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Pros and Cons of SharePoint Knowledge Base Software

Pros and Cons of SharePoint Knowledge Base Software

Category: Knowledge Base Software

Last updated on Nov 29, 2022

Many companies who have adopted Microsoft SharePoint KM as Knowledge Base are quickly realizing its limitations. While SharePoint provides basic features for creating documents and tracking revisions, it tends to fall short when teams need more.

If you appreciate the importance of good documentation, then you can appreciate the need for a centralized document management and storing system. Organizations that value localized storage and secure systems are investing in Document Management Systems like SharePoint.

But as more and more companies are using technology as a business driver, many business leaders are moving away from solutions like SharePoint. Instead, they are investing in a Knowledge Base.

Comparing Microsoft SharePoint to a Knowledge Base can be like comparing a Hammer to a Hardware store. Teams need more than one tool to be successful.

What is a Sharepoint Knowledge Base?

Microsoft SharePoint is defined as a Document Management System. It is designed as a repository for keeping and maintaining documentation. When comparing SharePoint to a Knowledge Base, it’s important to understand a few things.

Sharepoint Homepage

First, to understand how adopting a Knowledge Base can help your organization, it’s important to understand what the Knowledge Management Framework is. It is a highly regarded methodology for extracting Knowledge and sharing it among employees and departments. In essence, the Knowledge Management Framework delivers structure for employees, empowering them to effectively manage, track, and retain knowledge of workflows, documentation, and revisions.

A Knowledge Base is a method of leveraging technology to store and customize documentation across an organization. It acts as a centralized system that teams and departments share access to. A typical Knowledge Base is usually software and should encapsulate many different tools and capabilities to drive productivity across an organization.

Depending on the business requirements, a Knowledge Base is essential to increasing collaboration, centralizing document management and helping employees adopt the Knowledge Management Framework.

While Knowledge Management Framework is an overall strategy for making information, a Knowledge Base is the vehicle in which that framework is delivered.

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What does Share Point Offer as a Knowledge base?

SharePoint is a very standard repository used primarily for internal users to create and store documents. It is part of Microsoft Office365 and relies on Microsoft Suite to function.

SharePoint allows teams to view, edit, and share internal documentation through Microsoft’s ecosystem of Office365 products.

Because SharePoint is a Microsoft product, it is heavily reliant on the Microsoft ecosystem. If your organization is a big Microsoft shop, then you should feel right at home. With SharePoint, you can create basic document libraries based on Microsoft Office tools. Creating and uploading files from Office365 is easy and straightforward. Uploading templates to folders and exporting documentation through Excel and Word is easy, as long as you play in Microsoft’s sandbox.

Filtering documentation is simple with SharePoint. You can filter by date or user. You can also filter by last modified or the type of document. You can even sync your PC to SharePoint for working in external Microsoft programs like Microsoft Teams to enhance collaboration. SharePoint the storage platform for Microsoft Teams. Microsoft offers on-Prem options, but most will use the cloud solution.

Coauthoring and version tracking is another benefit that provides simple workflows in which the user can interact with. Users can also create alerts, pin documents, customize columns, and create Wiki pages.

Advantages of SharePoint knowledge base

First, we’ll look at the advantages of using SharePoint knowledge base.

Easy on-boarding for Microsoft users

It’s likely that your staff members already know how to use SharePoint, or at least are familiar with the rest of the Microsoft Office suite. You can keep your knowledge base in the same systems your staff is used to using, and reduce onboarding time and efforts.

Knowledge base administrators don’t need new accounts with more passwords to worry about.

Using a single system

Since SharePoint integrates with Microsoft Office, you have the advantage of using a single system for more of your toolstack. Employees won’t have to remember to use a new platform and IT won’t have to worry about vetting a new supplier.

Secure and reliable

Microsoft is a trusted software enterprise supplier globally, so you don’t have to worry about things like data protection, hacking, or the company going bust. It’s a brand that’s not going anywhere any time soon.

