Knowledge that doesn’t serve is knowledge wasted. And for knowledge gained from experience and research to be useful, IT enterprises need to organize, manage, and offer it in the best way possible. Fortunately, the best way isn’t a Herculean task when you employ simple tricks to build a profound knowledge base (KB). A sound knowledge base eliminates the need to rediscover or reformulate knowledge and improves the support process. With that in mind, consider these best practices to help build a successful knowledge base.
- Collect Information to Build Your KB
- Categorize to Identify, Retrieve and Use Knowledge
- Implement a Knowledge Approval Process
- Choose Your Audience for Each Solution
- Prompt Endusers Effectively with Relevant Knowledge Items
- Widen the KB’S Horizon
- Establish a Knowledge Management Team
- Evaluate Your KB’s Performance
The most important part of knowledge management is building knowledge itself. The first step is to identify prospective areas from which knowledge can be derived and extract information. Resolutions on common issues can be used as templates if they are added to the KB as knowledge items. Converting tacit knowledge to explicit knowledge is essential for a successful knowledge management system, but the conversion requires collaborative efforts with careful investigation and input from experienced technicians. Also, to achieve a comprehensive KB, encourage your IT technicians to move resolutions directly to the KB. A good IT help desk application will allow the creation of knowledge articles right from ticket resolution. This significantly reduces the percentage of repeat incidents and keeps the KB up to date.
Organizing and categorizing existing data can be challenging, especially when handling large KBs with wide scopes. However, it is important to group knowledge items and place them under relevant topics so that information is not lost in a pool of data. There are different ways in which you can organize knowledge, depending on what suits your organization best. Grouping can be based on document type, such as guidelines or bug fixes, or on the subject matter, such as hardware issues or software updates. Creating logical hierarchies is a method that will ease user navigation. The hierarchy should begin with broad topics and move on to categories and subcategories.
Creating a well-structured piece of information that is relevant to the user is crucial. The quality of the content should be peer reviewed by subject matter experts for accuracy and relevance. Ultimately, information cannot be published as knowledge without a proper knowledge approval process. The content that is generated must go through peer review and be improved.
Along those lines, you can configure an automated approval workflow that prevents a solution from being published without peer approval. Create a unique knowledge manager role with permissions to approve solutions. Configuring an automatic trigger for notifications to approvers on submission of a solution will make the approval process easier. Approval processes eliminate ambiguity, making knowledge items more accurate and minimizing any reopening of closed tickets. For instance, there may be multiple solutions to troubleshoot a printer issue (network issue, hardware issue, etc.). However, the approval committee should be able to decide on the appropriate solution.
Not every piece of information in the KB is relevant to all users. By choosing the right audience for a knowledge item, you can eliminate clutter in the endusers’ self-service portal. For technicians, create specific roles and groups based on their field of expertise and share only relevant topics. For example, finance documents are always confidential and therefore should be accessible only to related users. Along the same lines, documents on registry settings or swapping hardware parts are only relevant to IT experts in the field and can be restricted from endusers. However, make sure your technicians have full access to the KB, especially when the services are integrated in the help desk application.
No matter how elaborate a KB is, it cannot be effective if it is out of reach. Making the KB easily accessible to endusers in the self-service portal will help them arrive at solutions without assistance from a technician, lowering the number of incidents. This can be done in the following ways.
- When the enduser logs in to the application, the recently viewed or used solutions are listed.
- When an enduser tries to log a ticket, relevant knowledge articles are suggested based on keywords.
- In the self-service portal, endusers have easy access to the KB articles that have been made visible to them.
- Relevant KB articles are automatically e-mailed to the enduser in response notifications (as auto suggestions) when the ticket is logged.
Likewise, the sooner an IT technician can get to a resolution in the KB, the easier it is to reduce the mean time to resolve incidents and improve first call resolution rates. This can be achieved by adding keywords and tags to solutions to make items easily searchable.
A well-built KB should not be limited to storing resolutions for incidents. Use the KB as a repository of important checklists that keep a particular service up and running. Commonly used information such as checklists on regular server housekeeping tasks or changes that require restarting the server will keep technicians from missing crucial steps in change implementation. The KB should also be used to save important workflows in IT services, training material for technicians, user guides, and even FAQs. This, in turn, helps reduce incident response time and will help technicians keep up with pre-defined SLAs.
When it comes to creating a knowledge management (KM) system as a key resource in your organization, a knowledge management team certainly has its advantages. One of the most significant advantages is the added ownership and accountability in the KM process. You can create a user group of technicians who are well trained in the proposed KM model for your organization. This team should be assigned to supervise the approval process. They should also be able to streamline KM workflows, identify possible areas of extension, and be responsible for collecting information from resources. The whole KM process is cyclical, and the KM team should oversee it. This will help avoid chaotic roles and prevent any missed information.
Constantly monitoring the efficiency of your KM system with relevant metrics will help you evaluate its performance. The following are the metrics and methodologies generally used in KM to identify its strengths and weaknesses:
- Customer surveys on the quality and accessibility of the KB content
- Identifying zero click-throughs where KM content exists
- Evaluation of knowledge gaps (where KM content does not exist)
- Reports from your help desk application on ticket response and resolution times, as well as reopen rates, show you the statistics required to improve your knowledge management system.
After you’ve built your knowledge base and have a good knowledge management system running, sit back and reap the benefits. Whether it’s just a few tweaks to an existing knowledge base or a brand new one, it shouldn’t be long before customers and employees say, “It’s on fleek!”
This article was originally posted “Simple Secrets of Successful Knowledge Management” from Cloud Strategy Magazine.