Service Management 

Making knowledge management wiser

The Google machine is driving the help desk into irrelevance. Will better knowledge management reverse this?

Recently I had the opportunity to visit with multiple service management organizations and actually sit down with the service desk teams who take calls on a daily basis.  I had a front row seat as they answered calls and heard from users who needed help with the usual password resets, application issues and even configuring a wireless device or two.

Now these calls are typical for any service management team and part of what all service desks need to do and do well.  Structurally, service management organizations are usually split into functional teams focused on the service desk, major incidents, problem management and change management. This allows the individual functions to develop specific skills and focus on their area of accountability in an attempt to focus on the core team objective – business services.

Can you chat?

What was especially interesting about spending time on the service desk was the manner in which calls are dealt with. Service management pros have spent years attempting to deflect calls but the reality is that based on the call type, the urgency and the impact, the delivery of the call can be different – whether it’s chat, email or voice.

For instance I personally like to interact with the support team over instant messenger in a free form format for most inquiries. Often these are what I call basic knowledge requests where I don’t quite know the right question to ask.  These interactions are often rapid and quickly resolved. Where I have a major incident, I have no issue searching a knowledge base looking for the correct answer and then logging an incident should I not be able to find it. Finally, if I have a major issue with a critical system and need immediate support, I call the desk.

Thinking about incidents, we all know that password resets continue to be a major source of calls – even with the tools and self-help mechanisms that we have put in place to reduce their numbers. We also know that when we implement a major system change there are often a large number of calls to the desk. Additionally there continues to be a growing number of calls to the desk for requests for information, or even basic usability questions, which is an area we believed would be solved with knowledge management.

Mimicking the Google Machine

So after years of discussing and implementing knowledge management, I think we all agree that the traditional format for knowledge is currently ineffective and needs reform, especially with the growing acceptance of social media and people who can successfully “Google” most anything.

Knowledge management is a process that many organizations have been claiming to deliver for years, but few identify their implementation and use cases a success. Traditional knowledge management involves the creation and curating of knowledge into a consumable and useable form. But for too many this content exists in a repository of documents that are written in language that only analysts can understand or search through – and therefore it’s rarely put to use.

Delivering on the promise of self-help

Ideally, we need knowledge to be served in multiple forms, including knowledge for analysts that is deep and procedural. But separately, we also need a more interactive and searchable version of knowledge that can be easily consumed by the user community. Only then will we deliver on the real promise of end-user self-help.

The value of usable and consumable knowledge is significant to the service desk team and end users alike.  For the end user, especially those who are digital natives, it allows them to consume knowledge and self-triage where possible. And for the service desk itself, not only does it support call deflection, but for those incidents that do hit the desk, it arms staff members with the right knowledge and empowers them to execute.

It’s a true win-win situation.

Remember that knowledge is power. And shared knowledge builds wisdom.


Robert Stroud is VP of innovation and strategy for IT Business Management at CA Technologies.…

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