Early in my career, I helped organizations implement knowledge management best practices based on the knowledge engineering model. The model required a dedicated team of knowledge engineers, who were often technical writers, to develop, validate, verify, and publish knowledge to a knowledge base for use by support analysts in a support center and by customers using self-service. This was a common model used by many high-tech organizations. It also had many challenges.
In 1992 a number of high-tech firms came together to discuss how to capture, structure, and reuse knowledge. They formed a not-for-profit organization known as the Consortium for Service Innovation. Their goal was to innovate new ways to improve the quality of service for their respective customers. Firms such as Microsoft, Intel, HP, Cisco, 3Com, and Nortel were among the members looking to improve.
The members met a few times throughout each year to share what they tried and discuss ideas. Some would then implement the ideas and report back the results at the next meeting. This sharing of experiences led to the development of a more dynamic and collaborative knowledge management model known as Knowledge-Centered Support (KCS).
KCS has become the knowledge management best practices for service management and has been adopted by technical support organizations supporting their companies’ customers and by help desks and service desks that provide employee support for the IT infrastructure and to human resources organizations. Any support center that needs to resolve problems or provide answers to questions can benefit from KCS.
A core concept within KCS is that knowledge is captured as a byproduct of the problem-solving process, which means knowledge is captured by support analysts in the incident management process. It is the support analysts who are creating and reusing knowledge every day to assist customers who contact them with issues and questions. The knowledge created by a support analyst is immediately made available in the knowledge base as an experience for other support analysts to use. As analysts interact with the knowledge base, they are responsible for flagging or fixing any issues they find with the knowledge before they use it.
This method of knowledge use results in a dynamic knowledge base that is continually being enhanced. The knowledge base is a collaborative space where support analysts share their experiences and improve the quality of the knowledge through reuse.
The most common question initially raised about this methodology was, “How can you trust the quality of the knowledge?” Such questions have been raised and vetted as the methodology has evolved over the years.
KCS is the set of knowledge management best practices for the service desk. I encourage you to learn more about the methodology before selecting a technology. Invest in learning about best practices that others have had success with before implementing knowledge management or if you are looking to improve an existing knowledge management initiative.
About the Author
Rick Joslin is the executive director of certification & training for HDI. He is also certified Knowledge-Centered Support (KCS) instructor and has guided organizations through the implementation of KCS. Rick has served as VP of Customer Care, VP of RightAnswers.com, and VP of Knowledge Engineering for ServiceWare. He is the author of the HDI Focus Book on Knowledge Management, the Knowledge Management Maturity Model, and the “Knowledge Management” chapter in the HDI Service and Support Handbook. Rick is a regular speaker at industry events, a member of the Consortium for Service Innovation, and an evangelist for KCS.
HDI Knowledge Management Foundations: KCS Principles