As the organization matures in its use of KCS, an important function evolves: Knowledge Domain Analysis. This critical function assures that issues are resolved effectively and efficiently. The knowledge workers doing this function, Knowledge Domain Experts (KDE) must have both deep subject matter expertise as well as a profound understanding of KCS. KDEs look after the health of a collection or domain of knowledge, usually a subset of the knowledge base that aligns with their expertise. To help maximize the benefits of KCS, Knowledge Domain Analysis focuses the knowledge base and pays attention to the quality of the articles, the effectiveness of the workflow that produces and improves the articles and, perhaps most importantly, the use of the articles. The KDE seeks to optimize the creation, improvement, and use of articles as well as identify patterns and trends of reuse to identify potential product, process, or policy changes that could eliminate the root cause of the most frequent issues. Based on the analysis, the KDEs work with Coaches and the KCS Council to improve the content standard and the KCS workflow. Success of the Knowledge Domain Analysis function is measured through improvements in findability, self-service use, and success rates and incident volume reduction that is a result of corrective actions taken to eliminate the cause of pervasive issues.
Most organizations have multiple knowledge domains. Knowledge domains are virtual collections of KCS articles that are related to a common topic, function, process, technology, or product family. Knowledge domains are not precise or absolute in their boundaries; they often overlap. A knowledge domain is the collection of content that makes sense to include for pattern recognition and cluster analysis. Therefore, the purpose or intent of the analysis defines the collection of articles that are relevant.
For each domain, one or more subject matter experts emerge as the Knowledge Domain Experts (KDE) who do the Knowledge Domain Analysis. They have enthusiasm for and curiosity about the topic or function. They are typically subject matter experts who continue to have other functional responsibilities: the KDE is not a full-time role. KDEs are the people who are naturally attracted to using data analytics to figure out what we can learn from this collection of knowledge. They must be capable of establishing a relationship with the business functions that need to take corrective actions. Depending on the domain, this may be the owners of business policy or processes and/or the owners of the product or services functionality and road maps. The goal is to provide the functional owner with quantifiable, actionable information that is based on the users experience. Because of the cross-functional collaboration, the Knowledge Domain Analysis is most effective with cross-organizational participation.
Knowledge Domain Analysis outputs include the identification of :
Improvements to the content standard and process integration (workflow)
Findability issues: knowledge exists but is not being found - search performance and optimization
Content gaps: knowledge people are looking for that does not exist
Content overlaps: consolidating duplicate articles, identifying the best or preferred resolution among many proposed resolutions
Improvements in how we leverage known issues, eliminating re-work, improving access and findability
Improvements in how we solve new issues, suggestions for problem solving and collaboration to solve new issues quickly
Pervasive issues: facilitating root cause analysis and working with business owners on high impact improvements
Value of the knowledge base, such as article reuse rates, self-service success, and contribution in improving time to resolve
Archiving strategy for the knowledge base
Earlier we discussed the complementary elements of a double loop process: the Solve Loop and the Evolve Loop. Each loop generates knowledge. To recap, Solve Loop articles are created and improved by knowledge workers while they are working on issues. It is very difficult to assess the potential future value of the knowledge created in the moment of interaction. If a question is worth answering or a problem is worth solving, it is worth capturing in the knowledge base. Other peoples' use of that knowledge will define its value. If it is reused it will contribute to the patterns or clusters that emerge in the knowledge domain analysis.
Solve Loop articles are developed just-in-time based on demand. Evolve Loop articles are created as a result of the Knowledge Domain Analysis process based on the patterns and trends that emerge over time. Evolve Loop articles are high-value content because they are derived from the patterns of use, the clustering of KCS articles around a common theme or issue, and critical processes and procedures. While high-value, Evolve Loop articles generally represent a very small percentage of the total knowledge base.
