The Critical Nature of Knowledge Management in IT Service Management

by | Nov 6, 2019 | Software Company


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As organizations prepare for emerging technologies, such as artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, robotic process automation (RPA), virtual agents, and chatbots, knowledge management has taken on more importance. In moving toward a future state, these organizations have come to realize that these technologies will require robust knowledge repositories from which answers and resolutions can be drawn.

For support organizations within education, the public sector, and healthcare, three focus verticals of a recent HDI report commissioned by Business Name, knowledge management is a “must-have” technology. Although including knowledge management as part of an overarching IT service management (ITSM) strategy as a means to future-proof the organization is a fine reason to adopt a process, it’s not the only reason. Another finding from HDI’s report, which identifies ways to advance toward more mature ITSM practices and processes, just over half of the industry as a whole has adopted knowledge management versus more than three-quarters of education, government, and healthcare organizations. There are some relatively obvious reasons for the higher levels of adoption in the public sector:

  • Government and healthcare have especially high compliance requirements, making consistency and accuracy of answers and resolutions imperative.
  • Education—specifically higher education—has unique challenges in that the service desk is often staffed by students, many of whom are part-time and will no longer be available upon completion of their studies. Knowledge sharing and transfer is critical.

How KCS® Meets Knowledge Needs

Knowledge-Centered Service (KCS) is a knowledge management methodology that integrates the production and maintenance of knowledge into the problem-solving interactions that occur while providing service. This methodology has been adopted in large percentages of organizations across the three focus verticals, again exceeding adoption rates in the industry overall.

KCS is a double-loop process consisting of a Solve Loop and an Evolve Loop. The Solve Loop lays out the elements of actively creating, using, and improving knowledge. The Evolve Loop focuses on the maintenance and improvement of the KCS process as a whole, including the organizational culture.

KCS has four major tenets:

  • Knowledge is created as the product of problem solving
  • Content evolves through reuse and improvement
  • Collective experience is stored in an accessible knowledge base
  • Learning, sharing, and collaboration are rewarded

Instead of placing the onus for knowledge creation on a dedicated team, everyone is involved, and everyone contributes. Rather than creating knowledge articles “just in case” and publishing them only when they are “perfect,” KCS encourages teams to capture the issue and resolution in the words of the customer, create articles “just in time,” and improve articles based on demand and reuse. Knowledge is disseminated rapidly at the point of demand, and the work is done as needed.

Based on criteria laid out in the KCS methodology, service and support workers engage with the Solve Loop in any or all of the following ways:

  • Use it – Consume existing knowledge and use it for problem solving
  • Flag it – Mark an article for improvement
  • Fix it – Improve the article based on need
  • Add it – If the requested knowledge doesn’t exist, capture it in the knowledge base

Through consistent application of these methods, reused knowledge is improved over time. No time is wasted in editing and improving knowledge that isn’t reused (that is, single-use resolutions). While the basic concepts of KCS are easy to articulate and grasp, their true value is derived only from the cultural evolution that must occur for this methodology to succeed. The KCS methodology isn’t easy to adopt correctly; it requires time, effort, and investment. It yields proven results and can be a valuable part of an organization’s ITSM processes as a complement to self-service. But the effort required is often overlooked or underestimated.

For more on this topic and a closer look at why the need exists for more mature ITSM practices, You can get a copy of HDI’s full report here.

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