Now it’s time to make sure it meets your audiences’ needs. Ask end users to review it. Get as many of them as you can to participate. Here’s what you’ll be looking for.
- Is the process or procedure replicable? Can employees who weren’t involved in your knowledge capture process use your document to achieve the desired results?
- Are there variables in the process, perhaps due to different locations or other factors, which will require you to include some if/then options? Be alert for these, especially if localization is an issue in your business.
- Can end users find what they need easily, at the right level of detail? Or are they getting “lost in the weeds” of detail that they don’t need?
Finally, you’re ready to deploy
With the review complete, and adjustments and refinements made, you’re ready to roll out your new content and start to see the payoff for all your hard work. As you consider the best way to go about deployment, think about these key points.
- Where and how will people find it? On the intranet? A portal? A manual?
- How will people learn to use it? Can you just issue the new document, or will users need training? Instructor-led training, or will self-guided training be sufficient?
- How will your new processes or procedures link to others that already exist?
- How will you get the word out? You may be surprised at how important it is to sell your newly captured content across the organization. Think about ways you can get senior management buy-in. Think about how you can convince everyone that this new document will benefit them and the organization.
Nice work…but don’t get too comfortable
So your great new document is out there now, and everyone is raving about the improvements that your work has made possible. Enjoy the kudos—but don’t get too comfortable. Remember, earlier in this series we said that knowledge capture is a process, not an event. If your document isn’t kept up-to-date you’ll find that it quickly loses relevance. We recommend regular reviews to keep your information current, so that users can always rely on it to reflect changes and improvements to your processes.