SharePoint as a knowledge wiki

SharePoint is best suited to be an internal, collaborative, version-controlled tool for your Document Management strategy.

In simple terms, this means keeping your company information in one place, accessible across a large, distributed team, and enabling people to work together better. It could be compared to Google Drive in this way – document hosting in the cloud for teams.

Also Read: Microsoft SharePoint Vs Google Docs: What’s the Difference?

An internal knowledge base is more likely to be a wiki, which means that anyone can add content and access the Content Management System. Having a few centralised administrators who post content would inhibit this collaborative workflow, so SharePoint is ideal in this instance.

Before you can get started, your SharePoint administrator has to set up Wiki Pages site. You’ll end up with a CMS that your staff can use to post text, images, and videos on content pages. You can also format the content and make the metadata searchable.

Drawbacks of using Sharepoint knowledge base

The drawbacks of utilising SharePoint knowledge base are numerous. The built-in features of SharePoint geared towards making it a collaborative internal tool focused more towards knowledge management.

This results in a completely different software model, making it ill-suited to use as a knowledge base.

Non indexed contents

Let’s imagine you don’t have the resources to set up a complicated Wiki Page.

If your documents are hosted in your Sharepoint knowledge base in a variety of formats such as Excel spreadsheets, PowerPoints, Word documents and PDFs, these aren’t going to be indexable.

Search queries will be difficult, you won’t be able to easily browse the content, or ultimately find what you need.

Even if you make a Wiki site, only the metadata tagged and indexed – versus the actual body of your article in a regular knowledge base. This limits the search capabilities still further.

No information architecture

Creating a Wiki in SharePoint still means there will be no oversight of the Information Architecture beyond the initial set up.

Users will hit your knowledge base and be overwhelmed by the sheer amount of unstructured information presented in quite a basic way. You can’t even categorise your content in SharePoint.

Sharepoint homepage-Document360

Having too much content, especially unstructured, means your knowledge base will be worse than useless.

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Restricted number of users

A public-facing knowledge base needs to have a potentially unlimited number of ‘users’, who are typically your customers. Most self-service knowledge bases do need to be public-facing, as requiring a login is just too much of a hurdle for your average customer.

If your knowledge base requires a login, you wouldn’t be able to scale your knowledge base quickly and cheaply as you acquire more customers. On the other hand, if you make your SharePoint knowledge base public-facing, approval workflows and scheduling will not be available.

Lack of version control

If you need to have version control, publishing permissions, or scheduling, collaboration within SharePoint, it is not possible.

If you can’t have a proper editing process, this will hinder team productivity.

Not usable out-of-the-box

SharePoint is not actually knowledge base software, so you need to build it using the Wiki Pages feature, or use other third-party knowledge base software that deploys on top of SharePoint. This removes the advantage of using Microsoft because you have introduced another supplier.

Limited online features

SharePoint Online (the SaaS version of SharePoint rather than the installed on-premise version) also has reduced features compared to the desktop version. You may not be able to do everything that SharePoint promises in the web browser, limiting how agile your iteration process could be.

Enterprise price tag

SharePoint aimed at the enterprise, and the enterprise price tag may be a barrier to entry for smaller companies or startups. You’ll have to pay for every user in SharePoint whereas a knowledge base usually has a limited number of ‘administrators’.

In SharePoint, the administrators are also ‘users’, whereas knowledge bases also have non-administrative users who are ‘customers’. This isn’t possible in SharePoint – without developer help to make a public-facing Wiki Pages site.

Knowledge versus action

One of the most misleading things about the term ‘knowledge base’ is that they are actually aimed at helping users accomplish tasks – not just passively absorb knowledge. So knowledge bases must be actionable and include proper Information Architecture.

You might not be able to accomplish this with a SharePoint knowledge base, if the assumption is that it’s a wiki and everyone in the organisation is responsible for it. With unmaintained wikis, this usually ends up as no one being responsible.

