This month, contributor Brock Yordy continues his series on partnerships and how smaller contractors can use them to grow. Partners can bring money, expertise and other resources to the table. Attracting and holding the attention of partners, from simple cash investors up to mergers, first calls for a company to have eye-catching processes and policies.
I wrote about the idea of a “knowledge base” several years ago, but want to touch on it again as part of this discussion about partnerships. A good partner — the kind you actually want to do business with — should want to know everything about your business. As a good potential partner, you want to have those answers ready. A knowledge base helps.
A knowledge base throws together all the important parts of your business into one big, searchable spot. Cloud services from major providers like Google, Microsoft, Apple and Amazon can all make this an easy executable. So, for a contractor, what goes into a knowledge base? I recommend at least:
- Human resource, company-wide documents like travel expense and reimbursement policies
- Organization charts
- Standard operating procedures (SOPs)
- Job safety analyses (JSAs)
- Electronic copies of manuals for important equipment
Depending on your company circumstances and policies, you might also add:
- Any other written training or onboarding materials you have
- Written or video how-tos from company veterans (heck, do both)
Think of this like a reference book for your company. Have your drill crews encountered a tough job that took clever technique to overcome? Document it with plenty of pictures and a write-up, and put it in the knowledge base. Next time, the company can solve the same problem again — more quickly — even if the clever driller who solved it moves to another job or retires.
Maximize the utility of your knowledge base by doing three things:
- Leave out any sensitive information. This isn’t the place for sensitive employee, client or bid documents.
- Make it accessible for everyone in your company, even on mobile. You want it to reach as many people as possible wherever they may roam — though, to be fair, drillers sometimes roam out of mobile tower range.
- Lock down the ability to add, remove or update. You want to have gate-keepers who can maintain high-quality, useful information.
Big companies know a knowledge base gathers all the how-tos and what-fors the company needs to grow and prosper. Companies that want to be big companies can benefit from learning the same lesson. Securing a partner for your business — or, heck, even financing — often requires a lot of i dotting and t crossing, from your books to your safety record to your legal and financial team. A knowledge base full of your company’s most precious institutional wisdom can complement those efforts.
What do you think? As a small company, have you put together a knowledge base for employees? Did you find the process or results helpful? Send an email to email@example.com.
Stay safe out there, drillers.
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