How long has your IT service desk been struggling with its knowledge management (or knowledge sharing) capabilities? If it’s longer than you care to remember, then maybe it’s time to seek help? To find out what IT service desks that succeed with knowledge management do differently.
To help here are eight tips based on what these successful IT service desks have done to achieve their knowledge management success.
They make knowledge sharing important to everyone
Critically, they don’t position knowledge management as an “add-on” to the real IT support work. Instead, they integrate knowledge management capabilities with business-as-usual operations and workflows. They also make knowledge sharing part of corporate employee reward and recognition mechanisms.
They sell the benefits of knowledge sharing to employees
It’s the “What’s in it for me?” that employees seek when faced with something new, particularly change that affects them. Organizational change management tools and techniques are key here.
They understand that knowledge management is about people and ways of working
Importantly, they appreciate that knowledge management is not a technology thing. Although technology is required to support the people and their knowledge sharing.
They formalize their knowledge-sharing capabilities
This includes knowledge management policies and responsibilities, the mechanisms for the administration and management of knowledge articles, and the ability to review/rate the usefulness of knowledge articles. However, they’re also careful not to build in so much bureaucracy that it slows down, or potentially kills, their knowledge-sharing initiative.
They create time for knowledge sharing in day-to-day operations
They appreciate that employees need time for both knowledge access and use, especially initially, and for knowledge capture. Knowledge management will save time and costs in the long run – because people get to solutions more quickly (including via employee self-help) – but there needs to be an upfront investment (and a continued investment) in creating the knowledge articles that facilitate the use and reuse of knowledge.
They make it as easy as possible for people to capture and use knowledge
As people, if knowledge sharing isn’t easy, then we’re likely not to do it. Which is pretty reasonable if the benefits of knowledge sharing are deemed to be outweighed by the effort involved. For instance, service desk agents will likely “reinvent the wheel” to find a suitable resolution rather than sourcing a proven, known solution if it’s too difficult and time-consuming.
They appreciate the difficulties and limitations of capturing knowledge
While different IT service desks will have self-discovered many of the potential barriers to, and pitfalls of, capturing and sharing knowledge. There is research out there, such as the knowledge management principles created by Dave Snowden. For instance, that:
- “Knowledge can only be volunteered it cannot be conscripted”
- “The way people know things is not the way they report they know things”
- “People always know more than they can say, and they will always say more than they can write down”
- “People only know what they know when they need to know it.”>
Bearing these and other human-based guidance in mind when starting out with, or improving, your knowledge management capabilities will help to avoid some common people-related mistakes.
They regularly assess the validity and usefulness of their captured knowledge
Like all of us, knowledge grows old. And what might have worked once, might not work today. Failing to regularly review captured knowledge wastes people’s time because they try to use out-of-date and inaccurate solutions. Just as importantly, such failures to help also slowly kill the likelihood that the knowledge-sharing capability is used.
So, that’s my eight tips for IT service desk knowledge management success. What would you add? Please let me know in the comments.