I am far from an expert on the subject of Knowledge Management, however I regularly see what is possible based on information we have available as well as what cannot be accomplished when we reach a knowledge roadblock. Knowledge is power, as the saying goes, but how is that power wielded? More often than not we find ourselves in a knowledge deficit.
This topic came about, as most do, on a morning coffee discussion among some colleagues over the subject of not having enough information to improve the customer experience from a self service perspective.
- Where is this information which we seek?
- Does it not exist at all?
- Is it in a repository somewhere in a Network folder, Wiki or SharePoint site?
- Is it stored locally in someone’s mind and never shared?
Which leads me to the question “How many organizations have a way of curating the information that they currently have?”
You have experienced it before, there is always someone who believes that if they horde all the knowledge they are invaluable and effectively irreplaceable. Unfortunately I have seen this cycle repeat itself too many times. What typically happens is that after a while that person either leaves, either on their own or by other means and we are left without any knowledge transition only to start the cycle over again. Unfortunately in some cases we say “That will never happen again” and we end up right back in the same place because we have no governance or model to ensure that we don’t.
So, what do we do?
First we really need to identify where we already are on a knowledge maturity scale. This has to be looked at honestly with objective eyes. There is no ‘bad’, identifying that we are at the beginning just sets us up for a realistic outcome based on current state . What do we have now and where is it? it might be in many places, and it might be out of date but know what you’re dealing with
Knowing that, we should be able to formulate some type of strategy to get a process and policy in place where one may not currently exist. since we are talking about policy and process we should also have buy-in from the leadership team to ensure that this is adopted by the team and that resources that are required are allocated accordingly. Really without that as a foundation we will be doomed to repeat the same failures.
Next we need to identify what is in scope for our knowledge policy and what is not. remember in the beginning to keep it simple and small to get the ball rolling. once we know ‘what’ is in scope we can go back and look at the documentation we have and see what is valid, current and usable. As i mentioned above this shouldn’t be a ‘side of the desk’ activity. to keep this moving along there should be some roles and activities assigned to ensure that we can continue to progress forward to ensure information stays current and accurate
While there are many benefits, having this accurate information at the fingertips of the Service Desk at the very least allows improving first call resolution. Faster turnarounds on escalations for support teams where they may be known issues or even in some cases from information that can be shared with customers directly from a knowledge portal of some type. This type of self service will help to drive down areas of repeat escalation to the service desk, so having someone from that team involved is a good place to start.
In the beginning there will be lots to do, I won’t lie. It is likely that without any previous policy that you will have many knowledge records which are duplicate (or more) in nature, so wading through the mire may take some time – so keep it simple and have a defined scope. Apply this and educate all facets of your knowledge management policy to your IT teams, PMO and business units where applicable.