Technique 8.7: Communication is the Key describes the importance of a Communications plan for a successful KCS adoption. This generic list of FAQs can be used as a starting point for organizations who are building FAQs as part of their communications plan.
Q: How do I distinguish between two articles as to which is the correct one?
A: The KB does not replace people’s brains; it complements their brains. People have to be able to recognize a correct answer when they see it. A responder should never deliver/apply an article they do not know enough about. They must have some level of certainty that it fixes the problem.
Q: We don’t have time to document everything the customer says and everything we do to solve a customer’s problem. If we continue to run our business with the same workflows, structure for content, and recognition practices, we cannot add the capture of the information and the experience of the customer without adding more time per incident. The savings of re-using some articles will not offset the incremental time spent on every article. What is to be done?
A: It turns out that reusable articles can be created as a natural byproduct of solving a problem without adding incremental minutes to the problem solving processes. In order to accomplish this we must change how we do things. We must examine the workflow, content structure, and the recognition practices such that it facilities both the problem solving processes and the capture/structure processes. We have learned that focusing on a structured problem solving process and capture in the workflow can improve the problem solving time.
Q: When is it appropriate to create a new article rather than reuse an existing article?
A: The simple answer is: when the fix or answer does not exist in the knowledge base, a new article should be created. If the fix/answer is found in the knowledge base, then the existing article should be updated to include any new information or context that has become known because of solving the problem. Because of this experience, the article is improved or modified with additional information. There are some cases where multiple articles exist for the same fix. For example, two articles may exist but one is targeted at a highly technical user and the other is targeted at a novice user. These articles should be linked in the system so that the relationship between them is known. However, the link is visible only to those authorized to see it. Most often, the highly technical article will be for internal use only and is not visible to the novice audience. The content standard for the organization must address the criteria and mechanics of create versus reuse based on the capabilities of the technology being used.
Q: How do we get our knowledge workers to capture their knowledge in a database?
A: To encourage the knowledge workers to capture their knowledge we must consider the ways in which the organization values the individual. We must examine what creates heroes in our organization. If the individuals are valued for what they know and the knowledge they have, then they will not have an incentive to contribute to a knowledge base. If, on the other hand, individuals are valued for their ability to learn and to contribute to the learning of others, it creates an incentive to collaborate. If heroes are created based on their participation in a knowledge management practice, and if they are valued and recognized for their ability to solve problems and to contribute that knowledge to a knowledge base through capture and structure practices, then there is an incentive to contribute.
Q: How do we manage the quality of the knowledge? We do not have time or the resources to review all the articles we create.
A: The most efficient way to manage knowledge is through reuse. If everyone who interacts with the knowledge base accepts responsibility to contribute to the quality of the knowledge (flag it or fix it), then quality management becomes inherent in the system.
Q: How do we know which articles should be made available to others? If we create articles within one level of our support structure, how do we know which ones should be migrated out to other levels of our support structure?
A: By monitoring reuse of articles, we can identify which ones might have value to other parts of the organization. Frequently-referenced articles should be flagged and reviewed for relevance and context for other audiences.
Q: We are already doing knowledge management! We publish our knowledge in product documentation and on the web. We have tech writers who clean up the information and publish it. What is different about KCS?
A: KCS strives for new levels of efficiency and relevance in the creation of knowledge. KCS is a methodology that is focused on capture and structure of knowledge in the workflow and on the findability and usability of that knowledge by a target audience.
Q: Should we let people modify articles while we are still trying to solve the problem?
A: Incomplete articles lead to complete articles. Creating or framing an article and allowing others with the right privileges to modify them enables collaboration and collective problem solving independent of space and time. (People in different locations and time zones can help each other solve problems).
Q: At what point in the process do we start capturing information about the problem in the article?
A: The capture of information should start as early in the process as possible. Ultimately, the capture process starts with the requestor. For example, if the requestor has done a search on the web site, the search information should be captured as part of the article.
Q: How should we recognize people for their use of the knowledge base? What is the one objective we should focus on?
A: The health of the knowledge management system is based on many factors. No one single indicator can be isolated.
Q: Why would I capture the customer’s opinion on what is happening when I know the way they are describing it is not correct? Doesn’t it contaminate the knowledge base?
A: The ability to classify words and phrases the customer uses about the problem enables us to capture the customer context and experience and distinguish it from the environment and fix information. This is critical for findability.