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Consortium for Service Innovation

Appendix D: KCS Roles and Competencies

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 knowledge worker's experience, use of a knowledge base requires judgment and skill, and a knowledge worker 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 requestor, 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 (Validated)

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 "An article is complete when it is obsolete"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 requestor's experience in the workflow

Capturing the requestor's experience, in their terminology, is critical for future findability

Literal element of the structured problem solving process

Searching techniques

First capture requestor perspective and search using requestor 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

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

Requestors - speed, accuracy and consistency of answers

Organization - cost savings through operational efficiencies, increased customer loyalty


KCS Contributor (KCS II)

All of the KCS Candidate competencies plus the following:


KCS Contributor - Range of Knowledge


Article quality

  • 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 "flag it or fix 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
  • Requestor requirements are speed and accuracy

Improve, modify concepts

  • The balance of diversity and consistency: problems should be described in as many ways as requestors 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 requestor'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)

Managing Article Audience

  • Articles that are reused are candidates for a larger audience; they should be moved closer to the requestor.
  • It is important that not everyone be able to see everything that is in the knowledge base, visibility should be appropriate to the audience

Concepts of context

  • Context - vocabulary and technical perspective/capability of different article audiences
  • Articles are created in the context of a specific audience

Fix/answer description format and context of the 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)

Capture in the workflow and Structured Problem Solving

The value of capture in the workflow

  • 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.

Relevant vs. non-relevant statements

  • The need for judgment in reviewing articles, customers will often provide information that has no relevance to the situation.

Issues of redundancy

  • 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 Publisher (KCS III)

All of the KCS Contributor competencies plus the following:


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:

  • Partners
  • Customers


KCS Coach

All of the KCS Publisher competencies plus the following:


Coach - Range of Knowledge


Concept of a KCS Coach
  • 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

Influence skills

  • Fundamental principles of motivation for people - the two top motivators for people are a sense of achievement and recognition
  • Respect for the knowledge worker and the learning process
  • Mindful of the feelings of the knowledge workers
  • The power and benefit of collaboration - sharing what we each know gives us access to what we all know.
Article lifecycle
  • 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
Article quality

Criteria for reviewing article quality

  • 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 relationships between article audience, article confidence, and article governance
Capture in the workflow
  • Can model it and teach others how to do it.
Dealing with objections

The top objections to KCS and the responses:

  • Can't capture in the workflow
  • Don't have time to create articles
  • Dumbing down my job
  • Giving away my value


KCS Knowledge Domain Expert

All of the KCS Publisher competencies plus the following:


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

  • 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

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

  • 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

KCS process/standards improvement

  • 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 Contributors, Publishers, and Coaches on improvements to the content standard and processes

Synonym concepts

  • Define the power and risk associated with creating synonyms in the search facility

Article audience model

  • Define who should have visibility to what
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