SDMB brainstorming needed: cheap and easy knowledge base

I’m on a team at work that needs to keep track of customer questions and the answers. Currently customers submit the questions by email to a specific corporate mailbox that forwards copies to everyone on our team, and of course stores the messages in that mailbox’s inbox. When we reply to answer the question, we copy the mailbox. So the information is currently being archived there, at least.

The problem is that searching Outlook really sucks. I think we need a better tool to store, keep track of (sometimes we need to research before we can answer), and search the questions and answers. We have Sharepoint, but it would be a large chore for someone to copy all that stuff up to Sharepoint and maintain it there. We’re also not impressed with Sharepoint’s search capability. But it’s an option if there’s nothing better.

We also have JIRA, primarily used by our IT department but we could probably ask for access and set up our team as a “project” in it. I’m familiar with JIRA but not sure if it’s easier for this kind of thing than Sharepoint.

Something else? I’ve also used Confluence, a knowledge base product made by the same company as JIRA. We don’t have it but might be able to ask for it, if the price isn’t too high. I doubt they’d buy it just for my team, though.

Any other ideas? We want to keep the email interface with customers instead of using an online forum type of interface. So it would just be a place to keep this stuff in an organized manner that’s easily searchable.

I was going to suggest JIRA before you mentioned it in your post!

How about a wiki?

I started using OSTicket at work for a simple IT helpdesk system that works via email. It needs a Linux server to run on, but it’s free (for the self-hosted version), and pretty simple to use.

It has a built in knowledgebase function for the ticket-answering agents to use, but you could just keep the knowledge in the tickets and search them at will.

Back when I last used JIRA, I only used a small portion of it’s functionality (creating tickets and reporting statistics about said tickets). Would it be fairly simple to attach emails into a project and somehow organize them (likely by topic)? Also, how are it’s search capabilities?

Or for a Windows based solution, take a look at Spiceworks.

Depending on which version and flavor of SharePoint you can set a doclib to be a repository for emails. So folks can archive the Q & any A’s, including attachments by simply emailing to That might be an easy way to get started and by using workflows akin to what you do now the learning curve / But I don’t wanna change whining is minimized.

SharePoint search can be fantastic, or can be shite. It’s a bit of a dark art to make it sing. The OOB capabilities are awesome; the OOB settings, not so much. This too varies a bunch by version and SKU.

I was/am a guru on SharePoint stuff. PM me if you want more.

Where I work we have an in-house-developed software that we use for team collaboration and organization of tasks. Basically, it encompasses many functions, such as creating tasks, sending tasks to others, editing tasks, linking to projects, and so on and so forth. It’s very useful for organization, but not storage.

I think it’ll be better if you broke the process down into two pieces; one where customer queries are received and stored (Outlook), and the other for real-time team communication and updates, for which I highly recommend Slack.

Check it out

Do you have sufficient volume to suggest a ticket tracking system?

The OP hasn’t asked about this topic for the last 8 months. I’ll be interested to hear what she/they finally did about this. If anything.

We haven’t done anything, we kinda suck. We still use a combination of Sharepoint, network shared drive and email. :rolleyes:

We do, however have a team who worships The Process and is forcing (via nagging my boss to death) my team to document all of these document management processes, no matter how many meetings it takes to agree and review and approve. The one process we managed to finish so far outlines how a document gets updated by being tossed hot-potato-style between four teams and outlines in precise detail how it has to be named at which stage of the process and how it’s contents need to be sorted, spelled and cased. I got hassled the other day by a member of the Process Worshippers because I dared to snub The Process by putting the date in the filename.

Corporate America sucks.

Part of my job involves something similar, though the questions are filtered by the client services team (god bless 'em for interfacing with the clients so I don’t have to).

We use JIRA to track the questions and answers, but we’ve found that it’s not an ideal place to house a knowledge base. People report that it’s difficult to search for answers in the Q&As. (JIRA works fine for our IT dev stuff.)

We’re now creating FAQs from the last year’s worth of questions and adding those to a knowledge base page on Wiki.

ETA: Damn; just saw that this is a semi-zombie. I’m going to leave my response anyway, in case it’s helpful.

Most of it does. But not all. It sounds like you’re far too competent for these bozos.

How hard are you working on a replacement job? If not, you’re building yourself an ulcer or other health problems.

I have had my last job wherein I’m willing to work for soul-crushing stupidity and/or craziness. And my physical health is much improved for it. As is my mental.

If you can check out into a state of Zen tranquility and almost total non-work in exchange for the paycheck, more power to you. But your various recent posts indicate to me your Zen is not yet strong Grasshopper.

My advice:
Work on Zen or work on a new job. And do that with far more diligence than you do whatever they ask you to do. They’ll probably never notice the difference.

It is the One True Path to Employment Enlightenment.

Good luck in your journey.

In addition to OSTicket mentioned above, we have started using PHPMyFAQ. it’s very organic and searchable. People can ask questions in it; others can answer them by writing new FAQs or linking to existing ones.

Why, thank you! It’s not totally a bad place, just one of those kind of places where average employee tenure is 15 years so the general attitude is obliviousness that there might be other ways to do things. I’ve only been here two years after working in a range of other places from local government to startup to major F-100 corporation. I KNOW there are other ways to do things. But nobody listens to me because I’m the newbie.

I’m working on a replacement job, yes. It’s going to be VERY zen, I’ll be working for myself if things go well. Then if I bust my ass over not following The Process I established, I’ll change The Process as needed to suit efficient operations because that’s the way I roll. :smiley: