You know the absolute worst thing about information.. trying to find it when you need it..
You know its there, you know you had that documented, but where? Teams, Slack, Confluence, Jira, email.. Where was it?
What if i told you that there is a SaaS service out there which you can ASK Teams or Slack and a bot will come back with what you need.
Well take a look at this video...
Guru does the same thing with Teams as well.
Its a shame I have to keep putting these up, however there are people who think i profit from these posts. I don't, i take no money from anyone and ask for no money or discounts. I pay for the product because I find it useful and then blog about it to share that information.
While I'm at it, i cannot spell, my grammar is terrible, I know. However if you spent as much time on the content as you do pedanting over my prose. Well the world might be a little bit of a nice place.
So what is Guru.com
At its core Guru is Knowledge Management as a service, its a web hosted platform which is fundamentally a Wiki, with a nice Gui wrapped around it
This may to the more technical reader start down the "well i could spin up mediawiki and do the same thing" road, and you'd be somewhat correct. However Guru isn't designed for this type of documentation. Its designed to be business user friendly.
Getting information into Guru
The most important aspect of any Knowledge system is the information found within it, as such there needs to be some methods of getting data into it there are 4 core methods for geting data into Guri
For me this was the key method of getting data in as when I first used Guru about 4 years ago the business was looking to migrate away from a self hosted Confluence installation. Considering at time of writing Atlassian is now going cloud only that was a very forward thinking move. Guru out of the box has the ability to do an import from Confluence.
How to Migrate Content into Guru from Confluence
Exporting Content out of Confluence
- In Confluence, Go to the Page/Space you would like to import to Guru (You can click on the Spaces dropdown to access all your spaces). If you'd like to remove the version history from your Confluence import, you'll need to make a new space, and use copy functionality to copy the page tree from the original space to the new space. The new space will be where you export from.
- Click Space Settings located on the left-hand panel
- Select Content Tools from the dropdown menu.
- On the Content Tools page, select the Export tab
- Select XML and then click Next.
- Make sure Custom Report is selected. Then deselect "include comments" and all the Pages (this is to save time on your export from Confluence). Then select all the Pages you would like to export.
- Click Export. Confluence will now begin to load an export directory for your Confluence Space. It may take some time depending on the file sizes.
- Once the process is completed, click Download Here to save the zipped file of your Confluence Pages.
Importing your Confluence Content into Guru
You must be an Author in the Collection to import content into that Collection.
- Once you have a zipped file of your Confluence Space, go to Team Settings in the Guru web app.
- Click the Collections tab.
- Click the Collection Settings wheel in the top right of the Collection where you want to import the Confluence content.
- Select Import Content and then Confluence.
- Click Select Confluence Zip File, and choose the downloaded zip file from Confluence.
- Your file will be uploaded to the migrator tool, and the job will be queued. Due to the nature of these jobs, the general waiting time can exceed 30 minutes. An email will be sent once this migration is complete.
There are also similar imports from Zendesk and Desk.com however I've never used them.
This import of about 2000 records didn't take long and because it uses the XML export the data including images, formatting and indexes was kept in tact.
Compared to Word the editor is a pretty sparce looking thing, however thats the point, its clean.
Highlighting text allows the user to quickly change headings, fonts or put in code blocks.
I've tested the editor on all the major browsers at time of writing and it behaves on all of them. Its very responsive and having added some VERY long documents to my own knowledgebase it handles masses of content really well too.
For me its important that this editor exists, I've worked for many places where poeple have a habit of uploading Word or Powertpoint files into a KB which cannot be Indexed. Using the editor right and linking to those documents in Sharepoint or somewhere else is still allowed.
The Chrome Extention
I'll confess of all the mechinisms for getting data into Guru this is the one I use the least
Its for no other reason I have not built it into my aging brains workflow yet.
Sat in the Chrome toolbar the Extention provides quick access to most of the features of Guru in a sidebar and has the nice popup editor as well which has as you would expect the same features as the main editor.
The editor will stay above the webpage you are working on so if you're creating a KB article from the page its easy to copy and past the information over.
For me this is the killer workflow feature for a business.
There are bots for Slack or Microsoft Teams, and having access to the companies KB within these two Chat apps allows for a single pane of glass approach as most of us spend most of the day in Teams or Slack at work.
I posted at the start how this works with Slack, this is how it works with Teams
Either on Slack or Teams for me this is the products killer feature and I cannot say this enough.
If you look at Guru as only a place to put support KB articles, howtos and other guides this provides engineers the access they need in an interface they feel comfortable with to not only look up data but to add data as well.
Now expand that out to HR Documents, Governance, Compliance and other information. Blog posts, Technical diagrams, previous Major incident reports.. All available in Teams or Slack.
If you run a helpdesk you'll know just how powerful this is AND it works on the phone app.
Knowledge is at its most powerful when it is familiar to us, and Guru provides a whole heap of predefined temaplates from workflows, to governance, product lifecycle and more to ensure when a staff member opens a KB article they wile a consistent well known layout.
I've only just started using these and they do make a difference.
Becoming a single source of information truth
Having ingressed the data into the Guru KB how to you ensure that it is an accurate Single Source of truth? there is no point having an article which is out of date or duplicates.
This is another feature I love about Guru the verification, when you create an article you create it with for want of a better phrase a shelf life say 90 days. After 90 days the Article will still be available to egress in all forms however it will state that it is not verified.
The verification model forces you to ensure that the data in your Kb is up to date, is checked and still valid.
Every company has them, every team has them and when you are setting up users, you can tag people as one.
Once you know them in Guru, you can ask them questions. Ask experts, ask teams, ask Admins, ask Managers
Guru's search engine is powerful enough as it indexes the wiki based content that before you click on the Send button it will provide you suggestions based on existing articles.
If the answers don't quite cut it, thats fine ping an Ask and theexpert can either point to the correct document, and the AI engine will do its thing next time or create an article based on the ask.
When you're creating an Article within Guru using any of the input options its possible that someone may have written a similar article previously just with a slightly different slant. thats normal..
Guru will spot that in many cases and let you know a similar article already exists..
This seriously helps to ensure that you are looking at the most up to date accurate data available to you, which in turn breeds confidence.
There are also some great documents on the site even if you don't want to use Guru
For any growing database even if you start of as I am as just a place to put the notes and guides I've used to get things working as this grows knowing how to manage it is important.
Sites like Guru really thrive when they build a community around them, thats the value add and personally something I think they have done well. Look at Digital Ocean, even if you don't use thier hosting services the amount of howto's they have publically available mean you know of thier hosting service.
Some examples of the recent posts i've been reading up on are:
Who can see the documents?
So having input a bunch of KB articles who gets to see them?
Well by default the people logged into Guru, your team, however on some occasions it may be that you want the KB entry to be viewable over the internet.
Doing this is simple and managed within the editing page.
An example of the URL output is here
I've been using Guru for over 4 years now and in the most part its just me in my team, as I don't run a business. I use it as a place to store howtos and guides, tweaks, bits of information I find handy. I find it super quick to get data into the service and the seach has been good enough that unlike confluence I'm able to find the things i wrote.
Is it perfect, obviously not however what i personally feel is that there is the right level of innovation, availability and scalability that make this a solid product.