Getting your Knowledge Management System up to scratch might feel daunting, but once you have the process underway, your time investment will be repaid tenfold. Read my tips for Knowledge Management success to get back on track today.

Knowledge Management should improve your IT Support Team’s ability to solve faults, satisfy requests and deliver the consistent levels of service expected. A good Knowledge Management System (KMS) avoids the loss of critical knowledge when employees leave and enables efficient knowledge-sharing across teams.

It should also streamline processes by delivering relevant information ‘on demand’ to your IT Support staff as they create tickets or respond to requests.

The drive to engage our users through different channels continues and whilst we have seen an increase in the usage of ‘Self Service’ tools, this has not been to the extent any of us would have hoped to have seen. This is likely to be as most only provide basic functionality – log a ticket, check the status – rather than actually deliver a Service. The deployment of technology such as online Chat and most specifically Virtual Agent technology, by IT departments, has been slow to date, but certainly one of the enablers for successful adoption of these is an effective knowledge base which then provides the decision-making process to deliver the automation of key end user requests. So more than ever the need for an effective KMS is imperative in the delivery of Service.

So why is it that so many organisations struggle to implement and maintain a successful system for sharing and maintaining IT knowledge? Over the years, I’ve witnessed just about every reason for Knowledge Management success and failure and want to share the most common problems and how to fix them with you.

“If you don’t already have a Knowledge Manager in your team, you need to decide who will take overall responsibility.”

Pete Canavan, Support Services Director at Acora

Why do Knowledge Management Systems Fail?

Do you have an IT Knowledge Management System that is being largely ignored? Does it take too long to find the right piece of information? Do you end up with irrelevant, or even zero results when your analysts or users are hunting for help? One of the most common problems in Knowledge Management Systems is the same as many other business databases. There’s simply too much legacy information, duplication and (worst case scenario) even outright contradiction.

When it comes to creating a KMS, you’ll only get out what you put in… and what you put in, will at some point need to be removed or updated. Duplicate and legacy articles can send users down a rabbit hole of dissatisfaction and wasted time, the very opposite of what your KMS was set up to achieve. Lack of direction and ownership over article creation, maintenance and reporting can effectively leave your KMS redundant.

How To Achieve KMS Excellence

Who’s Responsible?

If you don’t already have a Knowledge Manager in your team, you need to decide who will take overall responsibility. This could be a Team Leader or another knowledgeable team member that will oversee the process.

What does a Knowledge Manager do?

This individual will be the Knowledge champion, espousing its benefits while ensuring it is, in fact, beneficial. This designated resource will make sure that articles are being created, that they are vetted before publication and that targets are met. They’ll also manage ongoing quality management, reporting and optimisation. It’s not this individual’s sole responsibility to create the content but it is their responsibility to ensure it’s happening.

Who Creates the Content?

In a word, everyone. Your analysts should be writing the bulk of the content while more senior team members can help by checking and verifying content accuracy. The most successful systems are backed-up with individual and team targets to produce X number of articles. The Knowledge Manager should be helping to set the priorities by looking at ticket trends so that the most frequently sought information is available as soon as possible. For example, if you’re rolling out any new IT implementations, this will be a priority. If you have a high frequency of a certain type of request, you can create end-user Knowledge that leads them on a path to self-service, thus freeing up analysts for incidents or complex requests

How to Maintain a Successful KMS

Having clearly defined roles for creation and management is a great starting point. To keep the database tidy and useful, it needs regular audits and maintenance. Each time an article is uploaded, ensure that a review date is set. This should be within one year but sooner if possible to keep up with the fast-paced world of IT.

Setting a review date that alerts the Knowledge Manager ahead of time gives them the opportunity to task the review appropriately. The article can be updated if required, remain the same if not or if it has become completely obsolete, it should be removed entirely.

Tracking and measuring the success of each article to identify usefulness and future content priorities also have to fall under the remit of the KMS Manager. Even simple measurements such as hit rates can be informative but where possible, link articles to tickets for deeper insights.

An effective KMS is not a set-and-forget tool but an evolving shared brain for your IT team and users. It takes ongoing time and effort to keep it useful. But the benefits of a well-maintained system make it all worthwhile as it begins to save time and improve your team’s response times.

“An effective KMS is not a set-and-forget tool but an evolving shared brain for your IT team and users.”

Pete Canavan, Support Services Director at Acora

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