We often get asked whether SharePoint is a good base technology for knowledge management (KM). The answer to this is yes, and we’ve seen many of our clients use SharePoint to support and even drive their KM efforts. However, KM is not just about technology, and a flexible and powerful platform like SharePoint has to be used in the right way. 

In this article we’re going to explore the use of SharePoint for KM and illustrate some of the ways it can be used with reference to some best practice examples.

What is Knowledge Management?

Knowledge management (KM) is a very important activity for most organisations and is critical for industry sectors such as professional services, engineering, energy and more. KM has many definitions but at a high level it is concerned with the capture, storage, dissemination, sharing and re-use of knowledge throughout the enterprise.

KM is mature and has been around for almost thirty years. Despite coming in and out of fashion, its never really gone away. In recent years KM has continued to be highly relevant and has even gone through a renaissance; KM teams are now playing an important role in helping build the right foundations to drive impactful AI and automation.

Can SharePoint be used as a knowledge management system?

A KM system is never just about technology. It’s also about the associated roles and processes that help to capture, codify, disseminate and manage knowledge within an organisation. However, SharePoint provides a robust base technology for a KM system that can support everything from facilitating the finding of experts to establishing specialist collections of knowledge to document automation. One of the strengths of SharePoint is its flexibility and scalability to meet multiple KM-related use cases.  There also often rely on additional tools from across Microsoft 365 and the Microsoft stack including Viva Engage, Microsoft Teams and even Copilot.

Eight SharePoint Knowledge Management best practice examples

Let’s explore how we can use SharePoint for knowledge management.

1. Expertise location

A key knowledge management area is expertise location, helping employees find the experts throughout their organisation on particular topics, or facilitating questions and answers. This is primarily done through people profiles which might list the different areas of expertise and relevant experience a person has.

SharePoint intranets excel with expertise location, usually by providing an employee directory based on Delve profiles where expertise can be searched for, usually via the intranet. Employee profiles should provide information about a person’s role, but also their areas of expertise such as sector specialisms, technical knowledge and proficiencies such as languages spoken. s. Controlled metadata can ensure these expertise areas march an organisation’s taxonomy and allow users to search using appropriate filters to find the expert they need.

SharePoint’s flexibility also creates other possibilities. For example, we have created profiles that link to a SharePoint database of projects and display which ones a person has worked upon within their profile.

2. Communities of Practice

Communities of Practice (CoP) are a stalwart of KM systems and drive knowledge sharing within professional communities grouped around particular domains, topics or practices. For example, there might be a CoP dedicated to artificial intelligence, commercial property law or Agile methodologies.

Microsoft Viva Engage (formerly Yammer) is an excellent platform for community discussions and interaction and is often used successfully to support CoPs. SharePoint has a couple of out-of-the-box Viva Engage web parts that means a CoP can be effortlessly integrated into a SharePoint intranet – potentially to add news, documents and events relating to a CoP – and support broader knowledge sharing.

3. Knowledge collections and bases

Sometimes knowledge is structured and organised in a way that helps employees to find knowledge on a specific topic through a particular collection of knowledge, or a knowledge base. For example, this could be information on different projects, a collection of FAQs or a knowledge base of “How Do I” information. It could even be a collection of media assets. Within all these examples, knowledge usually needs to be formatted and codified in a standardised way so then it be more easily found.

SharePoint is a strong platform for organising specific knowledge collections or knowledgebases – this could be either pages or documents or both. It has the flexibility to create different templates and also add controlled tags and metadata to codify knowledge. You can then create ways for employees to find what they need either through browsing or through searching the collection and make this available through a SharePoint intranet.

We’ve created many different knowledge collections – from the policy library that is at the core of our Xoralia policy management software – to creating a custom global knowledge-sharing platform for a global consulting firm to support their client work.

4. Topic pages or knowledge hubs

Topic pages are an example of a knowledge collection, but they are frequently found on intranets. They usually provide a curated list or gateway to different knowledge resources – including experts – on a particular subject and might also include news and updates. A topic page may also be connected to a related Community of Practice, for example with an embedded Viva Engage community.

Topic pages was one of the outputs of Microsoft Viva Topic; this used AI and automation to help create the topic page. However, Microsoft recently announced that this will be discontinued in 2025. SharePoint is still a very good base technology for creating curated topic pages that might include links to knowledge resources, documents, news, updates, a list of experts, a discussion group, events and more.

5. Search and findability

Managing search and improving findability is a key activity for all intranet and digital workplace teams, but it often has crossover with KM. It’s not unusual for a KM team to be looking after search. Here, the KM team will be usually looking to add controlled metadata that aligns with a corporate taxonomy in order to improve search relevance and also add filtering options for employees to help find what they need.

Search is always to improve but SharePoint and Microsoft search in general are actually very robust, particularly as often most content and documents resides within an organization’s Microsoft 365 tenant and can be searched. SharePoint provides a flexible solution to also create customer search experiences. For example, you can add multiple custom filters to allow users to perform specific searches; these can also be added to create a custom people search.

The sheer flexibility of SharePoint also means you can also create contextual searches for particular knowledge collections or areas, such as just searching through projects or HR knowledge. Our Lightspeed intranet floating search web part allows you to embed an attractive search box anywhere on a page to deliver contextual search.

6. Model documents and automation

Model documents is another focus area for KM teams. Model documents are effectively templates for complex documents that can then be completed for particular purposes both saving huge amounts of time, but also ensuring they follow best practices and are in the right format. Model documents might be used for contracts, NDAs or other types of legal use cases. A model document can then also leverage workflow and intelligent automation to create a final version, saving huge amounts of time and cost, for example inserting the right client name in or building the document based on particular criteria.

SharePoint Premium (formerly SharePoint Syntex) provides exciting capabilities to build model documents and accompanying automation and workflow. We’ve found this is of particular interest to professional services firms and in-house legal teams who work with model documents at scale.

7. Project reviews

During any project usually there are documents, presentations and even frameworks that could easily be reused on other projects, not only saving time and costs, but also helping drive project success and even sparking new ideas. Project reviews are processes that occur when a project finishes or reaches a particular milestone. As part of the review, any valuable knowledge that could be shared is identified and then potentially put into a format that makes it easily reusable.  

We’ve created business solutions based on SharePoint that support project reviews, for example allowing a project manager to trigger a workflow once a project is finished and make specified knowledge available to share within the intranet, as well as specific project information.

8. Support generative AI and automation

Generative AI and automation work best when they have the right foundations including using the right metadata, training any bot on the right document set, ensuring the right data management rules are place, and more. KM teams have a critical role to play in supporting generative AI so that it drives real value.

Many organizations are considering using Microsoft Copilot or are deploying OpenAI services for Azure in order to be able to navigate data privacy concerns. Here documents based on SharePoint are likely to provide a major set of the content that is interrogated to provide results. The structure of SharePoint can help KM teams to better manage the set of documents and the data that will effectively feed your generative AI efforts.

Using SharePoint for knowledge management

SharePoint is a robust and flexible platform to support knowledge management, particularly when combined with other Microsoft 365 tools including Viva Engage. This means a SharePoint intranet can be a good base to use for popular knowledge management use cases such as expert location. SharePoint also provides a strong platform to build a custom, comprehensive knowledge solution.

If you’d like to discuss using SharePoint for KM or any of the examples shown above, then get in touch!