Here is an argument for how knowledge management and knowledge-centered support can supercharge your IT support observation.

by Michael Hanson
Date Published June 5, 2023 - Last Updated February 20, 2024

We live in a fast-paced and frequently changing technology environment. To succeed, we need every advantage we can get, and in this environment, knowledge is power. As a result, support teams that can effectively capture, share, and reuse knowledge have a distinct performance advantage.

That's where knowledge management and KCS (Knowledge-Centered Support) come into play. When a support team adopts these practices, it can improve its customer service and support operations, drive innovation, reduce costs, and foster a culture of continuous learning.

Having recently gone through an extensive knowledge management initiative, I wanted to explore the importance of knowledge management and KCS and how they can supercharge your support operations, helping you stay ahead of the curve in today's rapidly evolving technology landscape.

First, it's essential to understand that there is a difference between a knowledge base and knowledge management. A common objection to adopting a formal knowledge management program is, “We already have a knowledge base.” However, there is a significant distinction between the two – having a knowledge base is good, but knowledge management takes it to the next level. It's not simply a repository of information; it is a broader approach to capturing, sharing, and using knowledge.

Knowledge-Centered Support is a method of knowledge management designed for support teams. The underlying principle is that as we go about our daily routine troubleshooting incidents and problems, the necessary knowledge to resolve individual issues will be a normal by-product of the problem-solving process. That information is captured and shared so that it can be used to solve that issue if and when it comes up again.

Let's examine some of the benefits of adopting Knowledge-Centered Support.

First, it offers a documented method of how to share knowledge effectively. If the Support Analyst does this as part of the everyday workflow, it enables them to access relevant knowledge when needed quickly. As a result, incidents will be resolved faster – perhaps even on the first contact – which leads to improved customer satisfaction. This is particularly important for support teams because the goal is getting the customer's issue fixed and getting them back to work as soon as possible.

Next, KCS improves the overall productivity of the support teams. It consistently provides accurate and relevant knowledge quickly. Rather than having to figure it out every time it happens, there's a central point where the analyst can find up-to-date knowledge. Having the proper expertise available at the right time will increase customer satisfaction.

Related to productivity is the ability to quickly make good decisions. Because issues are documented, how an incident is handled can be determined very quickly. If it can be resolved during the first call, the documentation will provide the necessary steps; otherwise, it will document how and where to escalate an issue for further remediation.

Consistency is also an essential factor. Since knowledge is stored in a centralized spot, the entire team uses the same documentation. As a result, customers will get the same reliable answers no matter who they speak with on the support team, leading to a higher quality experience.

Another improvement gained by adopting KCS is an improved team experience within the support organization. It promotes the sharing of knowledge so support analysts can work together and learn from each other. As the use of the knowledge base becomes routine, the entire team's skills will improve. In addition, as they understand the benefits of using the knowledge base, there should be an increase in sharing; analysts will willingly contribute their knowledge for the good of the team. This improves employee engagement and motivation because everyone feels that their contributions are valued, are being used, and are impactful.

It's clear that knowledge management and KCS offer many benefits. But still, many organizations hesitate.

One common objection is, "It takes too much time and effort." The organization may be large, or the environment may be complex. The reality is that those things are arguments that favor adopting KCS. Sharing knowledge means less duplication of effort and a faster resolution rate. If necessary, start small, one team at a time, and gradually build up an effective pool of knowledge.

Another concern is, "It's too expensive." Yes, there will be costs involved in implementing a knowledge management program. However, these are only in the short term, as proper leverage of tools and training can quickly offset the initial spend. If time equals money, knowledge management will reduce the time it takes to search for information, which gets the customer and the business back up and running sooner.

And finally, there's, "We're too busy." As with other arguments, this can also be used in favor of KCS. A practical knowledge management system will reduce workload because the information is easier to find and share.

If you don't have a knowledge management system in place and need to market the idea, here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Start with the basics, become versed in what KCS is and why it's essential, so you can effectively explain it to potential stakeholders.
  • Research real-world examples, contact other support teams who have started using knowledge management, and highlight their successes.
  • Consider any concerns that may come up and be prepared to counter them.
  • Finally, make it relevant by returning the benefits to your specific team or industry.

Knowledge management and KCS are powerful tools that enable organizations to capture, share and reuse valuable knowledge. By adopting these practices, support teams can improve customer satisfaction, increase productivity, promote consistency and better decision-making, reduce costs, and foster a culture of continuous learning. With knowledge management and KCS, organizations can supercharge their IT service and support operations, ensuring they deliver the highest quality support to their customers.

Mike Hanson is Vice President, IT Service Desk Operations at PSCU

Tag(s): supportworld, support models, technology


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