If you read our complete guide to knowledge management, you will know that there is a lot of work involved in these types of projects and we believe there is a better way to do knowledge management. The TerminusCMS way.
Quite often, a knowledge management project stops at a knowledge management portal for employees and customers. While this is a good initiative for sharing knowledge in written, pictorial, and video formats, these types of portals often get neglected, underused, and quickly become stagnant.
Our guide to knowledge management blurs the lines between knowledge management and information management. This is intentional. Knowledge is –
“facts, information, and skills acquired through experience or education; the theoretical or practical understanding of a subject.”
These facts in an organization are data. Data plays an important role in knowledge management as when you combine it with content, documentation, and assets, you build more context and with this context more value for users and the business in general.
The TerminusCMS way to do knowledge management
One of the problems of knowledge management projects is that they become a burden – a burden for –
- IT teams, one more system to support for already overloaded teams.
- Domains, duplication of work, or additional tasks to maintain the KM platform.
In order for knowledge management projects to be successful they must do two interconnected things. Provide value and be adopted by employees. KM projects will not provide value without the latter.
In order for a knowledge management system to provide value and be adopted, it must –
- Treat content and documentation as data so that it is queryable and machine-readable.
- Remove content and data silos to bridge the gap between both.
- Model the relationships between data, content, and business logic to provide meaning to knowledge.
- Avoid adding to a domain’s workload, make it a part of their role.
- Choose a platform that is aimed at developers and IT professionals.
- Aim to reduce the technical burden of IT.
So how does TerminusCMS address these topics? Before we address this question, a quick look at what TerminusCMS is –
TerminusCMS is an open-source headless content and knowledge management system. It stores data as JSON documents and connects these in a knowledge graph. It is bound by a schema, that can be built with code or a user interface, and this forms the model for your enterprise knowledge management. The schema can include content, transactional data, operational data, and media.
It comes with an Admin UI for users to curate content and data directly into the backend. Content curation can also be facilitated in the front end. Devs can quickly and efficiently build websites and applications using GraphQL and REST APIs connected to the schema-driven document frames.
The database layer features user authentication, version control, and change request workflows so that user access and approval processes can be established to match the methodologies of the business and its teams.
On top of the content and data schema and database is an analytics engine to enable developers to build and discover from organization-wide knowledge. Using a combination of GraphQL, Datalog, and graph database relationships, devs can make information discoverable and useable, and also integrate artificial intelligence and machine learning into the knowledge management database.
Treating content and documentation like data
Portals, intranets, and other knowledge management delivery systems often rely on unstructured data – Excel files, Word documents, and PDFs for example. These types of files do not help for discovery, analytics, or unification of communications.
TerminusCMS stores this information as JSON documents that are machine-readable and fully indexed. Humans and machines can search the entirety of content and documentation. This also means that information within TerminusCMS can be reused across different content pieces. Front-end devs can then display this information how they wish, via websites, as PDFs, applications, or in Excel format.
Product marketing produces a product specification PDF, which is created in Word and converted to PDF. It features product components, packaging details, a general product overview, and other relevant product information.
Instead of using Word, product management use TerminusCMS. They have a simple user interface they use to input all of the relevant data. This information, when approved, is displayed on the external website, customer services applications, on the Intranet, and is also available to download as a PDF.
Further down the line, management wants to make changes to a product component to make it cheaper to produce. They need to see which products use this component. A quick search lists all product specifications that include this component.
Treating content and documentation like data
As discussed in this article’s introduction, data plays an important role in knowledge management. TerminusCMS can combine, often hidden and underutilized, transactional and operational data within the knowledge schema.
Data is easy to import from other databases, applications, and external sources using GraphQL and REST APIs. The TerminusCMS schema details the relationships between documentation/content and data and this removes silos and adds context to those who need it.
Operations want to improve the manufacturing process to focus the factory resources where it matters. Using a combination of operational data, transactional data, and product content, the developer team provides a dashboard, using the TerminusCMS UI SDK, to show the time spent manufacturing different products and the transactional figures for each product. This provides operations and leadership with the information they require to improve manufacturing processes to focus on where the profit is.
Relationships between content and data
Under the hood of TerminusCMS is an RDF graph database. Graph databases plot relationships and data as we think about things in the real world and are ideal for understanding the complexities of large businesses.
