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Appendix D KCS Roles and Competencies

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KCS Candidate (KCS I)



KCS Candidate - Range of Knowledge



Incident management and knowledge management functions

Call management is for the incident related information needed for call administration; knowledge management is for the reusable elements of the problem solving experience.

Identify where pieces of information belong;

Customer name, contact, contract/entitlement, severity level are all call/incident related

Problem description, relevant environment information, the answer/fix to the problem and cause information are reusable and go in the knowledge base


Knowledge and the purpose of a Knowledge base

Knowledge is actionable information; it is a collection of data that describes activities that will produce a desired outcome.

The knowledge base complements the Support Analyst's experience, use of a knowledge base requires judgment and skill, and a Support Analyst should never deliver an article to a customer that they do not understand.

A knowledge base is the collection of experiences to-date of the organization; at any point in time it represents the best understanding of what we have collectively learned.


The concept of an "article"

An article is:

- The name we use for the knowledge object

- The place we capture the problem solving experience

Articles contain the problem description as experienced by the customer, information about the environment in which the problem occurred, answers, fix or work-around for the problem, and the cause of the problem

Articles have a life cycle, at the outset they may only contain a description of the problem (work in progress), when the problem is resolved they contain the fix/answer and the cause (verified)

Articles are dynamic; they are constantly being updated through use. "An article is complete when it is obsolete"


KCS, the workflow and the Structured Problem Solving process

KCS is a problem solving methodology that includes searching and updating a knowledge base.

Capture individual experiences in solving problems to create a collective/organizational memory.


Capturing the customer's experience in the workflow

Capturing the customer experience, in their terminology is critical for future findability

Literal element of the structured problem solving process


Searching techniques

First capture customer perspective and search using customer language

Use your own words to refine the search

Keyword searching and Boolean commands

Queries, looking for criteria fit, date range, created by, status

Natural language searching

Associative searches



Content structure - the power of context

Identify good content structure,

In the context (vocabulary) of the target audience

Correct - Separate problem content from environment content

Concise - complete thoughts, not complete sentences

Clear - independent thoughts, not multiple thoughts

The goal is findable, usable articles


When to initiate a search

Gathering sufficient information, a description of the problem and a few words/phrases about the environment.

Search early, search often, this ensures you are not working on a problem that has already been solved.


When to STOP searching

When the search statements have been refined; the problem statement is complete and we have collected 2 -3 characteristics about the environment that are believed to be relevant.  If at this point the search response is not providing anything that appears relevant then it is time to move into the analysis phase of problem solving.


Concepts of the content standard and article structure

Basic types of content

Problem description - symptoms, unexpected results, error messages, goal or description of what they are trying to do. The resolution answers/resolves the problem description

Environment - products involved (hardware, software, and networks) release or version, recent changes to the environment. The environment statements do not change when the problem is resolved.

Resolution - the answer to the question, a work-around, circumvention or by-pass, fix.

Cause - background reasons for the problem or question (optional)  


The concept of reuse and the value of tracking reuse

Reuse of articles in the knowledge base drives:

Identification of content that should be made available to a wider audience

Identification of issues that need to be addressed by product or application development

Identification of process failures


Structured Problem Solving (SPS)

 Key elements of the Structure Problem Solving Process

Manage the call/conversation; deal with the administrative elements at the beginning (call initiation) and end of the call (wrap up). This will allow focus on the customer's objective of problem solving.

The SPS process [admin....Literal  .... Diagnostic .... Research ...admin]

The SPS process involves application of a methodology for collecting, organizing, and analyzing details which develops a constructive outcome.  The end-point should be an understanding of the situation and a resolution or answer. 


The dynamics of article reuse

Reuse of articles is generally a good thing, however:

Low levels of reuse can be an indicator that the articles are not findable due to structure issues or problems with the search algorithms

High levels of reuse can be an indicator that the sources of the exceptions are not being removed from the environment. 


