What is Knowledge Management?

Unlocking the Power of Knowledge: Understanding the Fundamentals of Knowledge Management.

Knowledge management: a broad view

Employees and executives in every organization implicitly or explicitly churn out new knowledge in the course of their day-to-day activities. An organizational process aimed at collecting, curating, and storing valuable knowledge and delivering it when needed is called knowledge management.

You might think: “I’m not sure my business generates any knowledge. After all, we’re not a scientific laboratory. We’re just selling stuff.” However, no matter what value you provide to your customers, whether scientifically backed or a consumer product, your team generates knowledge while it solves routine tasks. If you convert this knowledge to a tidy format, it may be valuable for your other business objectives. For example, the knowledge from the sales team about the typical lead profile might help marketers create more compelling materials. The insights from the IT support team may become an inspiration source for your product people.

A diverse group of professionals gathered around a table, discussing and sharing ideas, with various icons representing knowledge management such as a lightbulb, gears, and a cloud, emphasizing collaboration and the exchange of information.

The purpose of knowledge management

Let’s see how theory defines knowledge to understand the purpose of knowledge management.

The knowledge management theory defines tacit knowledge as knowledge based on personal experiences or intuition. Regarding professional skills, tacit knowledge is any skill you’re good at while practicing it intuitively. Imagine an experienced chef creating a tasty dish without a recipe. They intuitively understand how to combine the ingredients to get the best result. Ask them to explain why they decided on this or that seasoning – and they will likely have a hard time. Tacit knowledge is hard to articulate, which is a challenge for organizations.

There is another type of knowledge called implicit. Implicit knowledge is somewhat similar to the concept of unspoken norms. For example, in an organization, implicit knowledge denotes the rules such as how strict the deadlines are, whether you can contact a colleague in off-hours or not, and how openly management and employees communicate. Unlike tacit knowledge, articulating implicit knowledge is easy, but people usually need to document it.

On the other hand, explicit knowledge is documented, widely accessible, and actionable. Therefore, knowledge management focuses on the discovery of tacit and implicit knowledge in the organization, its documentation, and distribution to the point of need. This way, the “hidden” knowledge becomes explicit and can bring value.

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Managing knowledge in IT support

The previous section dealt with the general definition of knowledge management. In IT service management (ITSM), knowledge management has a slightly different scope and goals. It is one of the core ITSM processes aiming at accumulating knowledge collected during IT service delivery.

The solutions our company provides focus mainly on knowledge management for IT teams. In ITSM, knowledge management becomes especially significant because storing valuable knowledge helps prevent new incidents and reduce the workload of the IT team. The overall objective of knowledge management in ITSM is to enable easy retrieval of already known solutions to reuse them when a similar issue is found.

The knowledge base and how it is used

The heart of the knowledge management process in ITSM is the knowledge base – a structured, logical, shareable, and renewable database. For easy and quick information retrieval, the knowledge base should be searchable. It is usually thoroughly tagged; every article belongs to a category. Let’s see how a knowledge base can help the IT team in practice.

Using ready-made solutions to respond to incoming requests.

First, IT support specialists treat each incoming request individually. Then, at some point, they realize that much of their work is troubleshooting similar issues that users can resolve on their own. A written guide would be enough, and the involvement of the IT team isn’t necessary. IT support specialists then write an article describing the resolution process and post it to a public knowledge base. Alloy Navigator has a special knowledge base module in its solution for ITSM.

Using the known errors database (KEDB).

Also, the so-called known error databases come in handy for IT support. Known errors are imperfections of the IT system that result in service breaches. Due to the nature of those imperfections, the IT team cannot fix or remove them. However, a proven workaround for such an issue lets users enjoy the service despite system imperfections. We elaborated on known errors when discussing problem management and its best practices. So a known errors database contains records about the known errors, the symptoms of specific known errors, and the workarounds for them. Once a support specialist finds out the user is facing a known error, they refer to the KEDB and share the workaround with the user.

Intranet for IT.

Another widespread use case of the knowledge base in IT support is creating an internal knowledge base for IT support specialists. Such a knowledge base may include valuable materials, such as tips for accomplishing specific tasks and team-wide and personal KPIs for every grade. This knowledge base application is not IT team-specific and can be used by various departments or even the whole organization. You can even use the same software module for an internal knowledge base. In this case, make sure to manage permissions carefully.

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The benefits of knowledge management

An organized approach to knowledge management in IT brings tangible business implications. Here are some of them.

Increased business volume without hiring more employees.

With a reliable knowledge base, your support agents can process more requests simultaneously. Part of the users will help themselves through the self-service public knowledge base. And those who need personalized assistance will get it sooner because support specialists will have ready-to-use resolution templates.

Higher customer satisfaction through easier self-help.

Many customers prefer self-help over personal contact with a specialist. Researches show that 90% of customers expect the company to have an online self-service portal. Some avoid social contact due to being shy, the others – because they feel it saves their time. Granting access to a self-service portal usually helps increase customer satisfaction rate.

Fewer service desk requests.

Because customers have a public database to answer any questions, they will contact the IT team for help less often. In addition, the lower workload for service desk staff allows them to focus on more complex issues that require their attention and reduce the wait times for those users who need personalized help.

Employee turnover doesn’t result in lost knowledge.

With a knowledge management process, the company retains the knowledge of the employees that leave. Effective knowledge transfer can help your organization maintain its competitive advantage and prepare for the future.

Easier onboarding of new employees.

Even interns with zero experience can handle some incoming requests with a knowledge base. When the team’s knowledge is documented, onboarding a new employee gets quicker. There’s no need to involve a senior employee in training the juniors, and every team member remains focused on their current tasks.

There are many challenges coming with the implementation of knowledge management. Still, organizations that prioritize this function are likely to enjoy a competitive advantage in today’s rapidly changing business environment. Alloy Software’s flagship product Alloy Navigator contains a robust knowledge base in all configurations; it comes as part of the self-service portal. Its flexible architecture allows you to include knowledge base articles in custom workflows. Please speak with our sales team to learn more!

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