The art, or science, of the organizational capability known as “knowledge management” is already over two decades old. Its benefits are easy to quantify and articulate, yet many organizations still struggle to get knowledge management right. This is true across all corporate business functions but it’s especially relevant for IT organizations, and their service desks, that are becoming increasingly reliant upon knowledge.
This is the first in a series of knowledge-related articles that together present a picture of the state of knowledge management in IT service management (ITSM) and, in particular, in the context of the IT service desk.
The power of knowledge sharing for ITSM and IT service desks
As already mentioned, knowledge management as a corporate capability is nothing new – having been initially fashionable at the end of the last century.
From an ITSM perspective, it was added as “a separate process that supports other ITSM processes” in ITIL v3 (published in June 2007). And prior to this, knowledge management was subsumed within the more-limited number of IT service delivery and support processes of ITIL v2.
In many ways, this separation of knowledge management from the day-to-day IT operations – even if just perceived as such – has been part of the issue for IT organizations struggling with knowledge-sharing success (and there’s more on this in later articles).
But putting the barriers to knowledge-sharing success to one side for now, there are so many ways in which IT service desks can, and will need to, benefit from knowledge management. Please read on for some examples…
18 benefits of knowledge exploitation
This subtitle is very deliberate – i.e. mentioning knowledge exploitation and not knowledge management – because the power of knowledge is aligned to its use, and exploitation, not to its management.
For example, a company could have the best knowledge identification, capture, organization, and management capabilities, but still struggle to exploit its collated knowledge – failing with its distribution. Why? Because the real value of knowledge is ultimately driven by its effective use and reuse.
Putting the semantics to one side for a moment, there are numerous benefits to be realized from knowledge sharing/management. These can be viewed through a number of different – yet overlapping – lenses, for instance:
A business outcomes lens:
1. Better outcomes through increased “collaboration,” especially when organizations grow in size and complexity
2. Lost productivity is minimized – from finding answers/solutions more quickly to the minimization of downtime (in an IT context)
3. Reduced operational costs – with quicker access to needed resources and decision making
4. Reduced duplication of effort and “wheel reinvention” thanks to knowledge reuse
5. Providing an infrastructure for innovation across team and functional boundaries.
An operational lens:
6. Greater consistency of operations and outcomes
7. Increased operational efficiency – from decisions through to actions
8. Increased operational effectiveness
9. Quicker problem solving and opportunity assessment
10. Maximum use of scarce people types and their knowledge
11. Providing a platform for improvement.
A people lens:
12. Empowering staff with collective knowledge – all staff know more than they personally know
13. Greater awareness of “the important things”
14. Reducing the risk and impact of employee (and their knowledge) loss
15. Quicker onboarding and training of new staff
16. Increased staff motivation and morale (because work is made easier).
A customer lens:
17. Better customer-level outcomes
18. A better customer experience (across speed, quality, and cost).
At this point, everything seems great – there’s this organizational capability called knowledge management that offers a multitude of benefits – “So, where can we buy it?”
Sadly, it’s not that simple and, in my next knowledge management article, I’ll explain why. If you can’t wait, then you can read more about the current state of knowledge sharing in a paper I wrote for Kaleo Software: “Prepare Your IT Service Desk for Its Knowledge-Powered Future Now.” This is available on the Kaleo website now.