by John Coles
Date Published March 4, 2015 - Last Updated June 27, 2016

This is part 2 of a 2-part series. Missed part 1? Read it here!

In the first part of this series, I introduced you to Knowledge-Flow Maturity, which provides an alternative to KCS while making progress toward KCS. The Knowledge-Flow Maturity snapshot (K-Flow) takes into consideration the uniqueness of each organization (as well as teams within the organization) as it identifies short-term K-Flow Parameters to target and prioritize into bite-size projects. Not only does this baseline an organization’s knowledge management program, but it also provides a vision for the future and a map forward.

In this article, we'll take a look at the twelve K-Flow parameters, also known as the twelve hurdles of an effective knowledge base, and we'll see how an organization can be measured over time to promote and drive continuous improvement.

12 Knowledge-Flow Management Parameters

Here are the twelve K-Flow parameters and the reason why we ask them. They are all dependent on other parameters, and each can impact the effectiveness of your organization.

  • Content: Without content, individuals and teams scramble to find answers for the customer or end user. The Content Maturity parameter provides a description of what content should look like, how it should be treated, and where it should be located.
    • Do you know how many knowledge assets you have?
    • How many are redundant? Conflicting? Cannibalize efficiency?
    • What is the health of your content?
  • Searchability and findability: This is the essence of a knowledge base. If you can't find information, the tool won't be used. Research shows that workers spend 20 percent of their work week (or more!) searching for answers. That's at least one full day devoted to that task.
    • How do you know customers and employees can find answers?
    • How are you measuring findability?
  • Organizational structure: This explains how weak or strong a group is atmanaging information and knowledge.
    • Is the organization setup for success?
    • Does information and knowledge flow, making the group, and ultimately the company, more efficient and smarter?
    • Are authoring, publishing, and coaching skillsets increasing across the population? How do you track these skillsets across your organization?
  • Training: Knowledge management training will allow the organization to scale more efficiently. How prepared is your organization to handle these changes?
    • Is the team developing its knowledge management skillsets and becoming a learning organization?
    • Is the team receiving training on how to search, author, publish, or coach?
    • Are they training leaders on knowledge recognition and trend analysis?
      • Do you measure the knowledge management activity?
      • How do you know you are growing this knowledge competency?
      • How many authors do you have at the beginning of the year, and how many do you have at the end of the year?
    • Leadership: Leadership must be engaged in knowledge management to drive an efficient knowledge pathway across the organization. This has the greatest impact (positive or negative) on all the other parameters.
      • How do you know the leaders are engaged?
      • How do you measure your leaders' engagement?
    • Reporting: If you can't measure it, you can't manage it. More specifically, if you can't measure it, you can't guide your team! Higher maturity scores reflect the traits of a learning organization. Solid knowledge base usage equals greater productivity, revenue, and savings.
      • Do you know your knowledge management metrics?
      • Are you measuring beyond the knowledge base tool?
      • Are you doing trend analysis with knowledge management metrics?
      • Are you driving change with your knowledge management metrics?
    • Recognition: You can only ask a person to volunteer his/her knowledge. It can't be forced. An appropriate recognition programs sets the environment for inclusion, knowledge sharing, and volunteering.
      • Who do you recognize for knowledge-related work?
      • How often do you recognize team members for knowledge reuse, modification, or collaboration?
      • Who recognizes them?
      • Do you balance recognition with productivity?
    • Communication: This is aligned with leadership. More communication around knowledge management, the faster the organization moves to a learning organization and an efficient knowledge economy.
      • What do you communicate about your organizational knowledge?
      • How often do you communicate?
      • Who communicates?
    • ROI: Effectively measuring and tying knowledge management to ROI changes the organization's approach across the board. If you can't tie knowledge management to ROI, the organization will do the same things over and over and over again.
      • Are your knowledge management measures tied to your existing KPIs?
      • Do you know the cost per answer served?
      • Are you affecting KPIs in other departments?
    • Self-help: This is an extension of effective knowledge management. Self-help allows your team to make a larger population more productive, reaching and helping more customers than ever before. Making others productive is what it is all about!
      • How many of your employees can publish a knowledge base article directly to your self-service portal?
      • How many contacts can you mitigate via self-help?
      • Are your customers getting the answers they seek via self-help?
    • Proactive business intelligence: This allow teams to move out of their silos and toward collaborating across tiers, flattening the organization. This increases inclusion, transparency, and sharing, and it pushes change into other departments. This parameter is a very strong organizational change lever.
      • Who are the internal customers consuming your metrics, communication, and trend analysis?
      • How many "organizational impacts" were initiated from your knowledge management ecosystem?
    • Culture: This speaks to the overall feel of your knowledge environment. Culture is a reflection of maturity across the K-Flow parameters, and it's a great indication of organizational engagement.
      • Does your culture reflect a feeling of embattlement?
      • Is your culture more mature, with teams that are focused on sharing and collaboration?

    Putting K-Flow into Play

    The twelve K-Flow parameters are given to a representative cross-section of your organization, consisting of managers, team leads, back-end ops, SMEs, and other people familiar with the operations and flow of knowledge across the organization. A comfortable sample size is seven to fifteen people. For each of the twelve K-Flow parameters, the assessment questions are asked in this format:
    “When you think about [parameter], which of the following best describes your organization?” 

    Each participant records the score based on his/her knowledge and perception of the K-Flow Paramter. After averaging all of the assessment responses, you'll have your first baseline. Once you have that, it's time to roll up your sleeves and take action. Work with your leaders, management, and the assessment group to prioritize your knowledge management focus for the next several months.  
    Of course, this isn't the end. This process merely establishes a new high-water mark and identifies more parameters to prioritize, focus, and mature. Keep in mind, every organizaiton will move at a different speed. The most important thing to remember is that knowledge management is not a project, it's a journey. Successfully managing knowledge allows you to differentiate your organization from all the others. Customers and end users don't want you to work harder, faster, or cheaper—they just want answers.

    As part of the Industry Solutions team at eGain, John Coles helps organizations make sense of their contact channel strategies. Previously, John worked his way through the ranks at Dell, managing L1 and L3 support in the contact center, leading the product management for global contact channels, spending time in managed services and the ITO, and eventually becoming a senior manager focused on knowledge management practices.

    Tag(s): KCS, best practice, KM, knowledge management, process, practices and processes, supportworld


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