ITSM 101: Knowledge Management Tips (Part 2)

InvGate June 21, 2017
- 5 min read

Last week, we published part one of our knowledge management tips blog, which looked at what knowledge management is as well as the Data Information Knowledge Wisdom Model. In part two, we look at the possibilities of gamification in helping with knowledge management adoption, underline the need to measure success, before outlining the benefits of knowledge management. As usual offering tips along the way. 

Before we get started - if you'd like to access all of our knowledge management tips in one place, please download our complimentary White Paper. This features all ten tips covered as part of our two-part blog series, plus a little extra.

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Gamification and Knowledge Management

We’ve already talked about making your knowledge base as easy as possible to update but why not take it to the next level by making it fun too?

One of the coolest things in modern IT service management (ITSM) tools, including InvGate, is gamification. This is the use of game mechanics – usually points, badges, and tangible rewards – to engage employees in their work, to motivate them, to engender team comradery, and to reinforce behaviors. It relies on the very human need for personal recognition, status, and achievement, plus the thrill of competition.

Key tip: as with knowledge management itself, gamification requires organizational change management to help gain buy in, to sell the benefits and banish fears (both personal and of change), and to help drive adoption.

Measure Success

Knowledge management can sometimes be a hard sell to senior management. It’s not seen as being as critical as incident, problem, or change management and there’s always something else ITSM-wise to look at and invest in. So it’s really important to demonstrate knowledge management success – both initially and on an ongoing basis.

Some measurements to consider are:

  • The number of first-time fixes with associated knowledge articles
  • The increase in first-time fixes attributed to knowledge availability
  • The number of articles used (viewed) by end users by type versus incidents logged
  • The number of popular, i.e. recurring, incidents with an associated knowledge article
  • Knowledge article ratings

Key tip: be careful not to drive the wrong behaviors with the metrics used. Get the balance right rather than focusing on one particular element such as knowledge capture.

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What Happens If You are Struggling to Start

Knowledge management is very much a case of Rome not being built in a day.

To borrow the legendary motto from Nike – “Just do it”. Seriously, just do something, even if you start small – because anything you do will be better than doing nothing.

It’s absolutely fine to start small. Look for quick wins. Some examples could be making helpful knowledge available about:

  • Your most business-critical system. The one that makes up the majority of calls to the service desk and the one that everyone worries about when there’s even the tiniest risk of downtime.
  • The system that predates almost everyone else in the department. You know the one – that legacy application that depends on the skills and expertise of just one or two people who aren’t always on hand to help.
  • A new IT service that’s about to be launched. It’s time to start as you mean to go on, get important things documented as early as possible.

Key tip: if you need more inspiration, go to the support team that looks after the trickiest service to support – you know the one – the application or piece of software that everyone dreads falling over because it’s such a nightmare to fix.  Ask them what their top ten support tips are and add them to your knowledge base. Even if all you have is a spreadsheet or word document, you’ve made a start. And that’s the thing – once you’ve made a start with knowledge management you can build on it over time until you’ve got a capability that supports and empowers your people. 

The Benefits of Knowledge Management

One of the hardest parts of starting with knowledge management is selling it – either to the people you want to use it or the people that need to fund it financially. So, my final tip is a quick tick list of potential knowledge management benefits that can be tailored to your organization:

  • Increased efficiency and personal productivity, maybe a reduction in “unit costs.” For the service desk this could be improved first time fix rates. Because if your service desk agents not only have the right skills, but also access to the knowledge to solve common issues while not necessarily being experts in a particular area, then they’ll be able to resolve incidents more quickly. Reducing wait times, cutting incident resolution times, improving up time, and increasing the ability for IT support to meet agreed service levels and to improve customer satisfaction levels.
  • Increased staff retention. Staff attrition can be a real challenge in an IT service desk environment. Anything that can be done to make the job easier and more rewarding, and to improve morale and self-esteem will help with staff retention. Knowledge management is an effective tool here because it empowers staff with the knowledge they need to get their tasks done more swiftly. Gamification will help too as per my earlier point. 
  • Making niche knowledge more widely available. Something that can really frustrate a service desk analyst are calls where the application involved is considered so specialized that issues need to be bounced straight to third-line support. Here knowledge management can be used to bring some of that specialist knowledge into first-line support, with it accessed and used only when needed. It reduces support costs, and the time involved, while again helping with staff retention thanks to both upskilling and increased work variety.

In summary, knowledge management is a capability that can support both technical teams and end users alike. It can reduce incident times, increase the number of already resolved known problems and known errors, and can even be used as a platform from which to start your IT self-service offering.

Get it right and it can lead to more empowered IT staff and happier end users. So, what are you waiting for?

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