At the completion of Wave I the KCS Council, working with the IT Liaison, should conduct a detailed evaluation of the knowledge management system, and the integration with other tools being used. Functional specifications should be developed for improvements in functionality and integration that will support the workflow and the content standard. The improvements should be deployed after Wave I and prior to engaging additional waves.
There are four important considerations in positioning the technology platform to successfully support KCS.
- Responsiveness - KCS requires that the system perform at, or near, the speed of conversation
- Functionality - All the functionality to support knowledge work is available on the market today
- Integration - Unfortunately, all the required functionality does not exist in a single, tightly integrated platform.
- User interface - Most vendors provide an application interface that is designed to highlight all the features and functionality of the product. What we need is a user interface that makes it easy for the knowledge worker to do the right thing.
As compute power and network capacity continues to increase, the issue of responsiveness has become less of a problem. It is, however, an important consideration. Integrating reuse, improvement, and creation of knowledge into the workflow requires a system that functions at or near the speed of conversation.
The KCS Verified Self-Assessment Worksheets provide a framework for functional specifications needed to support KCS success.
Most knowledge workers will have five to seven different systems that they use to get their work done. In the typical customer support environment there is the incident management system, knowledge management system, collaboration tools, and the systems of record for the customer's install base, instance, product or service portfolio. The integration of these systems to support the workflow is an important enabler and something that should be considered in the budgeting for platform.
The design criteria for the user interface should be based on the workflow and designed such that 80-90% of the knowledge workers' tasks can be done on a single screen. This also represents an investment. The two best examples we have seen of user interfaces focused on enabling knowledge work were developed in-house and sat on top of various applications. The knowledge worker seldom, if ever, interacted with the individual application interfaces. And, 80-90% of the work was done on a single screen.
The Enlightened Executive
The goal of these four technology considerations is to enable the knowledge worker to do the right thing with as little effort as possible. The dilemma for leadership is that the cost of doing these four things really well is painfully obvious, while the benefits of knowledge worker productivity and job satisfaction are not. People are always the shock absorber between what the organization wants them to do and the tools and platforms the organization provides to enable them to do it. If people understand the big picture and the benefits, they will do some pretty amazing things to compensate for the tool and platform deficiencies...for a while. It is hard to sustain or maximize the KCS benefits if people do not see continuous improvement in the functionality, integration, and user interface.
Enlightened executives will make the investment in the platform because they can see it is the right thing to do, even if the benefits are hard to immediately quantify.