How to Start Using a Knowledge Base for the IT Help Desk

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Many people think knowledge management is just software but it is much more than that; knowledge management is a discipline.

Knowledge Management is a discipline that takes a comprehensive, systematic approach to the information assets of an organization by identifying, capturing, collecting, organizing, indexing, storing, integrating, retrieving and sharing them. Such assets include (a) the explicit knowledge such as databases, documents, environmental knowledge, policies, procedures and organizational culture; and (b) the tacit knowledge of its employees, their expertise and their practical work experience. It strives to make the collective knowledge information and experience of the organization available to individual employees for their use and to motivate them to contribute their knowledge to the collective assets.

Create a process change management plan

You will need a process-change management plan because you are asking people to do their jobs differently. The plan specifies how you will gain acceptance of knowledge management within the organization. Let us say you are a service desk manager and you measure your employees by call handling time and number of cases closed. Now you are going to be asking them to use knowledgebase on every call they take, every e-mail they answer, and so you are asking them to change the way they earn their living on a day-to-day basis. You are going to also ask them to share their knowledge through creating knowledge articles. If you do not also make changes to their performance reviews and compensation, then there will be friction because you're asking them to do one thing but you are judging them by another set of rules. As part of the overall plan you need to update job descriptions, feedback sessions and performance reviews to reflect the new workflow. Neglecting to make these changes is likely to create friction.

Where and how to start

We advise that you pick one area that needs real improvement or has limited resources, and then build a robust knowledgebase for that subject matter. A good place to start is to look at past incident history. What are the most common types of incidents? Which incidents take the longest time to resolve? Which ones would be easiest for customers to solve themselves if they had answers that they could understand? Use that experience to learn about implementing knowledge in your organization; do one topic or one product group and learn from there. It is much better to be comprehensive for a narrow topic than fail to get enough depth. Sometimes an enterprise initiative is needed right away, and it can be done successfully, but it is a bigger resource commitment to do a bigger project all at once.


Click to download a White Paper on Knowledge Base ROI