KnowHow's Product Philosophy Pt. 2 - Easier Than a Pad of Paper

KnowHow's Product Philosophy Pt. 2 - Easier Than a Pad of Paper
Travis Parker Martin
Travis Parker Martin
Co-Founder | Vice President of Product
Getting answers on the internet has never been easier.

In our first blog post, we discussed the odd disparity between finding information as a consumer, and finding information as an employee. While world knowledge has been easier to access than ever before, finding the information you need to succeed at your job is still surprisingly tough.
This is for a few reasons:
  • Most of the expertise required to function in your job is not universally applicable: it’s specific to your workplace, market, and role within the organization
  • The knowledge required to complete any one task likely only exists in a manager’s head, until they communicate it to others or document it somehow
  • The process of documenting processes is cumbersome, which leads to this task being put off, or processes quickly becoming out-of-date
We knew that if we were going to make it easier than ever for an employee to access a company process or procedure, we had to make it equally easy for a manager to define that process or procedure on KnowHow.

In this blog post, we’ll go into detail on exactly how we did this, by unpacking our second product vision:

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

Pain Unresolved

While interviewing managers prior to building KnowHow, we discovered that some companies were trying to solve the problem of inaccessible company processes by using cloud storage software tools such as Dropbox or Google Drive.

Yet, these solutions often created new problems. Once an organization scaled beyond a dozen team members, the file structure was becoming so complicated that employees would need training just so they could find what they were looking for! Additionally, if different managers had different ways of communicating information, the processes they created in Google Docs could look wildly different, leading to confusion among their team members.

Other software tools (such as Process Street or Tallyfy) have tried to solve the same problem as KnowHow, but have done so by creating software tools that, while thorough and feature-rich, are complicated and cumbersome to set up.

To put it in the words of one manager: "All I need is a tool that allows me to create a simple process that I can send to Joe Employee, who can easily access it." Such a thing didn't yet exist.

Re-inventing the notepad

We set out to build a product for this manager, and every other one like her. We knew that processes on KnowHow would need to be standardized, but simple. Easy enough for a technophobic manager to transfer their expertise in a matter of minutes, but structured enough that teams of 20, 50, or 100 could use it without becoming chaotic.

Basically, we needed to reinvent the notepad, for company processes. Simple with no instructions needed, yet structured so it could be easily discovered and interpreted by anyone in any department.

We went about accomplishing this through three primary features:

Frictionless Creation

One of our biggest priorities when building KnowHow was ensuring that it was remarkably easy for a user to take ideas in their head and transpose them into a step-by-step process.

Many of our competitors have struggled here, building tools that require lengthy training in order to use. We knew we needed to design KnowHow like a pad of paper: when you know what you’re writing, the pencil and paper fade into the background, and all you focus on are the words.

So we made KnowHow ridiculously simple to use. One line to describe the next task to be completed, with optional details available if need be. No onboarding, no required fields, and no managing workflows. KnowHow, getting into a process creation flow state becomes incredibly easy, as anyone can describe their process as easily as jotting it down on a piece of paper.

Utterly Flexible

At the same time, we knew that if a simple pad of paper was sufficient to share processes with a team, then most organizations would run on a pad of paper (which they don’t).

In addition to being accessible for anyone to use, KnowHow would have to scale up and allow administrators to provide in depth detail, resources, and links, if they needed them. In a sentence, KnowHow had to provide both wide and deep functionality; not cluttering a user’s experience with features that were irrelevant to them, but also ensuring that, if they needed it, those features were there.

The end result is a tool that allows users to attach documents, embed videos, modify timelines and link to external resources, all while keeping it streamlined.

Whether you have a deep understanding of every detail of the process, or just the high-level bullet points, KnowHow is flexible enough to allow you to codify your knowledge in a step-by-step format in a matter of minutes. At any time afterwards, you can edit or add detail to your process with the click of a button.

Clear, replicable, standardized structure

The best part about conducting interviews with over a hundred managers and employees prior to building KnowHow was the new insights we uncovered that we could have never predicted.

One of the biggest pains we discovered was among organizations of more than 20 people that had already documented their processes on Google Drive, Dropbox, or Sharepoint. These companies had multiple managers codifying their internal know-how, but because of different working/writing styles, it wasn’t easy for an employee to find, read, and implement a company process. Different managers would structure their processes in different ways, and confusing file/folder structures meant many employees, even if they were able to find the right process, didn’t necessarily know how to implement it.

KnowHow resolves this problem with its standardized process format, optimizing for action-oriented, step-by-step guidance that focuses on what the reader should do next. With KnowHow, every process has the same structure, so employees can fluidly move between different processes from different people without running into any hurdles.

Additionally, we made the bold decision at KnowHow to not have file folders. Instead, we focused hard on optimizing search, in order to ensure that employees did not need to focus on remembering a file structure in order to access important company information. A few keywords, or even the manager’s name, is all that’s necessary for employees find the process they need.

Evolution

We view KnowHow as a digital evolution of the notepad or heavy process binder. Yet, while KnowHow is already making work easier for teams from coast to coast, the product will continue to evolve and grow over time. As it does, it will be our central product philosophies that will shape and guide its features to better enable teams to work confidently and with greater impact. Try it out for yourself by clicking the form below.