The usage and pattern analysis performed in the Evolve Loop also identifies product quality and serviceability improvements. By analyzing the root causes and aggregating symptom and usage frequency data, compelling data can drive product or documentation changes based on the actual customer experience.
Some examples of Evolve Loop content include:
Procedural or diagnostic articles or step-by-step processes (how to do a specific thing)
Resolution paths—a collection of linked procedural articles that defines a complex process (procedural or diagnostic)—created by Knowledge Domain Experts to address generic or high level symptoms, especially ones that are addressed in an unwieldy number of Solve Loop KCS articles
High impact issues - ones that are pervasive or cause outages or articles about new or strategic processes, policies, products or services
KCS articles created to fill knowledge gaps: articles on topics or issues users are looking for that does not exist. Typically identified through self-service and search analytics.
The new vs. known analysis is another example of the continuous improvement processes in the Evolve Loop. The new vs. known process can help assess the health and effectiveness of an organization’s KCS practices. This is an example of the kind of process to be done as Knowledge Domain Analysis.
The goal of KCS is to capture and reuse the knowledge gained through interactions – solve it once, use it often.
Ideally, we would like to use our knowledge to solve new requests, not known issues. As an organization adopts KCS and integrates use of the knowledge base into the interaction process, we see the internal reuse of knowledge increase and we can establish a baseline for the new vs. known ratio. As we start to deliver knowledge through a self-service model, external reuse increases and internal reuse should decrease; we are solving known issues through self-service. Understanding the ratio of new vs. known request becomes an indicator of the health of the knowledge flow and the effectiveness of the self-service model.
Identify opportunities to reduce the resources spent on known issues and accelerate the resolution of new issues.
By looking at incidents closed from the perspective of new vs. known and analyzing incidents in each category we can identify:
The scope of the analysis should include the following:
The new vs. known study is something that should be done periodically over the course of a year, probably not more than once a quarter.
The study is done by product area or product family; it is a sampling technique. It is recommended that you do a pilot with two or three product areas to get a feel for the process. For the pilot, it is ideal to have the group of SMEs together in a conference room for a day. This allows you to discuss and resolve points of confusion quickly. Follow on analysis can be coordinated via conference calls.
(Columns in the sample spreadsheet on the KCS Academy Resources page):
Primary fields (relevant to most organizations and important to the analysis):
Relevant incident? - no or blank
Incident has an article linked- yes or no?
Pre-existing article or document linked to incident (known) - yes or no?
Known but not captured (optional) – yes or blank
Correct article or document linked to incident – yes or no?
No article linked but one existed – yes or blank
Article linked is “internal use only”– yes or blank
Correct article was visible to customer – yes, no, or blank
External article or document – yes or blank
Secondary fields (may not be relevant to all organizations and not critical to the objectives of the analysis):
Required problem recreation
Required problem recreation by the customer
Required collaboration with others
Multi-vendor (MV) information/documentation required
Multi-vendor (MV) contact required
Hardware, field dispatch required
Hardware, parts ordered
What it took to fix:
Another type of Evolve Loop content is articles that fill content gaps in the self-service model. Use of self-service introduces some interesting dynamics:
Requestors will use a good web site to resolve issues they would not have called about. The demand for help is far greater than the number of requests that come into assisted support (the support center or service desk).
When requestors use self-service, there are issues they will not be able to solve. However, they will not always take the time to pursue an answer through the assisted channel.
Unsolved issues represent gaps in the knowledge base (an article does not exist) or findability issues (an article exists but the requestor could not find it)
Part of the Knowledge Domain Analysis is to identify content gaps on the web through web analytics that captures search strings. Whenever possible, we want to create articles that resolve requestor issues that were pursued on the web and not resolved. We could also refine existing articles based on how the requestor was searching for the answer—this improves the findability.
The Evolve Loop content processes are critical for continuous learning, innovation, and improvement. They leverage the Solve Loop content, create incremental value for the organization, and help to elevate awareness and sensitivity to the requestor or customer experience in the organization.