The Knowledge Management practice is at the core of ITIL 4 processes; and the Service Knowledge Management System (SKMS) is a fundamental tenet of it. SKMS is an essential system for all service-oriented organizations. Implemented correctly, it centralizes service information and shares important knowledge, as well as reducing incidents, outstanding problems, performance issues, and downtime.
People often think an SKMS is too complicated, big, or expensive to implement, leading to lost opportunities for service improvement. To battle with that, in this article, we’ll take a look at its relevance, possible associated challenges in order to overcome them, and some real-life applications. Finally we will see why having solid software that supports Knowledge Management such as InvGate Service Desk is crucial for this process.
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What are Service Knowledge Management Systems in ITIL?
The SKMS operates as the IT organization's centralized repository for managing the lifecycle of its services. It houses the necessary data and knowledge for this purpose, and is designed to store, analyze, and clearly present these resources to the service provider.
It's important to note that the SKMS may not be a singular system. Instead, it's typically a federated apparatus that relies on a variety of data sources across the business, including (but not limited to):
- The Configuration Management System (CMS)
- The organization's Asset Management system
- The definitive software and media library
- Data from the definitive hardware store
- Incident Management data
- Service Request data
- Service desk metrics and KPIs
- Problem Management data
- Change Management/Enablement data
Why are SKMS important?
Saying that SKMS are a critical part of Knowledge Management might not be enough to encourage their adoption, so here are some extra benefits to consider that might do the trick:
- They act as the definitive body of knowledge for the IT department. An SKMS ties together all the data information, knowledge, and wisdom needed to manage and deliver a service.
- They make accessing and sharing knowledge easier, reducing the risk of superhero syndrome – or, in other words, relying on a single person that knows how to fix everything (even that clunky old system that no one else wants to touch). A solid knowledge-sharing system enables you to take your savior's knowledge and experience and make it available to the rest of the team. That way, instead of just having Tony Stark doing his thing and being awesome, you have the Avengers.
- They improve collaboration. Everyone has access to the same information, and a structure is in place to enable sharing and increase flow.
- They enhance customer experience because the more information we have, the easier it is to support our services effectively, efficiently, and safely.
- They decrease human error by giving colleagues access to data and decision-making processes. This gives them the confidence to complete planned work, execute tasks, make the right decisions, and save time and effort.
- They reduce costs. Having a unified asset inventory will highlight duplicated assets, the self-service portal offers tier 0 support, and the Known Error Database (KEDB) helps solve problems once and for all, reducing downtime and customer dissatisfaction.
Challenges of Service Knowledge Management Systems
But of course, implementing SKMS has its challenges, such as:
- They can be a difficult sell. An SKMS is not a quick win because it's not a fast or easy process to adopt. One does not merely spin up an SKMS; if you want to implement one, you're playing the long game.
- They can be expensive to implement in terms of cost, effort, and toolset requirements.
- Potential duplication of information if you don't get the correct integrations in place.
- Data synching can be challenging, especially if your SKMS is made up of lots of different federated databases.
- Maintaining accurate data in large, complex SKMS instances can be difficult.
- Solid guidelines for adding, reviewing, and updating knowledge items must be in place, so information remains accurate and relevant.
How does SKMS work? The 4 layers of Service Knowledge Management Systems
The SKMS is divided into four distinct layers. Each one has its own specific work area and is divided according to the level of information it processes.
The four layers are:
- Data and information
- Knowledge processing
Data and information layer
This layer collects and stores all the information and data needed by the SKMS. It's home to several databases, including the Configuration Management Database (CMDB) or KEDB. It also contains Problem and Configuration Management data, files, documents, Software Asset Management data, and other tools and data sources.
This layer focuses on integrating the collected data in one central location for the service desk and technical support teams. The integration layer of the SKMS is in place to map, normalize, reconcile, and sync the data collected in the data and information layer, giving it additional structure and context, and building relationship data.
Knowledge processing layer
This layer enables information to be analyzed, modeled, monitored, and reported on to allow colleagues to access knowledge. The use of reporting and business analysis enables the SKMS to process data and information into usable knowledge and intelligence.
Finally, this layer presents SKMS users with the collected, analyzed, and structured knowledge in an accessible way. Presentation layers usually have search functions to make the data easy to interrogate, visual materials to enable users to contextualize the information, and browsing features to help colleagues find everything they need quickly and easily. The overall goal is to enable SKMS users to find the knowledge they need to help with decision-making or add and update existing knowledge in the system.
