The strategic framework is a simple yet powerful document that links the benefits of KCS to the goals of the organization. Sadly, many organizations don't pay enough attention to building and maintaining the strategic framework even though it only takes a small team an hour or two to develop. It is often passed over as "not that necessary." We cannot over-emphasize the value of creating one. It is a small investment with huge benefits. Having a strategic framework is helpful because it:
- forms the basis for the communication plan
- is a critical tool for gaining executive support
- can help sustain KCS focus across "executive turn over"
In this section, we will describe the framework and provide an example. Note that, while the document is important, equally important is the exercise of creating the strategic framework. The conversation and understanding that come from the process of creating the framework are extremely valuable for the KCS Council.
Link KCS Benefits to Organizational Goals
The strategic framework can improve the organization's engagement, helping people see the link between the KCS benefits and the organization's top level goals. These, in turn, cascade down to departmental objectives and justify the outcomes that team leaders use to build their balanced scorecards (see Performance Assessment for more information on balanced scorecards). This continuity in goals—from big picture to team to individual—is a key success factor in deploying KCS, maintaining progress, and promoting understanding and confidence across the organization.
The strategic framework is the foundation for a successful KCS adoption because it provides context for the key stakeholders: the organizational leaders, the employees, and the customers. The framework enables us to talk with executives on their terms by linking the KCS benefits to the top-level organizational objectives. When it comes to communication to team members and others, a strategic framework provides the central messaging document.
Here is an example of a strategic framework expressed in terms of the primary stakeholders (customer, the knowledge worker, and the company) and the specific contributions of the KCS program:
Here is how the process works. One of the most common organizational goals is customer loyalty. A big driver for this is the support experience and time to resolve (TTR). So, we need a support level metric in the customer loyalty section.
Leaders should select the measures and goals that link to customer success (the desired outcome), not activities. This is the same message that we deliver for individuals, but the metrics are implemented at a group or organizational level. Some good examples of higher-level metrics that are only measured at the group level include customer usage metrics about self-service access and success, as well as internal metrics like time to publish to self-service. If we measure the wrong things or fail to balance them well, we are likely to drive the wrong behaviors and wrong results.
Employee loyalty and engagement is another important factor. People management practices of employee loyalty surveys and measurements for turnover and attrition fit in here.
Operational efficiency of productivity is also a typical goal. We have noted the KCS factors that influence costs and contribute to profitability. However, pure cost reduction is a going-out-of-business strategy. The discussion should be about increased capacity and identifying ways to increase revenue, instead of cost reduction. (See the ROI section that follows for more detail.)
In considering organizational goals and the right outcomes to emphasize, we need to consider all the support paths we provide. Can customers use their choices of assisted support, self-help, and community-based support? How will KCS enable or impact these different paths? Which metrics can we capture? How can KCS reduce requirements for expensive channels (telephone, email) and increase use of inexpensive channels like self-service or communities? It may help to think about what we measure today. What percentage of our audience uses self-service first, and what is their success rate with that? Baseline measures for these kinds of things allow us to forecast the benefits and assess our progress.
Keeping in mind our organization's objectives, here are KCS-oriented measures to consider:
Process and knowledge health:
- Link rate (%)
- Article create vs reuse ratio (%)
- Size of the knowledge base (total number of KCS articles)
- Articles visible through self-service (% of total visible externally)
- Knowledge base maturity (calculated percentage)
- New vs known ratio (%)
- Average time to relief/resolution for known problems
- Average time to relief/resolution for new problems
Since the goal of KCS is to increase and leverage the value of the knowledge, this concept has many potential metrics:
Customer Loyalty Drivers:
- Average time from request resolved to publish article (to customers, in minutes)
- Percentage of customer-consumable KCS articles visible to customers
- Percentage of customer success on the web (survey data)
Cost Management Drivers:
- Percentage of new vs. known issues being reported to the support center (assisted model) (manager's goal—focus resources on solving new problems, not known problems, drive down costs)
- Percentage of customers who use the web first (survey data)
- Percentage of customer success on the web (survey data)
- Number of product improvements recommended to development/engineering
- Percentage of product improvements accepted
- Number of document improvements recommended to publications group
- Percentage of document improvements accepted by publications group
In this document, we are focusing on the KCS-relevant metrics. They do not replace existing management metrics, but should be integrated into them.
In many organizations, there is tension between the goals of customer loyalty and operational efficiency. Improvements in one can starve the other. Typically, executives set goals for profitability and customer loyalty, but leave teams to determine implementation goals. Unlike traditional approaches to efficiency that can jeopardize customer satisfaction and loyalty, KCS demands a good strategic framework that reflects a healthy balance of these two goals. In fact, by implementing KCS to improve knowledge sharing, improvements such as self-service, proactive notification, and "treating known as known" can help organizations achieve both goals simultaneously.
For more information about measures in a KCS environment please see the Measurement Matters paper.