KnowHow’s Product Philosophy: Google for your Company's Processes
This summer, our Co-Founders Leighton Healey and Travis Martin traveled down to Silicon Valley as a part of the Founders Embassy startup accelerator.
While we were there, we discovered a giant problem with the way most organizations do work in 2019. As consumers, we have become accustomed to obtaining the answer to any question we could possibly have within seconds of the thought forming in our brain. Despite having no knowledge of history, I could pull out my phone, or lean over to my Google Assistant, and learn who the Pope was during World War I, or the year hydrogen was discovered, in less time than it takes me to type this sentence.
Yet, in most organizations, this is the exact opposite experience employees have when trying to access company knowledge, procedures, or processes. Getting vital information on the right way to run a sales call, file an expense request, or anything else relevant to me doing my job well is incredibly difficult - in an era so defined by our ability to access knowledge in the moment that we’ve dubbed it “The Information Age”! Why is this?
A problem waiting to be solved
Returning from the Bay Area, we called over 100 managers and employees to ask them questions about their work, access to important knowledge and processes, and what the most aggravating aspects of their job. Here’s what we learned:
- Many managers are not confident their team members are following the right processes (in some cases, this is literally keeping them up at night!)
- Many employees find it difficult to access the processes or procedures necessary to do their jobs well. When they are able to find them, it usually involves interrupting their manager’s workflow, or searching endlessly on internal tools such as shared drives or intranet software.
In this, we determined there was a tremendous opportunity to make work easier, and more efficient, for both remote and centralized teams through a simple software tool that houses company processes - accessible both on mobile and desktop.
We got to work building KnowHow, but we knew if we were going to build a tool that would truly solve the problem of the managers and employees we spoke to (and the millions like them), we would have to build KnowHow carefully and intentionally, around a few specific product philosophies.
Philosophy 1: Employees should be able to access information as easily as consumers do
Philosophy 2: It should be as easy to create a process on KnowHow as it is to write it down on a piece of paper
Over the next two weeks, I'll be unpacking those philosophies, and how they're reflected in the design and experience of our product. We strongly believe that excellent products cling to a few key truths and don't deviate from them. We're proud of the foundation that KnowHow was built on, and the path we've taken to get there.
Philosophy 1: Instant Access to Information
While conducting customer research this summer, we learned the main reason employees don’t consistently follow company processes isn’t because they don’t want to, it’s because doing so isn’t very easy! So we sought to change that, by making it easier than ever to find, and follow, the right process, right when it’s needed. We accomplished by prioritizing three things above everything else:
Our product team used Google as our inspiration here. In the same way Google’s algorithms can predict what we’re searching for before we finish typing, KnowHow gets to work trying to find the right process for you after just a few keystrokes.
We went deep on our search tool because we knew of its importance in the moment, when an employee is setting up their development environment for the first time, or about to hop into a sales meeting.
Google has taught us to rely on algorithms working hard behind the scene to connect us to what we want to look for instantaneously. We’re proud to have created similar functionality on KnowHow.
When chatting with employees about what barriers they encounter to following company processes, we discovered that even if a system or procedure was documented, variability in styling and important details led to it being an unreliable source for employees.
For this reason, every process on KnowHow is standardized with the same format. Whether the subject is deeply technical, purely administrative, or anywhere in between, processes on KnowHow all have the same structure: a title & description, steps to complete, and any additional details or resources needed. This allows employees to easily jump into a brand new process and instantly connect with and understand the content.
Available on Desktop or Mobile
This was a must-have for a remote workforce, whether they’re a distributed team working across multiple cities, or a mix of front-line and office workers. Consistent with our philosophy, we needed to ensure that employees everywhere were only seconds away from the information they needed to do their jobs well.
We’ve streamlined KnowHow on mobile for finding the company process you’re looking for and working through it without any distractions. Being a cloud-based solution, all changes made to any process are instantly reflected on every user’s mobile and desktop device, so they are always following the most up-to-date version of a company’s know-how.
In the next week’s blog, we’ll unpack the features that were borne out of KnowHow’s second product philosophy. In the meantime, you can test out this product philosophy firsthand by signing up for KnowHow yourself with the link below.