The presentation layers allow users to access information in the form of self-service portals, IT support views, service desk and Asset Management, CMDB relationship information and quality management dashboards. It pulls everything from the previous three layers into easy-to-access and understandable packages for the end user to engage with.
Service Knowledge Management System examples
So, some of the concepts we've discussed can seem very theoretical, so let's talk about some real-life SKMS examples:
- Service Management System for Self-Service
- The Service Portfolio (including the Service Catalog)
- The Configuration Management System and CMDBs
- The Supplier and Contract Management System (SCMIS)
- The Availability Management System (AMIS)
- The Capacity Management Information System (CMIS)
- The Information Security Management Information System (ISMIS)
- The Known Error Database
Service Knowledge Management System software
As discussed earlier, building an SKMS is not easy or quick, and you will need a solid, comprehensive system to underpin it. InvGate Service Desk can be of great help here – especially since one of its Pink verified practices is Knowledge Management.
In particular, InvGate Service Desk can provide you with the following features to build your Service Knowledge Management System:
- A self-service portal with a powerful search engine to simplify access to information.
- A knowledge base to easily create articles and socialize data.
- A service catalog to display in a user-friendly interface all the services provided by the multiple departments enrolled in the service desk.
- Reporting capabilities to improve data analysis.
Plus, its native integration with InvGate Insight enables organizations to have a centralized platform that combines Incident and Asset Management data. In this sense, you’ll be able to create a complete IT asset inventory with software and hardware information, and create CMDBs to map their relationships.
A Service Knowledge Management System tool will bring all your existing ITSM practices together. It is the single point of truth for all IT data information, knowledge, and wisdom and it comprises four layers, each with discrete tasks and associated work packages.
Examples of SKMS systems include self-service portals, Configuration Management databases, and known error databases. Although it can be a long and sometimes overwhelming process, it will significantly improve the quality of service your organization offers. Amongst the main benefits you will get a more comprehensive service overview, easier knowledge sharing, and Ticket Management.
It's important to have the right Service Knowledge Management System software supporting you along the way. Ask for a 30 day free trial to see for yourself how InvGate Service Desk can help you stay on top of your Knowledge Management!
Frequently Asked Questions
Why are Knowledge Management Systems beneficial to service desk analysts?
They can give them a single source of the truth in one easy-to-access presentation layer.
Is the Service Knowledge Management System part of the portfolio?
The SKMS is closely related to the service portfolio, including information about the service pipeline and current and retired services.
What are the three major Knowledge Management Systems?
The three major Knowledge Management Systems are:
- Business Intelligence Systems (BIS)- Designed to support decision-making by promptly providing access to relevant data and information. These systems typically include features such as data warehousing, data mining, reporting, analytics, and visualization tools. BIS systems can also have predictive analytics and machine learning capabilities to help organizations identify patterns and trends in their data.
- Enterprise Content Management (ECM) -Designed to capture, manage, store, maintain, and deliver content and documents related to an organization's processes and operations. ECM systems typically include features such as document management, records management, workflow management, and collaboration tools.
- Knowledge Management Systems (KMS) - To help organizations create, share, and use knowledge effectively. These systems typically include features such as knowledge creation, capture, storage, retrieval, and transfer, as well as collaboration tools.
What are the four different types of Knowledge Management?
The four types of Knowledge Management are: data and information, integration, knowledge, and presentation layers.
Are Service Knowledge Management Systems part of the CMS?
The CMS is part of the SKMS.
What are the four key characteristics of Knowledge Management Systems?
The four key characteristics of Knowledge Management Systems are:
- Capture and creation of knowledge - KMS facilitate the capture and creation of knowledge from various sources, including federated IT applications and systems, subject matter experts, existing documentation, and other knowledge repositories. This involves gathering and organizing knowledge in a structured manner that is easily accessible to all.
- Storage and retrieval of knowledge - KMS store and retrieve knowledge in a way that is easily accessible and searchable by users. This includes using databases, Content Management Systems, knowledge articles, and other software tools to store, organize, and manage knowledge.
- Sharing and disseminating knowledge - KMS enable sharing and dissemination of knowledge across different parts of an organization. This includes using cohesive management systems and federated databases, collaboration tools, social networks, and other platforms that allow users to share information and work with others.
- Application and utilization of knowledge - KMS help organizations apply and use knowledge to achieve their strategic, tactical and operational goals and objectives. This includes using reporting, analytics and other tools to identify trends, patterns and insights from the knowledge and developing processes, procedures and work instructions that enable the organization to use the knowledge effectively.