I knew that I wanted to talk about knowledgebases in this week’s blog entry. It has been surfacing quite a bit lately in chatter around the user community. That got me thinking of exactly what a knowledgebase is. I use them quite often on-line for software support. I started my exploration with Wikipedia.com. I often find their definitions way too complex and way to long. I believe that their definition is quite accurate, as well as, short and sweet.
A knowledge base (abbreviated KB, kb or Δ) is a special kind of database for knowledge management, providing the means for the computerized collection, organization, and retrieval of knowledge. Also a collection of data representing related experiences, their results are related to their problems and solutions.
My pondering about knowledgebases is more about what it means to members of the Modeling Global User Community. CA Technologies has a nice knowledgebase on their support site that has good searchability and good content. It is an excellent example of a software vendor’s technology support network that integrates with and compliments their traditional support channels. Outside of CA Technologies, Karen Lopez and www.infoadvisors.com provides the oldest and most mature on-line forum for ERwin and data professionals.
These are two excellent examples of knowledgebases. The question is, “Why do our community members want something else?” I’ll toss out my initial thoughts on what I want in a user community driven knowledgebase. I hope that other members of the user community chime in with their thoughts.
Let’s start with the basics. The user community knowledgebase should focus on members sharing their personal knowledge and experiences with fellow user community members. It should have a collection of ERwin macros, option sets, design templates, abbreviation files, report templates, Crystal Report templates, queries, FAQs, and tips and techniques. These should be arraigned in folders that can be searched.
Some more advanced features would be cross referencing to other entries in the knowledgebase. An advanced search feature that allows members to target and better find solutions is a nice to have feature. Integrating this knowledgebase with social networking sites would be cool. In other words, once you post an entry it would be nice to let the community know about it on ERwin.com, Facebook, Twirrer or LinkedIn. It opens the knowledgebase up to valuable social networking input.
I personally believe that we need to get our knowledgebase up and running quickly. Probably the simplest solution would be to use the document library in the MGUC portal. We can start by setting up folders and publishing content to these folders. The folders can be searched. We will need to set up some governance and standards to give this some order. It’s not a glossy solution but it is a step in the right direction. CA Technologies is committed to making these portal sites very user centric and driven by the community needs. Perhaps we will see some movement to setting up a framework for user community based knowledgebase in the near future.
As a reader of this blog, I hope that you chime in and give me your thoughts on what a user community driven knowledgebase means to you. Community participation is the most important factor for the success of the knowledgebase. We can build a knowledgebase. User community participation is what makes it a big success or a meager attempt. It’s up to us to make it a resounding success which ultimately makes all of our work easier.