Consultant and Knowledge sharing enthusiast
Who owns the Knowledge Base at your Service Desk? The politically correct answer is probably “it’s a joint effort”. But in real life, isn't the Knowledge Manager the one doing most of the writing, editing and publishing? This happens quite a lot, it's not optimal, and this is what to do about it.
Quite a few Knowledge Managers treat their Knowledge Base as their personal project. They act as the gatekeepers of all documented knowledge of your service desk, closely guarding the information flow. They edit and authorize each knowledge item before it’s published.
The gatekeeper approach to knowledge management is less tenable than in the past. There are two developments in IT that are pushing you to take another approach to your role as knowledge manager.
Expectations are changing: more self-service, faster delivery
Your customers are getting more demanding when it comes to self-service. If they can google the answer to any question within seconds, why would it have to take hours to get an answer from your service desk? Your customer expect you to offer some kind of self-service portal, where they can find answers to their FAQs and fixes for their most common problems.
Business demands are changing, too. IT used to be all about providing consistent quality, but with the rise of agile, focus is shifting from perfect products to fast delivery. Sure, for critical functions you still need to guarantee stability. For everything else, Knowledge Management included, there’s a pretty good chance the business expects you to prioritize speed of delivery over quality.
So you’re expected to publish more knowledge. And do so faster. But how? You have too little time for knowledge management as it is. How to speed up delivery while maintaining quality?
Crowdsource your knowledge base
Your solution to delivering quality content faster? Don’t go at it alone. Use the wisdom of the crowd.
Compare recording your knowledge to compiling an encyclopedia. When you aim to write the Encyclopedia Britannica with a select groups of editors, it will take you years, if not decades of collecting, writing and editing before you can publish your first edition.
Why not start your own Wikipedia? Write down what you know, publish what you have, and let anyone who wants to contribute correct and add to the content. Using the input and feedback from your IT department and your customers, your knowledge base will gradually grow in size and improve in quality.
Crowdsourcing your knowledge base is becoming increasingly common, with Knowledge Centered Service (KCS) as the most popular framework.
Can you trust your operators to write knowledge items?
An often-heard objection from Knowledge Managers who act as gatekeepers: “Can I trust my operators with writing decent knowledge items? Don’t I need to review the items before publication?”
Well, answer this question for me: do you trust your operators to write an answer for an individual in a call? Yes? Well, then you should trust them with publishing knowledge items, too. The information in a call serves the exact same purpose as a knowledge item: explain to your caller how to solve their issue.
As a Knowledge Manager, you have to let go of reviewing all knowledge items before they’re published. This makes you a bottleneck in the process. You significantly slow down the process of getting knowledge to your customers.
The future of the Knowledge Manager
If knowledge management is becoming a task of the entire department, where does this leave you as Knowledge Manager? Will you still have a job?
Sure you will. But it won’t be the same.
Instead of acting as gatekeeper of all information, managing and editing all knowledge items before they’re published, you will act as a curator. Your main task will no longer be to create, review and publish all knowledge items, but you will do what the role indicated all along: you’ll be managing all knowledge.
You’ll identify the demand of your customers. You’ll create a knowledge sharing culture at your service desk. You’ll educate and instruct your team on how to best record their knowledge, and you’ll guard the process.
Start increasing your impact
The good thing is: when you approach your role as Knowledge Manager as a curator instead ofgatekeeper, you’ll have a larger impact. You can leverage the knowledge of an entire department, allowing to your share you much more of your knowledge with your customers, much faster.
Share Knowledge Better in your Organisation
Want more inspiration on building better knowledge bases? Download our Knowledge Management e-book for tips and tricks and a way to calculate your time and cost savings.
Is it time to change the role description for Knowledge Managers? Weigh in in the comments below.