Knowledge Management Best Practices and Tips

How to make the most of what your organization knows: advice and tips for managing information and knowledge effectively.

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The Importance of Knowledge Management

As we know, knowledge management is a process of collecting, organizing, and storing valuable knowledge and delivering it when needed. Any organization, small or large, produces information. Employees learn efficient ways to do their work, and executives detect management approaches that drive the best results. However, much of this knowledge doesn’t fully achieve the potential it could bring to the company. We’ve all been in a situation where a knowledgeable colleague or employee has left the company. All their knowledge about the market, the clients, and how to manage a specific Excel file was lost.

Preventing knowledge drain is one of many areas where knowledge management becomes helpful. For example, in IT service management, knowledge management mainly focuses on collecting of resolved incidents and solutions. A collection known issues help reduce the volume of incoming requests to the service desk. They also simplify the resolution of many repeat inquiries.

While the benefits of managing knowledge within the IT team are easy to justify, starting it from scratch might be tricky. How to decide which knowledge is worth keeping? What are the best forms of knowledge storage and transfer? How to maintain the relevance of the knowledge you store? We are giving some advice for knowledge management below.

Knowledge base at the core of the process

The knowledge base is an essential tool that IT teams use for knowledge management. The knowledge base is a collection of articles on already known incidents and problems and the ways to resolve them. Knowledge bases help aggregate the insights of individual experts and transform them into shareable resources. This makes individual knowledge accessible to everybody, which eventually leads to better performance and customer experience.

Consistent with its primary purpose, a knowledge base should be easily searchable and have a logical structure. The following knowledge management tips might be helpful when putting together a knowledge base:

Document known errors

The knowledge base may include guides for resolving the most frequent user issues and workarounds to the known errors in the product. Known errors are imperfections in a product that can cause service breaches or lower service quality. They cannot be permanently resolved because either the cost of resolution is too high or it’s planned for a future release. While these known errors remain unresolved, the Known Errors Database (KEDB) can significantly assist end-users and the IT team.

Empower users with self-service options

There are two main practical approaches to using the knowledge base. In the first scenario, the knowledge base is an internal document available to service desk employees only. When an IT specialist thinks an existing instruction might resolve the request, they search for a solution in the knowledge base. In the other scenario, the end-users can search the knowledge base on a self-service portal. These two approaches are often combined.

Use the knowledge base to drive employee learning and development

The knowledge base often contains valuable information for IT employees, such as customer communication best practices and team-wide and personal KPIs. In addition, storing incident and problem models in a knowledge base can be very helpful. Incident and problem models are handbooks that describe resolutions to the most typical incidents and problems.

Use various formats to deliver information

The optimal learning form is individual. Try to use multiple technics of information delivery, including both visuals and engaging texts. Break down complex concepts into easily digestible parts. Think of other learning design tricks to accommodate the tastes of your readers and learners and make the knowledge base most insightful.

Drive content creation for the knowledge base

To motivate people to update the knowledge base, try to simplify this mechanism. For example, in Alloy Navigator, you can automatically set up workflows to create knowledge base articles from the resolved incident and problem records.

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Knowledge management tips across departments and functions

Above, we compiled a list of knowledge management best practices for ITSM. In IT support, knowledge management helps decrease the number of similar requests and facilitates more straightforward resolutions for repetitive incidents. In a broader sense, knowledge management is an organizational process that drives knowledge accumulation and sharing to transform hidden knowledge into actionable insights. This process goes beyond the IT support team and involves all departments that may generate valuable information.

Differentiate between data, information, knowledge, and wisdom

Apply the Data-to-Information-to-Knowledge-to-Wisdom (DIKW) model to your knowledge management practices. The model defines the borders between these four concepts and their places in the knowledge management process.

Let’s illustrate the model by breaking down information management for weather forecasting. The DIKW model defines data as raw and unprocessed measurements you collected with a particular goal. An example of data is a dataset containing temperatures, humidity levels, wind speed, and precipitation during one week in New York City. Information appears when you take the first steps to understand the data. For example, a graph showing some trends in the humidity levels during the week is information.

However, knowledge is gained by applying your comprehension of the topic to the information. For example, a weather forecaster might recognize that consistently high humidity levels preceded periods of heavy rainfall. This knowledge allows them to make predictions. Finally, wisdom is the ability to make management decisions based on forecasts. Such decisions include, for example, allocating additional resources to the utilities and preparing the city’s storm drains. Differentiating between data, information, knowledge, and wisdom is vital because it helps ensure you store and collect the data that provides valuable insights instead of storing just any data.

Involve cross-functional teams for better results

When assembling the knowledge base, try to bring representatives from IT support and the product development teams. Their cross-functional expertise will ensure the content is accurate and relevant, addresses common customer issues, and helps produce an exhaustive list of requirements for the future knowledge base.

Embrace alternative (informal) learning channels

Employees learn a lot about the other departments and what’s happening in the company by socializing with their colleagues from other teams. It’s a process that you can’t manage entirely, but it may be highly effective. When introducing a change requiring learning, consider adding alternative knowledge transfer resources such as a discussion on a corporate forum, an informal newsletter, or a cross-functional offline meeting.

Implementing knowledge management best practices is paramount for any organization aiming to optimize its support services. These practices will streamline support processes and foster a culture of continuous learning and innovation within the organization. As a trusted ITSM software provider, Alloy Software remains committed to helping clients leverage the power of knowledge management. We are sure it will help them eventually drive excellence in service delivery. Book a demo with our sales team to learn more about the knowledge management possibilities of our solutions.

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