Web Support Blog

November 9, 2006

Executing Knowledge Management

Filed under: Content Management, Knowledge Management — Chris @ 8:33 am

In my last post I ranted about my frustration within my organization in regard to knowledge management. I discussed some problems and gave a list of things required to make knowledge management successful. Since that time, I found a very good article from David Kay, Breakthrough Knowledge Management, that summarizes the Knowledge Centered Support (KCS) model.

Mr. Kay makes several great point when he discusses “Making the Transition” that have not occurred in my organization. The bolded items are where we need to go back and put more emphasis.

KCS requires a significant rethinking of knowledge, support processes, support staffers’ job descriptions, and rewards and recognition. It requires senior executive and management buy-in, a carefully executed communications plan, and an enabling technology platform. It generally requires help from experts outside the company. It’s not an initiative that should be taken lightly.

You can learn all about KCS from the Consortium for Service Innovation. Begin by reading their whitepaper, The KCS Operational Model.

This is a good reminder, we can all work hard to get our tools and systems to the next level, but if you do not have your content development model working, your web support site will still fail your customers.

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November 7, 2006

What is happening in knowledge management in my organization?

Filed under: Content Management, Knowledge Management — Chris @ 10:40 pm

I have not been posting too much lately, actually not enough since I started this blog. Besides working on my other blog, I have been preoccupied at work, asking, “what is happening in knowledge management in my organization?” Because my current role is just now expanding into more main stream knowledge management, after being away from it for 18 months (I switched companies and started a team specifically to develop how-to and tutorial movie animations), I have been trying to figure out what is going wrong in our organization.

The truth is, our organization is struggling with the basic concept of web support and knowledge management — an organization that has been “doing it” for over five years. I finally believe that I have discovered why we are struggling: the employees, those who we are expecting to create the majority of the content, they do not understand why they need to create the content and they do not see how it benefits them.

It is a failure in our management practices in helping our subject matter experts to see the value of knowledge sharing; a failure in setting the right measures and expectations for knowledge management; a failure in not making sure the employees have the appropriate training; and most of all, a failure in making it a part of the employees job. Quite frankly, even though we have support at the Executive level, we do not have it at the front-line management level. I heard one person say today that it is hard for his peers to embrace knowledge management when they already have so much to do in their “day job.”

Day job? Why is knowledge management not part of their day job? Knowledge management creates capacity: 1) more customers can find their own answer; and 2) agents can find answers to help customers faster. This should be a part of every agents day job – period.
There is a lesson here for all of us. For knowledge management to work, and therefore the content behind web support, you need the following:

  1. Support through the entire management chain: it must be valued!
  2. Accountability: see#1 — if it is valued, then employees should be held accountable
  3. Training for the knowledge creators
    • How to use the tools
    • How to write
    • How the work contributes to the companies success
  4. Data
    • Where to invest (i.e. content gaps, search tuning)
    • What is working (i.e. success rate, satisfaction rate)
    • What is not working (i.e. unused content, broken links)
  5. Clear escalation path, with follow-through, for system issues

So if your organization is struggling with knowledge management, go talk to a few of the subject matter experts — your support agents. Go find out if knowledge management is part of their day job or not.

September 22, 2006

Do You Have a Collaborative Business Environment?

Filed under: Knowledge Management — Chris @ 7:57 pm

I finally got around to reading the September 2006 issue of KM World. Jonathan B. Spira wrote an article, Step up to the knowledge economy, where he made a very valuable point. He lists three tenets that are required to make collaborative business environment (CBE). These three items range very true to my own (support) environment.

  1. the one environment rule (OER), which describes the benefits of conflating all applications into a single interface;
  2. friction-free knowledge sharing, which eliminates unnecessary steps in order to increase knowledge worker productivity; and
  3. embedded community, which deeply integrates many of the tools within the work environment.

In terms of knoweldge development, we currently are not in one environment — for that matter, we had three separate processes depending on the medium until just recently. Within a year, we should be on one environment. The greatest benefit is that we will reduce the learning curve for our knowledge contributors. For knowldge retrieval, it has just been this month where we have one search interface across all of our knowledge.

With the improvements to the environment, we are also gaining process benefits, eliminating unnecessary steps. By the end of the year, the publishing aspects that are still manual will have one less person to filter through. And again, once we get to one system, we will see additional improvements. With that being said, as we work to make sure that we are investing our precious resources on creating the right content, I do fear that we introduce new, unnecessary process steps. From prior experience, any process needs to be watched closely — too little, and mistakes happen; too much, and nothing happens.

The third tenet seems rather obvious, but it does not play out that way. Knowledge tools need to be in the workflow. If you have a call center, the knowledge tools need to be integrated with the transaction system. And if you are expecting those agents to add knowledge, the creation aspect needs to be integrated into the workflow too. The same can be said for your business intelligence tools. If the tools are not consolidated, easy to access, and within a familiar environment, they unfortunately will not be used.

I beleive the underlying message here is, if you want great knowledge collaboration to occur in your environment, you need to put the pieces in place to make it easy.

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