IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL®) is the most widely adopted service management framework in the industry. Yet with all its clearly defined processes, one required process is lacking: knowledge management.
Many organizations have learned that no one framework provides all the necessary guidance and that the best solution for the organization is to design their service management processes based on a number of frameworks and methodologies. This is definitely true for those organizations that want to implement knowledge management to improve support.
Knowledge-Centered Support (KCS) is a methodology that complements ITIL. Developed independently in the 1990s by the Consortium for Service Innovation, KCS is a set of knowledge management best practices for the support organization. As KSC evolved, KCS experts began to integrate KCS practices into the ITIL processes. A key point learned is that knowledge management is not a separate and independent process; rather it must be integrated into many processes. For example:
Support analysts must search the knowledge base for each incident. If they find a knowledge article that satisfies the need, they are to use it. They link the incident to the article in this process. If they find an error in the article, they are to flag the article for improvement, or fix it if they have the authority to do so. This enhances the knowledge base. If they do not find an article to address the incident, then they continue on the diagnostic and research path until a resolution is developed. Knowing that they have satisfied a customer with the resolution, they need to add the new knowledge they just created for the customer into the knowledge base for future reuse.
Request Management, Access Management, and Event Management have similar integrations to knowledge management as incident management.
All known problems are to have a related knowledge article in the knowledge base. This informs a person who is experiencing the problem that the problem is known and what steps they should take. As problem management investigates and discovers the cause of a problem, the cause is recorded in the knowledge article. The same is true as workarounds and fixes are developed. In addition knowledge management enables trend analysis within assisted services via the reuse counter. This identifies issues that very frequently impact the environment and should be investigated by problem management.
To justify the approval of a change request, change management evaluates the business impact of the problem. Linking knowledge articles to incidents benefits this activity. Change management can also require Release and Deployment to implement changes to the knowledge base when related changes to the environment are made.
Release and Deployment
As changes are implemented to correct known errors, the related knowledge articles are to be updated. Sometimes when releasing new products within the environment, it is justified to deliver new knowledge articles as well. The investment in new knowledge articles should be made based on potential business impact and risk, similar to the decision process used for IT business continuity planning.
Service Level Management
Offering a self-service option and setting expectations for this service should be included in your service level agreement. In your operational level agreements, you need the escalating party to agree to use the knowledge base before escalating an incident, and the supporting party to agree to capture and share the new knowledge created when the incident is resolved.
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.