The point of a knowledge base is not precisely to ‘share knowledge’, but rather help users to accomplish tasks or solve problems related to your product that you have previously defined.

It involves having an idea of the customer journey, and pain points with your product.

Your goals should be based on actual user needs that you have identified through surveys, conversations, or analytics data.

You need to decide what the knowledge base should accomplish and collect knowledge based on that goal. The knowledge articles and contents presented in a way that external customers, without advanced knowledge of your company, will easily understand.

Because of the massive influx of data, business leaders are now moving to a more agile and customizable approach to managing documentation. Business leaders are interested in creating a Knowledge Base to share documentation with their customers, partners, vendors, and stakeholders that includes dynamic customization within one Platform.

That’s where a SaaS knowledge base comes in.

What is a SaaS Knowledge base? Why is it better?

A SaaS knowledge Base allows for better connectivity and accessibility across the supply chain. People who rely on documentation management for their business needs have spoken, and a Knowledge Base has become the answer to their requirements.

As the internet has evolved, organizations have also had to adapt. Companies now are adopting a Web Centric approach to running their business. They are asking more from their vendors than basic repositories for document management. This has attracted a need for more diversity and customization within the Platform. Business leaders tired of investing in Siloed, static solutions that suck time and money from their teams.

Business leaders now are looking to implement a solution that users can customize and share. For users that work heavily in SEO, Markdown Language and Web, it’s imperative that they find a vendor who can incorporate these options into a Knowledge Base.

The advantages of a SaaS knowledge base

Now that we have touched upon why business leaders are moving to a Knowledge Base, what are the features that are needed to run a Dynamic Knowledge Base?

Beyond the basic features of solutions such as SharePoint, Document360 provides a truly unique way to manage documentation and customize content. Having a Knowledge Base like Document360 is a way for your organization to take document management and customization to a new level. Let’s talk about the next generation of document management.

Advanced Portal for Building, Editing, Revising

When it comes to writing, editing, and revising documentation, Document360 offers an advanced portal for content developers. Having a home base for your content is crucial for collaboration. This will allow multiple users from multiple organizations to have access to Document360’s Knowledge Base. With state-of-the-art editing, drop and drag category management, dynamic analytics, and revision tracking, users now have fun and exciting options at their fingertips.

The Platform allows for seamless Version History and Rollback capabilities. Because Document360 is a Knowledge Base, version revision is visible to all users on the Platform and can be categorized through permissions settings. Being able to Fork (Clone), delete, and open documentation comes with a time stamp so that multiple users can track the progress of their documentation.

Customize Categories and Articles from a Single Platform 

Document360 Category Manager allows you to create up to six levels of categories and subcategories to effectively organize and display articles. Category manager is customizable; therefore, you will have the ability to rearrange and move the categories through drag and drop features. The User Interface is sleek, allowing for easy navigation. The user has access content without having to leave the Platform. Everything is accessible through the Platform.

Document360 Review Reminder is a way to track and improve revisions. With Review Reminder, the user can schedule and track tasks to manage and assign deadlines. Review Reminder allows for standard or custom reminders, allowing the user to push out deadlines to any date of their choosing. This will ensure that the user will never miss a deadline.

Through Wiki builder, Document360 allows for customizable Wiki’s to make documentation stand out. This allows you to customize Wiki’s through customized features such as drag and drop for tiles, icons’, colors, columns, images, and styles.

Advanced AI for Query

Creating documentation is fun with Document360 and finding documentation is seamless. Because Document360 is powered by intelligent AI for advanced Querying. Through the search feature, the user will have the ability to enter key words and tags so that they can instantly find projects.

kb-site-realtime-search-engine

Tagging Articles within the Platform is another feature that sets Document360 apart from other Knowledge Bases. Document360 allows for enhanced tagging within articles, allowing teams to easily search for what they are looking for. By searching for tags through Document360’s fully automated AI driven search bar, you can find anything you need in one place.