Create a new article vs. reuse an existing one

Two key points about creating a new article vs. updating an existing article.

Article creation should occur when a unique entity is required to address a set of circumstances not yet documented in the KB

A newly created article may or may not be complete, but it adds value to the knowledge-sharing process


Article meta data and concepts of the article life cycle

Article creation involves adding attributes to a article that help organize the KB content, control visibility, and facilitate assessing the value of article entities. Managing both data and metadata is required for effective article creation.


Understands the organizational value of KCS, can explain the benefits of sharing knowledge

Benefits to each of the three stakeholders

Support Analysts - less redundant work, recognition for problem solving skills, individual learning and the learning of others. Confidence in working on new areas/technologies

Customers - speed, accuracy and consistency of answers

Organization - cost savings through operational efficiencies, increased customer loyalty


Contributor (KCS II)

All of the KCS Candidate competencies plus the following:

  • Consistently creates articles that do not require rework (based on performance in the environment)
  • Collective ownership "if you find it/use it, you own it".  It is critical that the users of the knowledge take responsibility for what they see and use in the knowledge base - If an article is unclear they should "fix it or flag it"
  • Article review processes in the workflow and random sampling
  • Concepts of findability and usability, criteria for a good article; key things to look for;

    Correct - words and phrases are in the right place (problem vs. environment)

    Concise - complete thoughts not complete sentences

    Clear - single thoughts not compound thoughts

  • Customer requirements are speed and accuracy
  • The balance of diversity and consistency: problems should be described in as many ways as customers will experience them, the environment should be described in a standard/consistent way.
  • Sensitivity to personal preferences and style differences vs. good statement structure and the quality requirements that support usability and findability ("sufficient to solve")
  • Don't over generalize - article should evolve through use and should be specific to the experience of solving a customer's problem. Generally, attempts should not be made to extend articles to cover all possible situations that might occur. Article extension should be based on demand. 
  • Ideally, there should be one article per problem. However, this is not an absolute and the criteria should be developed based on experience in the environment.  Some exceptions that need to be considered are:

    Context - two articles may exist for the same problem but are targeted at different audiences (novice vs. expert)

  • Articles that are reused are candidates for a larger audience; they should be moved closer to the customer.
  • It is important that not everyone be able to see everything that is in the knowledge base, visibility should be appropriate to the audience
  • Context - vocabulary and technical perspective/capability of different article audiences
  • Articles are created in the context of a specific audience
  • Balance between completeness and usability/brevity
  • Using numbered steps to describe a resolution process
  • Must be in the vocabulary and technical perspective/capability of the target audience (context)
  • Capturing the customer context, if not done during the conversation it will be lost.
  • Capturing the problem and some environment information in the workflow enables the "search early, search often" practice. This reduces the risk of spending time solving a problem that has already been solved.
  • The need for judgment in reviewing articles, customers will often provide information that has no relevance to the situation.
  • A certain level of redundancy and diversity in a knowledge practice is healthy. Redundancy becomes a problem only when it adversely affects the findability and usability of the content.
  • Examples of acceptable redundancy

    Articles for the same situation but for different target audiences

    Articles that capture wholly different experiences but have the same resolution

  • The content standard should describe the criteria for unwanted redundancy and as redundant articles are found they should be merged into one.  


    KCS Contributor - Range of Knowledge



    Article quality


    Improve, modify concepts


    Managing Article Visibility


    Concepts of context


    Fix/answer description format and context of the audience


    Capture in the workflow and Structured Problem Solving

    The value of capture in the workflow:


    Relevant vs. non-relevant statements


    Issues of redundancy




    All of the KCS Contributor competencies plus the following:

  • Partners
  • Customers


    KCS Publisher

    Range of Knowledge



    External audience(s)

    Understanding of the audience(s) for external content and their article quality and context requirements for each external audience: 



    All of the KCS Publisher competencies plus the following:

