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ITIL Knowledge Management and Its Role in ITSM

If you’re part of an IT organization looking to improve service delivery and up your IT Service Management (ITSM) maturity, there’s a good chance you’re looking to implement some ITIL best practices.

ITIL stands for Information Technology Infrastructure Library, and describes the processes, procedures, tasks and checklists that can be applied by an organization as part of an overall IT strategy; to improve customer delivery; or to maintain a certain level of competency organization-wide. By using ITIL, IT services within organizations can keep pace with the overall needs and goals of the business or institution; all while delivering exceptional service to customers, employees and other end-users.

Knowledge management is a component of ITIL – and one many businesses and organizations are starting to implement by way of self-service utilizing knowledge bases and portals. Formally, Gartner defines knowledge management as a business process that formalizes the management and use of an enterprise’s intellectual assets. It promotes a collaborative and integrative approach to the creation, capture, organization, access and use of information assets, including the tacit, uncaptured knowledge of people.

The goal of knowledge management is to ensure that stakeholders get the right information and in the proper format – at the right level and at the right time… all according to their access level and other relevant policies in place. In plain language, this means that the knowledge is accessible and accurate to those who need it when they need it. And the knowledge base on your service portal is a great place for this information to live.

Why are Knowledge Bases Important?

Knowledge bases can be an incredibly valuable resource, which is why knowledge management is so vital. The benefits include:

  1. Help to continually lower inbound call volume: When users can go to the knowledge base to help them figure out how to solve a problem, that means they don’t have to call the help desk or put in a ticket. This translates to time saved for IT professionals who can now spend their hours doing more complex tasks.
  2. Increase customer satisfaction: Being able to utilize self-service means customers don’t need to wait around for the attention of someone who can address and solve their problem, and no wait almost always means happier customers!
  3. Provide customers with the answers they need when they need them: Immediacy holds immense value. Being able to receive a solution just moments after a problem arises is essential for customers who work in fast-paced environments.
  4. Crowdsourcing knowledge helps maintain accurate content: Although some people might think they’re a know-it-all, no one person can be an expert on everything within an organization. Cumulating the knowledge of various people helps increase the accuracy of the content in these articles.

The 3 Types of Knowledge

To best understand how to manage the knowledge within your organization, it’s important to know the difference between the three types of knowledge:

  • Explicit Knowledge: This is knowledge that is codified or documented and easily accessible. Because it’s well documented it’s usually easier to store and retrieve in a knowledge base. The challenge is making sure it stays up to date.
  • Implicit Knowledge: This is embedded in processes, routines or organizational culture. Often this type of knowledge can exist in a manual or guidelines, but the knowledge itself isn’t explicit – it often lives in the way things are run.
  • Tacit Knowledge: This is knowledge that comes from personal experience, context or practices. It’s often hard to communicate with others and because it’s just “known” it can be hard to document.

Using Knowledge-Centered Service for Knowledge Management

Knowledge-Centered Service® (KCS) is a methodology that provides businesses with a strategy to best solve problems through an abundance of available knowledge. The clear structure and framework of KCS allows for feedback and helps organizations to publish information more accurately.

KCS is often used as part of an IT Service Management (ITSM) strategy to push people to self-service their IT issues using a knowledge base as part of a service portal.  

There are four KCS principles, the first being abundance. When an issue arises, it is either a known issue or a new issue. When someone presents a known issue, they are connected to the content that will help walk them through a solution. When someone presents a new issue, they are connected to a person who will help them solve the problem. This is why an abundance of knowledge is important- it leads to fewer issues that need to be handled by a person.  

The second principle of KCS is being demand-driven. When content is created for people to use in order to solve a problem, there should be a reason. Creating content for the sake of creating content is a waste of time because there is a chance that the knowledge article someone writes will never be referenced. Don’t write about what you think people want to know, write about what they actually want to know. This ties into another principle, which is creating value. Articles that are used continuously obviously hold more value than an article that is never looked at. Being intentional about the content you create is how you ensure that value is a focus. 

The last principle is trust. With people relying on written information to solve their problems rather than a person, it is incredibly important that they trust what they are reading. If they don’t, they are going to disregard a knowledge base article and go straight to a person to get help. This would completely defeat the purpose of a knowledge base, so it is very important that an organization is responsible for the knowledge that it has in order to gain trust.

When done right, your portal with a knowledge base can:

  • Help to continually lower inbound call volume.
  • Increases customer satisfaction.
  • Provides customers with the answers they need immediately.

Learn more about knowledge bases and TeamDynamix here.

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