Searching for the top knowledge management vendor is like searching for the top vehicle manufacturer—a simple search turns up countless recommendations. You can find a lot of best-this and best-that lists online, but many lists fail to mention the ‘best’ solution listed isn’t the best choice for everyone. The ‘best solution’ sounds good….but best for what use case, for what budget, what variable was used to put the list together?
Many software products contain a knowledge component, so your decision should be based on what you need a knowledge management software to do; some solutions are long-term investments, others not so much.
How to choose the best knowledge management vendor
To select the best knowledge management vendor, first understand the categories of knowledge management solutions on the market; some API-first knowledge management solutions are enterprise-class and integrate easily with other products; other knowledge solutions are inexpensive and designed for small businesses. Each vendor on this list serves a category of the knowledge market—each product they offer allows you to store, serve, and analyze knowledge, all are built for different use cases.
Knowledge base vs knowledge management software
Many people use knowledge base and knowledge management interchangeably, but they are in fact different. If a solution allows you to analyze and do something with knowledge beyond storage it should be classified as a knowledge management solution and NOT just a knowledge base.
Knowledge management solutions are classified into subcategories like knowledge sharing tools, internal wikis, or dedicated knowledge management platforms; a knowledge management platform often serves as the source of truth for all articles, documents, and other content types in a company.
Some products in KM categories (like wikis) can integrate with a company’s source of truth for knowledge; by integrating, answers remain consistent application to application. Knowledge can be surfaced from the hub to any solution that requires knowledge.
These different levels of knowledge management—what we at Shelf have coined the knowledge maturity curve—illustrates this concept.
Understand your position on the knowledge maturity curve
From left to right, each phase of the knowledge maturity curve allows end users like customers or support agents to access knowledge easier, in more contexts; many companies graduate from a simple knowledge base that stores information to a knowledge management system complete with automation capabilities.
Simply put: all KM solutions allow you to do something with knowledge, but the level of complexity varies.
Questions to ask before you select a knowledge management vendor
Make sure you know what use case the knowledge solution will be used for to ensure what you select will serve its purpose for at least a few years.
Here are a few questions you should be able to answer before searching for knowledge management vendors:
- Are you searching for a single source of truth as a knowledge manager? (Your company has too much knowledge siloed off in different applications)
- Is the use case internal or external?–will customers or employees benefit most?
- Must the knowledge solution include other, more important features like ticketing?
Knowledge category: knowledge as an infrastructure
- Enterprise contact centers; Serving answers to agents and customers using AI
- Automating answer delivery after ingesting customer intent signals (chatbots, other platforms)
- Companies having trouble managing knowledge silos
- Creating a knowledge infrastructure; a source of truth for all other solutions that require knowledge
Shelf’s enterprise-class knowledge management solution focuses on one thing: good answers. A modern knowledge management platform, the Shelf platform serves as the knowledge hub for brands with contact centers and large customer bases like HelloFresh, Glovo, and Gerber Life. The product’s API-first architecture enables companies to centralize their knowledge silos to one location, integrate directly with support channels agents use, and serve better answers over time using Shelf’s award-winning AI engine.
As an enterprise knowledge management solution, Shelf provides the knowledge authoring, maintenance, and machine learning capabilities you’d expect.
Knowledge category: project management
- Companies that need an environment to collaborate on projects
- Creating internal knowledge articles
Atlassian, the maker of software development and collaboration tools, plays in the knowledge management space with its Confluence product. Confluence serves as a corporate wiki to help teams collaborate in one place, from anywhere in the world. Cross-department teams can easily share ideas and projects in one place, create project plans, and select from a variety of project templates to stay organized.
Confluence can scale as your organization grows, and contains features commonly reserved for enterprise knowledge management solutions like:
- Document management
- Versioning for pages and files
- Project template libraries
If you need to manage and share company knowledge across a small or large team, Confluence offers a free trial and nice out-of-the-box functionality (like permissioning) for most of its paid packages.
Knowledge category: Help desk
- Growing companies needing an out-of-the-box way to manage customer relationships from one place
- Businesses that need a powerful help desk solution
- Serving customers articles prior to ticket submission
Zendesk provides customer service software designed to give customer support teams a simple front end portal to manage tickets and share information. The software includes a knowledge base for organizing information specifically within the support environment.
Zendesk serves knowledge to customers primarily using articles and predefined ticket responses; These articles can either be added natively or integrated from your company’s source of truth—where it adds or updates articles and other content types.
Knowledge category: Content management
- Small and growing companies that need to organize knowledge
- Anyone that needs a simple self-service knowledge base, not a help desk
- Creating customizable templates to match your company’s brand
CloudTutorial offers a simple, easy-to-use product to help companies create a knowledge base for the first time. This solution can serve as an internal or external knowledge base, corporate Wiki website, FAQ or Help site, or used personally for storing notes, documents, and other files.
Out of all the knowledge options available, CloudTutorial offers an affordable solution for small companies starting to receive customer inquiries. The product doesn’t include integrations you’d expect with an enterprise-class knowledge solution, but has a few cool features out of the box, like basic workflows, customized forms, and customizable branding.
Knowledge category: internal workspace knowledge
- Managing internal articles and documentation
- Team collaboration
Docs, project management, wikis—Notion delivers on all three of these in a simple platform that makes working with your team easier.
Notion combines knowledge with every day work to give context to anything happening in your organization–from projects to vacation policies. Many people use Notion for personal knowledge management—things like organizing your reading list or organizing notes and ideas.
Knowledge category: Customer success and community
- Building a user community
- Organizing product-specific questions and knowledge
- Publishing user-generated knowledge
InSided is a Gainsight product to help you organize community and product-specific knowledge. The platform is great if you need a place where your customers can start message board topics if they have a problem that requires specialized knowledge.
Outside of building a user community, if you simply need a searchable catalogue of articles to help customers self-serve, inSided provides some basic authoring tools you’d expect in a good knowledge product.
With InSided, you can gather product feedback, build a user community for the first time, and give customers an outlet to ask questions to your team and their peers.
Knowledge category: Work operating system
- Organizing streams of content work
- Sharing projects and leaving comments
- Managing streams of work for content teams
- Customizing the UI to meet your needs
Monday.com is perfect if you are looking for a way to manage a heavy content workload for your internal team. The platform allows you to upload files to create a basic knowledge base; if your team needs a place to store a handful of image files or docs associated with a project, Monday should have all the basic knowledge base functionality you need.
Search functionality allows you to quickly find a task or piece of knowledge linked to one of your project boards. Monday is a good out-of-the-box solution to manage any kind of project with a deadline, a project owner, and common file types like images. This grid-based solution also includes a lot of customization options for adding project statuses, and displaying all the columns you need for your project board.
Download our Buyer’s Guide for Smarter Knowledge Management
A smarter knowledge management solution enables you to serve knowledge to customers using AI, improves with time, and makes knowledge available in any support channel your customers prefer.
Download our buyer’s guide for smarter knowledge management for a deeper dive at what a next-gen knowledge management solution looks like, and why a poor-performing knowledge base could be degrading your brand’s customer experience.