The question you must ask yourself as a service provider is, “Are you positioned to satisfy your business needs in the same manner”
One of the fundamental challenges with knowledge management isn’t capturing the information; it is usually the ability to manage it. So where do we start?
The first question we need to answer, and be as truthful as we can, is why we need to do this in the first place. What are we expecting to achieve? Every company may have its own reasons but here are just a few thoughts:
- Improves customer satisfaction through self service
- Promotes collaboration within the organization
- People are used to doing this away from work so why not at work?
Once we understand why, we really need to decide the ‘where.’ This is where it gets a bit trickier, since in many organizations the data is not located in one place. It is spread across various group shares, wikis, SharePoint sites, and the list goes on. One of the first steps is to decide on a home for that data, or at least a single place to search for the data. This will help us in part to manage access to the knowledge. After all, some of the information may require certain permissions or may not be fit for all parties.
Now that we understand why and have decided where, we need to determine ‘what’ will be in scope for the knowledge repository. Having a scope for the information is crucial to be able to actually get knowledge management to work in the first place. Without the scope this will get out of control very easily, so keep the scope simple to start with. You may decide that self-service “how to” articles or videos addressing the top 10 calls into the service desk will be the first plan of attack. In doing this you aim to reduce the number of calls into the service desk by allowing people to help themselves out.
Next, we need to identify the ‘who’:
- Who will be the target audience, and who will be able to access the data? Remember that we need to communicate to this community of people that we have this information available so that they will use it in the first place. We also need to be able to measure the usefulness so that we can adjust the information accordingly.
- Who will be able to create and publish knowledge records? Will these be the result of incidents, problems, and escalations? Or will you be able to have a more proactive approach? Understand and agree upon the RACI of knowledge management so it is clearly defined and governed.
- Who will manage the content? Sometimes we may allow multiple parties to upload information, but we need to ensure that someone is reviewing, prioritizing, and in some cases editing the information shared with the community at large.
Tracking the usage of the knowledge base is crucial to promoting the success of it. The time that you save can be applied to curating more knowledge records, which could save more time – like a domino effect. But if you are not able to quantify the value in knowledge management it will be difficult to keep it alive. The ability to measure is table stakes in implementing knowledge management.
I can hear it from a service desk person already, “does this mean I won’t be as needed as I was in the past, what about my role in this?”
My reply to the service desk person would be this, “how is time is best used, answering the same questions over and over again or applying that time to more complex issues?”
Since they will have time savings from answering repetitive questions, the service desk will be able to proactively create more knowledge records and focus their energy on assisting with more complex issues as they would have more one-on-one time available.
Remember that this is not a matter of uploading some documents at regular intervals; this information needs to be nurtured from cradle to grave in its own lifecycle so governance of this important. Knowledge management is not a side of the desk activity. There needs to be someone ensuring that articles are curated in a consistent way. That they are also validated for technical correctness. The work should also have some follow up with the consumer base to ensure that the articles are being used and hit the mark as well as reporting on the overall usage of the knowledge records
Establishing an effective knowledge management platform in simple terms allows your team to leverage a few articles and then build on that to something potentially larger as it fits your organizational needs.