In this article we would like to cover key success and risk factors that should be considered while preparing to implementation of Knowledge Management (KM) in IT Operations. At EvergoPartners we think that there are three areas that should be thoroughly analyzed and planned before any organizational change to start, namely:
- Tools (Technology)
Although Knowledge Management might look at a first glance as pretty easy to implement it very often fails to deliver the benefits it promises. Here are some our advices and thoughts based on projects we were involved in. In this article you can find some references to Knowledge Centered Support methodology that was developed by Consortium for Service Innovation and is widely used in It operations however we think that the advices are valid for any Knowledge Management methodology.
Any project can fail due to people’s resistance or reluctance to change. This statement is also true for Knowledge Management implementation in IT Operations. You can definitely expect such behaviors. Let’s try to identify some key groups and roles and investigate what might be the challenges.
- Your company higher management – It’s relatively easy to get buy in from the group as KM usually offers a sound business case. The mistake you could possibly make is to present the project as relatively easy one. No it’s not and you should do your best to get proper attention and support from your management.
- Suppliers Management – If you outsource your operations to other companies, especially if you outsource Service Desk function, supplier may not be very much interested in KM implementation unless your cooperation is more a long term partnerships rather than a short term deal. The reason for that is that in short run it means additional effort for supplier, and in long run if the project is successful, lower incidents volume that usually means less money. It makes the talks a bit difficult but it’s really important that they understand what you want to achieve, support you and cascade it down within their organization. KM KPI’s on contractual level would help here definitely as well.
- Service Desk agents – You can expect that they will be at least reluctant as they could perceive the KM as additional activities they have to perform while resolving incidents or fulfilling requests. It’s important to pass the massage that thanks to KM they will be able to resolve incidents quicker, reuse the knowledge instead of reinventing the wheel and ultimately get rid of the same boring cases if knowledge articles can be consumed by end-users on self-service portal what will make their job more interesting. We also have to remember that KPI of Service Desk are usually very much focused on time hence it’s important to introduce some measure related to KM.
- Coaches – The role of coaches or trainers is extremely important especially when it comes to knowledge quality. They onboard new employees, train them, help to maintain and control articles quality. You simply can’t think of high quality if you have not the roles assigned and assigned to right people.
- Knowledge Domain Experts – Usually located in the second or third level support. They should be naturally interested in KM as it should move significant part of incidents up to Service Desk or to customers allowing them to focus more on some more sophisticated things. Yet you still have to pass the massage to them and ensure they bought it.
- Customers – One of goals of KM is to offer knowledge articles to end users so that they could resolve the issues they face quickly without assistance of Service Desk. It’s a must to invest in communication to end users. Probably they use phone and e-mail channels the most and one time effort is not enough to redirect them to self-service portal where they could find knowledge articles. Standalone communication regarding KM on Self – Service portal is ok but according to us it should be a part of bigger communications plan promoting different Self – Service portal functionalities.
In this context we consider the process as a set of documents that constitute foundation for Knowledge Management. Below you can find a list of documents that we think is essential for successful Knowledge Management process implementation.
- Process Flow Diagram
- Diagram presenting interfaces with other processes
- Step by Step ITSM tool work instruction
- Content Standard describing how articles should be written
- Process roles description
- Rights and permissions matrix – defining what actions (create, publish, retire etc.) can be executed be different process roles
- Visibility matrix defining which articles can be viewed by certain user groups
- Training materials for different roles e.g. agents, coaches etc.
- Reports and KPI’s
planning the Knowledge Management implementation project?
There are many solution on the market that offer Knowledge Management functionality. Before you start implementation you need to assess your ITSM toolset against your requirements. The issue might be that you may not be totally aware of all the requirements if do it for the first time. It’s not a problem – we are here to help you . Below you can find some key functionalities of your toolset you definitely need to have on your checklist.
- Integration with Incident Management – Knowledge Management is very much interconnected with Incident Management process. It should be possible to find relevant article directly from incident ticket, create new article from incident ticket with relevant information from incident copied to article and relate the articles to incident.
- Workflow – The KM workflow should allow to manage articles throughout its entire lifecycle from creation to retirement.
- Visibility and permissions – It should possible to set different rights for people depending to which user group (e.g. end-user, service desk agent) they belong and what roles (e.g. publisher, contributor) they have. Well defined matrix at the very beginning can help to avoid a lot of hassle during the project.
- Content Standard – Many KM methodologies including KCS suggests standardized template of articles. It facilitates the readability. Make sure that you can adjust your standard template to your needs for example add new field or rename it.
- Search engine – It’s of crucial importance. Investigate and understand how your search engine works already at the planning phase of your implementation project. Depending on the search logic you may have to adjust your content standard or the other way around in order to improve searchability. Make sure that search engines in your ITSM and on your Self – Service portal work the same way as it’s not always the case.
- Editability – It may sound strange nowadays but it’s really important that articles are easily editable as it can save a lot of time while creating and improving the articles. Moreover it will contribute to the quality of articles. They need to be very well readable with well formatted pictures, tables and other objects to make them more attractive and easy to understand by end user.
- Self – Service portal – Ability to search and read knowledge article on the Self-Service portal is a must. It’s not that easy to direct people and make them using knowledge articles on Self – Service portal. First they need to find it on the portal so you need to position it and promote it well. Then it’s important to make sure that they can find the knowledge articles they are looking for quickly – search engine again. You have to ensure that the format of articles is attractive or at least easy to read. Finally it’s important to provide functionalities that help to capture customer feedback like “Did the article help you to resolve the issue? “ and free text field to provide feedback.
- Analytics – Knowledge Management is very much metrics driven process. If you do not have the KM reports and dashboards already available in the ITSM tool you need assess carefully if the tool is able to produce all the reporting objects that are required to produce needed reports. Also make sure that you can produce reports based on the usage of the Self – Service portal by the customer. These reports are usually hardly available as standard ones.
As you can see there is quite a long list of things you need to consider while planning the Knowledge Management implementation project. However we believe it’s worth investing time to prepare well rather than face the issued during the project. If want to discuss it more details do not hesitate to contact us.