  • KCS practices expert
  • Change Analyst

    Support and encourage learning the KCS practices

    Provide constructive feedback on work habits and articles created

    Participate with other Coaches and the Knowledge Domain Experts on developing improvements to the workflow, the content standard and lifecycle, and identifying requirements for the infrastructure (tools/technology)

  • Monitor leading indicators (activities) for individuals - article creation, reuse and modify rates
  • Goal of the Coach - move people along the KCS path to become KCS II so that they can consistently create articles that do not need review or rework
  • Fundamental principles of motivation for people - the 2 top motivators for people are a sense of achievement and recognition
  • Respect for the Support Analyst and the learning process
  • Mindful of the feelings of the Support Analysts
  • The power and benefit of collaboration - sharing what we each know gives us access to what we all know.
  • Articles are intended to capture the collective experience of the organization and ultimately the customer. 
  • An article has a lifecycle because at its inception it will only contain the question or issue that has been identified, it must be designated as a "work-in-progress" so its visibility is limited
  • Capturing everything in the knowledge base enables collaboration independent of space and time
  • The balance of speed and accuracy with article "beauty", articles only need to be "sufficient to solve" (to be found and useful)
  • The importance of the content standard
  • Good structure - complete thoughts not complete sentences, distinct thoughts
  • Article states and the link to visibility
  • Can model it and teach others how to do it.
  • Can't capture in the workflow
  • Don't have time to create articles
  • Dumbing down my job
  • Giving away my value
  • Topic

    Coach - Range of Knowledge



    Concept of a KCS Coach


    Influence skills


    Article lifecycle


    Article quality

    Criteria for reviewing article quality -


    Capture in the workflow


    Dealing with objections

    The top objections to KCS and the responses



    All of the KCS Publisher competencies plus the following:

  • Redundancy or overlap of content
  • Content gaps
  • Overall article quality
  • Article reuse
  • Article evolution/cycle time

    Health and continuous improvement of the KCS process and practices within the organization

  • New vs. Known analysis
  • Identify articles with high reuse and initiate action to remove the source/cause of the issue
  • Interacts with and provides actionable information to product/application development based on article reuse
  • In conjunction with the Coaches seeks to improve the KCS processes and content standards
  • Role and need for a global KCS Council
  • Accessible and responsive to suggestions from KCS I, KCS II and Coaches on improvements to the content standard and processes
  • Define the power and risk associated with creating synonyms in the search facility
  • Define who should have visibility to what


    Knowledge Domain Expert

    Range of Knowledge



    Role of the Knowledge Domain Expert

    Health and continuous improvement of the knowledge base or a collection of articles in the knowledge base


    Concept of a collection or domain of articles

    Articles associated with a technology or group of products that have the potential to be related to one another.


    Pattern and trend recognition


    KCS process/standards improvement


    Synonym concepts


    Article visibility model



    Viewing 3 of 3 comments: view all
    A recent LinkedIn thread (https://www.linkedin.com/grp/post/2066490-6007642318872535042) makes me realize we don't have competencies for the KCS Program Manager. This would be good (and very useful) to add. I get questions about job descriptions for these folks all the time.
    Posted 12:16, 26 May 2015
    Great Point. Do you already have a list of competencies we can use as a starting point?
    Posted 16:09, 26 May 2015
    1. Should the Roles be changed to the following (aligning so some are not CAPS while others not and Contributor also starts with KCS)?:

    KCS Knowledge Domain Expert
    KCS Coach
    KCS Publisher (KCS III)
    KCS Contributor (KCS II)
    KCS Candidate (KCS I)

    2. KCS KNOWLEDGE appears to have a link but does not pull anything up.
    3. In KCS Knowledge Domain Expert, should it read:
    "Accessible and responsive to suggestions from KCS I, KCS II, KCS III and KCS Coaches..."
    Posted 17:14, 15 Jul 2015
    Viewing 3 of 3 comments: view all
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    Last modified
    11:53, 30 Apr 2013


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