The data, content, and documentation within TerminusCMS have their relationships connected by the schema enabling better discoverability and understanding of everything stored within TerminusCMS.
A marketing professional for a large food manufacturer wants to run a campaign focused on gluten-free products. Prior to TerminusCMS, they need to go through the product list and manually check ingredients. With TerminusCMS they are able to search for products that do not contain gluten and include them in their campaign saving considerable time.
Procurement is having difficulty sourcing material for a component, this component is used in many products and will impact production and customers. Prior to TerminusCMS, the process of extracting this data from several sources is a challenge and time-consuming for the data team. With TerminusCMS, devs are able to quickly build a GraphQL query to find out the products reliant on the component, and the customers who purchase these products.
Day-to-day knowledge management
Typically, a knowledge management portal involves adding documents and information to something like SharePoint. This is additional work for domains and is a fundamental flaw in current KM projects that leads to neglect and out-of-date information.
The TerminusCMS approach looks to embed knowledge management into the day-to-day tasks and activities of employees. It aims to avoid duplication of work or adding to employees’ existing commitments. It does this through the schema, the model for content and data, which forms the basis for data and content curation. TerminusCMS automatically creates the data fields based on the schema and users can curate content and data using the Admin UI, or with a front-end application built on top of it.
TerminusCMS also features workflow management so that if a user publishes, edits, or deletes a piece of content, documentation, or data, a colleague or manager can view, approve, reject, or request edits. Workflows can be customized to match the methodologies of teams to fit business practices.
An HR professional has an update to policy to release. Rather than creating a policy in Word and then publishing it to gather dust, they can add the details into TerminusCMS which is served to one or many front ends.
Alternatively, going back to the product management example earlier, rather than creating a PDF product specification saved to a central repository or uploading it to an intranet, adding the specification to TerminusCMS means that this information is discoverable and usable across the organization.
IT professionals have various forms of dread in their roles. Adhoc ill-thought-out requests for data, the sudden need for a new dashboard, and getting involved in content and document management systems.
The latter dread often resolves around having to work with outdated software, problematic plugin architectures, and the need to use proprietary code to make things work. It is slow and unfulfilling work and keeps talented developers away from key projects.
TerminusCMS is standards-based and aims to provide devs with the tools to make their job easier and more enjoyable. With data stored as JSON and graph relationships as RDF, TerminusCMS combines the ease and simplicity of JSON with the advanced query power of RDF.
Front-end developers are not shackled by a particular framework, they can build applications and websites using their preference and use GraphQL and REST API endpoints to utilize the content, documentation, and data within TerminusCMS.
TerminusCMS requires far fewer developer hours to implement and maintain. When your teams don’t have to fight your software, you save an incredible amount of time. At the core of any larger content infrastructure is code, and the more efficiently you can implement and maintain it, the more time/money you save.
Fewer developer hours reduce costs and allow resources to be focused on critical projects.
Reduce technical burden
Large organizations have a huge arsenal of software, applications, and databases to support. Combine this with the IT infrastructure and the many ETL processes to move data around the organization and your IT professionals become heavily bogged down with the task of managing and maintaining, leaving little room for growth and innovation.
TerminusCMS aims to reduce the technical burden for IT professionals at the front and back end of operations. Because TerminusCMS is designed to incorporate content and documentation, as well as data, it can function across departments to remove the need for team-specific applications, lowering the support requirements.
By embarking on your knowledge management project with TerminusCMS you are likely to have a well-thought-out and defined schema that models the data, content, and documentation requirements of your teams. Although this is additional work at the beginning of the project, it is time and resource efficient for future needs. Ad-hoc data requests will reduce as the model already incorporates data and content from the business, and random dashboards are easier and faster to build. Then there are the ETL pipelines, much reduced and more manageable due to TerminusCMS’ schema-driven model.
Get Started with TerminusCMS
TerminusCMS is open source and can be installed locally. Start for free with our Community hosted package and scale when you need.
Install or sign up to TerminusCMS to see how it can help take your knowledge management project to the next level. Talk to us on Discord or Reddit to discuss your requirements or ask questions. Alternatively, contact us for a demo.