ITSM 101: 8 Keys to Successful IT Service Desk KCS Adoption

John Custy May 30, 2018
- 4 min read

Knowledge Centered Service (KCS®) is a proven, principles-based methodology for integrating the (re)use, validation, improvement, and creation of knowledge into operational workflows, including the workflows used within IT service management (ITSM) and the IT service desk in particular.

KCS is a transformational step in the maturing of an IT service desk – moving it from being viewed merely as call-takers (low value) to an organization responsible for producing a high value product/service – knowledge – which is then reused and has significantly more value than just taking calls.KCS is different from the traditional knowledge engineering approach, and so to successfully adopt KCS, the organization needs to understand the value that the KCS ecosystem can provide. It addresses continuous improvement in a many-to-many model and adopting KCS can result in operational efficiencies, organizational learning, and the opportunity to improve processes, products, and services.

Following are the eight areas that have been identified as key factors for successfully adopting KCS.

1. Create a Strategic Framework

The four components of a strategic framework for KCS are:

  • Identifying the business objectives (the what)
  • The approach (the how)
  • The measurements for each approach, and
  • The performance targets for each approach.

The strategic framework addresses each of these components for the three key stakeholders: the customer, the knowledge worker (for the IT service desk is would be the service desk agents), and the organization.

2. Agree a Content Standard

The KCS content standard describes the knowledge article structure to ensure a level of consistency for the knowledge worker which will result in a more findable and usable knowledge article.

The content standard sets the knowledge article quality guideline by documenting the structure of each field (in the article), quality criteria (what is good enough), and the state (lifecycle) of the knowledge article.

3. Document the Workflow/Process Map

The knowledge worker’s (i.e., tier 1, tier 2, tier 3 support staff) workflow needs to be documented and tweaked so that knowledge article creation is part of the overall workflow process for the organization.

Articles are not created after-the-fact, but as part of the problem-solving process. Thus, the workflow must include how systems-of-record technology and processes are integrated. And the support and service desk tools must work at the speed of conversation for people to use the tools and processes “in process.”

4. Define KCS Roles and Responsibilities

There are four key roles in KCS:

  • Leaders
  • Coaches
  • Knowledge developers, and
  • Knowledge domain experts (KDEs).

The roles, responsibilities, and competencies for each role must be documented, performance measured, and achievements recognized.

For the knowledge developer (i.e., tier 1, tier 2, tier 3), responsibilities in the solve loop, capture, structure, reuse, and improvement must be clearly defined in the support and service desk workflows.

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5. Use a Performance Assessment Mechanism

KCS performance assessment evaluates the creation of value (through the use of KCS).

To assess value, the performance drivers need to identified, the difference between leading and lagging indicators understood, objective versus subjective metrics, qualitative versus quantitative metrics, and how and where to use of them.

The KCS performance assessment requires a different way of thinking about organizational performance since the product is knowledge. And new performance measures will reinforce the behavioral changes that will be needed for a successful KCS adoption.

KCS metrics should include not only process outputs and leading indicators, but the outcomes stakeholders care about as well:

  • Customer satisfaction
  • Employee engagement
  • The impact of KCS on profitability, customer retention, and employee turnover, and
  • Product/service improvement opportunities identified from KCS.

Balanced scorecards are used to provide a view of the overall health of the KCS ecosystem. And the four quadrants often used for KCS are:

  • Employee (engagement, growth, retention)
  • Customer (NPS, customer effort/experience, retention/growth)
  • Financial (resource utilization, costs, margin)
  • Process (efficiency, effectiveness, content/article health)

6. Don’t Neglect the Importance of Leadership

Leadership needs to provide the vision, purpose, and criteria for KCS success. Leaders provide boundaries, model the behaviors, engage the staff, promote teamwork, and recognize team members for their contributions and achievements.

When leadership creates a knowledge-sharing culture, team members are more willing to share their knowledge because they understand its value to fellow team members and the organization. Leaders also need to understand how KCS enables the four key employee motivational factors – achievement, recognition, interesting work, and responsibility – necessary to build and maintain a knowledge culture.

7. Create and Follow a KCS Adoption Roadmap

Adopting KCS requires a fundamental change in support services strategy, which means that the project will be transformational for those involved.

This transformation requires a documented roadmap that identifies key stakeholder responsibilities and management, definitions of strategic objectives and timetable, and a unified vision of the successful end-state.

The KCS adoption roadmap should address the following four phases:

  • Plan and design
  • Adoption
  • Proficiency, and
  • Knowledge base leverage.

And success metrics for each phase need to be defined and measured to ensure the right level of maturity before moving to the next phase.

8. Don’t Forget the KCS Communication Plan

A KCS communication plan is a detailed, organized approach to sharing information to gain support for the KCS initiative. A communication plan should include:

  • Key messages for all stakeholders
  • The KCS elevator pitch
  • How to handle objections
  • The answers to frequently asked questions (FAQ)
  • Delivery channels (for the communications plan)
  • Activities for stakeholder engagement
  • Socialization, and
  • A project plan with timeframes for the deliverables.

Understanding these eight factors, as well as your organization’s system maturity and capabilities, are critical in ensuring that your adoption of KCS provides the operational, leveraged, and applied benefits that are expected.

Is your organization already succeeding with KCS? If so, what would you add to the above? Please let me know in the comments.

KCS® is a registered service mark of the Consortium for Service Innovation. 

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