Document360 includes a Drive feature for storage within the Platform. By using Drive, you can store articles and save them within the Knowledge Base. Images, PDFs, word docs, and zip files can be stored locally. Drive also allows you to import and export files from your computer and save them in the Platform. Within Drive’s user interface, the Platform will automatically create a time stamp of the saved content and display where it is located for easy access and Query.

Multiple Text Editors for SEO

Document360 gives the user the option of using multiple text editors for both Markdown and traditional HTML (WYSIWYG). These editors offer the users options when it comes to content generation. Having the options to work in both Markdown and HTML gives users the freedom they need to craft their documentation, giving them flexibility for SEO capabilities, heavy coding, or traditional Word-style editing. Both editors have full tool bars with dozens of different fonts, formats, and styles. Depending on what the user is comfortable with, Document360 has both options.

Styling with CSS and JavaScript

Aside from text editors, Document360 Platform allows for the user to include CSS and JavaScript coding from the Knowledge base. Teams can now enhance their documentation by having CSS and JavaScript coding capabilities embedded into the knowledge Base.

Platform API for Developer Tools

Platform API gives users the ability to integrate with their own tools. Being able to customize APIs puts the user in the seat of a developer. Users will have an open API access to read and write to different articles, categorizes, users and settings with REST API.

Document360 allows users access to API Keys that will enhance integration with other tools. Using different API Keys will allow you to generate full API integration (GET, POST, PUT, DELETE). Users can utilize API tokens for seamless integration. Within Platform API, the user will have the ability to view categories and subcategories and decide which APIs are best to use. Document360 puts the user in the seat of the developer, all within one Platform.

Also Read: Ultimate Guide To Create an API Documentation with Examples

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Custom Domains

Creating a custom domain is another feature that users are requesting. Being able to customize a domain gives the user the option to create specific URLs that you can then track within the Knowledge Base. The best part? The user can stay within the Knowledge base to make changes. By having a Knowledge Base, the user can customize each domain setting to his or her liking and create something truly unique.

Software Integrations and Extensions

When choosing a Knowledge Base, there is something that separates the lions from the house cats. And that is Integration. For organizations that rely heavily on multiple software vendors to manage their workflows, whether that be ticketing systems, CRM, or developer tools, it can be difficult to manage documentation in multiple places. Having a Knowledge Base that is capable of integrating with other software vendors is a game changer. Document360 is completely customizable and can be integrated with most software.

Read More: Using Microsoft Teams and Slack as customer-centric tools

Automated 24/7 Support

Document360’s advanced support team will provide users with 24/7 automated support within the Platform. With Document360s ticketing system, a user can log a ticket within the Platform and have access to on-call support for instant access. By using Document360 Knowledge Base Assistant, the user can provide automated support to their customers instantaneously, saving time and headaches if something should go wrong. Support for Security, Custom CSS/JavaScript, and Custom links is included

Final remarks

Microsoft SharePoint is a good product for internal teams who need to collaborate with each other. It could probably be used well in creating your internal knowledge base.

However, it is not a knowledge base software. When it comes to building a complete knowledge base (external and internal), it’s lacking several features.

There is a growing variety of SaaS knowledge base solutions that better suit your needs. Some of them will be even more budget-friendly.

If you pick SharePoint, you’ll have to hack it for your purposes, and the development requirements will slow you down. As a result, SharePoint is not suitable for the fast growth of SaaS companies, where legacy software requirements limited by use.

Have you tried using a CMS like Sharepoint or a dedicated knowledge base software like Document360?

How was your experience? Let us know with a comment below.

Document360 is SaaS knowledge base software built specifically for SaaS companies. It’s affordable. It’s scalable. Sign up for a free trial now.

Catherine Heath

Jul 5, 2018

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