If you think that knowledge management isn’t that important across your IT service management (ITSM) capabilities, and that information should only be shared within teams, then you should think again. Instead, there’s a far wider opportunity for knowledge management that doesn’t sit within teams or process-based siloes such as the service desk or incident management.

Let’s start with a few tricky questions

Have you ever thought about why end users or customers often ask the same things again and again? No matter how many times you seem to be giving the same answer. Or do they complain that they couldn’t reach you or your organization’s support team when they needed help? That your phone lines have been too busy.

Or, are service desk agents consistently under pressure? Complaining about missed service level targets, growing backlogs, and the fact that there are just too many tickets in their queues. That they don’t have enough time to help end users?

You would not be alone if your help desk or service desk encounters some or all of these issues. And as to how get out of the situation, especially when hiring more people is not an option, a good solution is the introduction (or improvement) of knowledge management and increased knowledge sharing.

Putting knowledge management into context

Knowledge management doesn’t replace incident management or request fulfilment activities, but instead works with it. With knowledge management, support functions (and the individuals within them) can become so much more effective. Plus, knowledge management can be a key element of self-service capabilities – allowing end users to help themselves rather than contacting the service desk. It’s a win-win for both parties.

But as I’ve already mentioned, knowledge sharing shouldn’t stop at functional or process boundaries. It’s great that better knowledge management can improve your first contact resolution (FCR) rate, say, or provide answers to end users before they log their issues, but knowledge becomes more valuable the more it’s used and by increasing the number of people that can use it.

But knowledge management isn’t easy

It’s a great idea to allow as many people as possible to benefit from the available knowledge but many organizations struggle to realize the maximum value from their investment in a knowledge management system or database.

So what can be done to improve the chances of knowledge management success?

  1. Be realistic about building up your knowledge sharing capabilities

If you have several issues (or opportunities) to tackle at the same time, don’t try to resolve them all – through the creation of new knowledge – at once. Prioritize the challenges and opportunities, then focus on the most critical one(s). The realism also applies to driving the right behaviors in people, and organizational change management techniques will be need to create a true knowledge sharing culture.

  1. Be innovative in how knowledge is shared

There will be situations where IT and end users are unable to find, access, and use the shared knowledge. In such scenarios, you will need to find different ways to share the required knowledge, or to encourage people to share. Sometimes old-fashioned ways can be good. For instance, putting people in touch with the right people (who can help) is going to be a better solution than pointing them at a document they just can’t use and benefit from in their current situation. Or newer techniques such as gamification.

  1. Focus on the quality over quantity

“More is better” sadly doesn’t work with knowledge management. In fact, having too many articles, or too-wordy articles, can actually hide the valuable knowledge. So focus on the quality of knowledge articles. They need to be timely, accurate, and end users need to be able to find and then understand them (so don’t make them too technical). They also need to be maintained – while an organization might have a lot of knowledge articles, have they ever been updated after the initial creation?

Want to know more?

I’ve a lot more to say about succeeding with knowledge management in a presentation I’m delivering at this year’s itSMF Estonia conference titled “Knowledge Sharing – Doesn’t make you less important.”

I’ll be sharing real-life examples and diving deeper into areas such as:

  • How to do knowledge sharing in different ways
  • How to measure the benefits of knowledge management
  • Expectation balancing in knowledge sharing.

If you’re lucky enough to be coming to the Estonia itSMF conference on Thursday 8th December, then you will get an opportunity to hear my presentation. If you haven’t yet booked your place, there’s still time. It’s one of the best value conferences in Europe, and I do hope to see you there.

If you can’t make it, please follow the Twitter stream #itSMFEst which is an alternative way of getting my, and other presenter’s, content.