Don’t be a silo

White silo on plant field
Photo by Joshua Michaels on Unsplash

When I began working in tech support, I relied on our knowledge base to get me through. If no one was around and I didn’t know the answer to a customer’s question, I’d scour the documentation for clues. I usually found what I was looking for, saving time and sanity.

“No one should be a silo,” said our system administrator.

It’s dangerous when a person stores all her knowledge in her head without sharing it with the rest of the team. Anything could happen. Like a pandemic.

Each of us took a sick leave at least once. There were times I was the only one manning the phones and emails since we’re a small team of three. Without documentation, I’d be lost. The team wrote down everything we could think of. Even gotchas, features in systems that invite mistakes.

On the rare occasions when it’s not so busy, my favourite activity is reviewing our knowledge base and improving existing articles. For example, Microsoft 365 changes its security and compliance interfaces regularly, so it’s good to polish our internal documentation about client-specific Microsoft 365 procedures.

When in doubt, check the documentation. Whoever created the knowledge base article has gone through the most difficult part already, so learn from it. When someone acts as a silo and stores up all that valuable info, the team becomes less effective and less efficient.