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Consortium for Service Innovation

Technique 8.2: Create a Strategic Framework

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 practices and benefits to 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 the big picture to the team to an individual is critical. The ability of the knowledge worker to see the link between their goals and the organization's is a key success factor in deploying KCS, sustaining the benefits, 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 three primary stakeholders: the requestors (customers), the knowledge workers and the organization. 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 communicating with 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 (requestor, knowledge worker, and the organization) and the specific contributions of the KCS program:

Sample Strategic Framework

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 requestor loyalty section.

Leaders should select the measures and goals that link to requestor 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 metrics about requestor's frequency of use and success with self-service, 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.

Knowledge worker loyalty and engagement is another important factor. The usual practices of employee loyalty, buy-in and job satisfaction surveys, as well as measures for turnover and attrition, fit in here.

The operational efficiency, productivity, and capacity are also typical goals. 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 our requestors use, like assisted support, self-service, 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 (assisted) and increase the use of inexpensive channels like self-service or communities? Most organizations will need to expand the scope of their measurement model and add measures for things like the percentage of our requestors who use 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:

Requestor Loyalty Drivers:

  • Average time from request resolved to publish an article (to the requestor audiance, in minutes)
  • Percentage of requestor-consumable KCS articles visible to customers
  • Percentage of requestor 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 requestors who use the web first (survey data)
  • Percentage of requestor success on the web (survey data)
  • Number of product, policy or process improvements recommended to the respective owners
  • Percentage of improvements accepted

In this document, we are focusing on the KCS-relevant metrics. They do not replace existing management metrics, but should be integrated into them.

Maintaining Balance

In many organizations, there is tension between the goals of requestor loyalty and operational efficiency. Improvements in one can starve the other. Typically, executives set goals for profitability and 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. 

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