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Key Steps for a Successful Knowledge Management Information cannot be published as knowledge without a proper knowledge approval process

By LeAnn Smiles

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A comprehensive knowledge base eliminates the need to rediscover or reformulate knowledge.

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 utilize it in the best ways 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, here are some best practices that help build a successful knowledge base.

Build Your KB by Gathering Information

The most important part of knowledge management is knowledge building. The first step is to identify prospective sources to derive and extract knowledge. 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. However, that 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, significantly reducing repeat incidents, keeping the KB up to date.

Use Knowledge to Categorize, Identify & Retrieve

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 types, 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.

Implementing Knowledge Approval Processes

Creating a well-structured and relevant information base 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. All generated content must go through peer review and should be continuously improved.

Along those lines, you can configure an automated approval workflow, which 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.

Pick Your Audience

Not all bits 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 end users' self-service portal. For technicians, create specific roles and groups based on the field of expertise and share only relevant topics. For example, finance documents are always confidential and therefore should be accessible only to related users.

Effectively Prompt End-users

No matter how elaborate a KB is, it cannot be effective if it is out of reach. Making the KB easily accessible to end-users 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 end-user logs into the application, the recently viewed or used solutions are listed.
  • When an end-user tries to log a ticket, relevant knowledge articles are suggested based on keywords.
  • In the self-service portal, end users have easy access to all KB articles that have been made visible to them.
  • Relevant KB articles are automatically e-mailed to the end-user in response notifications (as auto suggestions) when the ticket is logged.

Widen the KB'S Horizon

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 service legal agreements.

Create a Knowledge Management Team

Creating a knowledge management (KM) system in your organization certainly has its advantages. One of the most significant of these 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. This will help avoid chaotic roles and prevent missing information.

Evaluate Your KB's Performance

Constantly monitoring the efficiency of your KM system with relevant metrics will help you evaluate its performance.

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 respond with words of praise.

LeAnn Smiles

Product Analyst at ManageEngine

LeAnn Smiles is a product analyst at ManageEngine, a division of Zoho Corporation.
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