Microsoft OneNote: Deploy a Service Center Knowledgebase Using OneNote and SharePoint

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Introduction

Microsoft OneNote and SharePoint are perfect partners for creating and deploying access controlled knowledgebases in a collaborative environment. In this article I will explore the process that one small company followed to create a fully functional knowledgebase, used by their service center, to support a major annual conference. The knowledgebase was used to answer member inquiries about the event.

The Setup

Microsoft SharePoint

The service center had an existing team site that they used to share information with each other. The site had access controls that limit access to the site to service center members only. They used the site to collaborate with each other through the use of a shared calendar, shared documents library, discussion lists, and announcements lists.

To prepare for the OneNote knowledgebase, the site administrator created a new document library to store the notebook. Organization leadership determined that only a few key power users should be able to add content to the knowledgebase.

All other users would have read-only access. So, the SharePoint team site administrator assigned access controls to the new library. Key content providers were assigned contributor privileges, while all other service center members were assigned read-only privileges.

Microsoft OneNote

The site administrator created a new notebook in OneNote and selected to allow multiple people to share it on a server. She pasted the URL of the SharePoint library as the Path of the notebook and clicked Create.

To populate the new notebook, the admin took into account her past experiences and existing materials used to support past conferences. She created the following sections (tabs) in the new notebook:

  • Pre-conference Information
  • Volunteer Information
  • Travel/Lodging Information
  • Hotel Information
  • Ticketed Sessions
  • Conference Fee Information
  • Complimentary Admission Information
  • Bulk/Group Registration Information
  • Information from Meetings Department

Features that contributed to product success

Remote Accessibility

Every service center member has remote access to the organization's network and phone system. Two major weather events took place in the months preceding the conference resulting in building closures lasting for several days. Members of the service center were able to access their phones, network, and knowledgebase from home and conduct business as usual.

It was transparent to the callers that the organization's headquarters building was closed and that their phone call was being handled at a personal residence. Staff simply connected into the network via their work laptop and opened the knowledgebase in OneNote. Updated information was automatically synched to each laptop.

Search

OneNote's search capabilities were, by far, the feature that set the tool apart. Service center staff members were able to search across multiple sections and pages to quickly find the answers they needed. OneNote's ability to search text in an image also came in handy on several occasions.

Screen Clipping Tool

Content creators used OneNote's screen clipping tool to capture an image and URL link to each of the major hotels and restaurants located near the conference center and store them on one page in OneNote.

Integration with Microsoft Office

All relevant emails from the other departments were stored in the knowledgebase, providing a single location for the service center staff to access important messages. Using the Send to OneNote feature in Outlook, content creators were able to quickly add entire email messages, including date and sender information, into the shared notebook.

Having all relevant emails stored in one location decreased search time and eliminated the need to have duplicate versions of the same email exist in everyone's mailbox.

Template for Future Use

OneNote allows existing notebooks to be packaged and saved as template. After the conference was over, the administrator made a copy of the notebook and stripped out all the content, leaving just the empty tabs. She then saved the entire notebook as a OneNote Single File Package that is used to create new notebooks containing the same sections as the original, eliminating the need to create a new notebook from scratch every time.

Summary

Microsoft OneNote and SharePoint work perfectly together to deploy a feature rich knowledgebase that can be accessible from remote locations. Access controls and remote access are provided through SharePoint. OneNote's built in features make it an ideal tool for creating content rich knowledge repositories that can be shared across and organization.

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