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Testimonial: I have found that the new HDAA Knowledge Base reduces the time it takes me to research industry stats & reliable information for the ITSM sector. It’s easy to use search functionality encompassing KCS principles, helps to filter & tailor my searches more accurately & there are numerous new services now available through the website. Every time I return to the site there is new information published. Very impressive.
Chris Powderly, Support & Services Manager, Allens
supportworld , metrics and measurements , KCS , knowledge management
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You have accepted the challenge to improve your knowledge management initiative. But before you charge in with your ideas and lay out your plan, assess the current state. Talk with the various stakeholders. Learn from them what they think is working well, what is not, and what ideas they have that will help you with your mission. Read the strategic plans and process documentation. These can help define the current objectives and expected results. And evaluate the current set of metrics and measurements. Discover the current gap between how the organization is performing today versus the desired level of performance or your vision for the organization. Then ask yourself, “Am I looking at the right metrics?” It is possible that the organization’s metrics are ticket focused and were not updated with a knowledge perspective. What metrics and measurements do you need?
The answer to this question is “It depends.” It depends on the maturity of your knowledge management adoption. Are you focusing on creating the knowledge sharing culture and getting people to capture, improve, and reuse knowledge? Are you focusing on assisted service only? Or has the organization implemented self-service and you need to improve self-service success? It depends on the extent to which knowledge is being integrated into other service management processes beyond incident management and request fulfillment. How has knowledge impacted service level management, problem management, change management, and release and deployment management? And it depends on the business objectives. What was the business justification for investing in knowledge management?
There is no single metric that can represent the health of your knowledge management initiative. You will need to monitor and trend multiple metrics. Some metrics should have targeted goals. These are the lagging indicators or results. The leading indicators, or activities, are the metrics that can be used to predict changes to future results and allow you to make timely adjustments. All must be monitored and trended for expected and unexpected changes. It is the collection of the right metrics that can represent the health of your knowledge management initiative.
The reason you have been asked to improve the knowledge management initiative is to improve the business. Your primary objective is not to improve the quality of knowledge. Before you begin to focus on improving the knowledge processes and practices, you need to know why. Why is knowledge important to the business? When you first answer that question, ask why again and again and again until the answer ties to the business objectives. For example, when asked why you want to improve knowledge management, the answer given might be to improve knowledge sharing. You need to ask why again.
This technique is known as the Five Whys. But it is not limited to five and may not require you to ask why five times. The key is to explore the root cause or purpose of your objective.
Other stories might include:
Once you know your stories, then you have begun to identify several metrics that are important for you to measure and report on to your stakeholders.
Most knowledge management initiatives begin by focusing on improving assisted service. This is where knowledge is captured, improved, and reused within service management processes like incident management. Support professionals use existing knowledge to resolve incidents that are known to the organization, where known implies that the organization has previously resolved the incident and captured the issue and resolution as a knowledge asset. If the incident is unknown, then the support professionals must work to develop a resolution. Once they resolve the incident for the customer, they need to capture the new knowledge as a knowledge article for future reuse.
The most common metrics organizations will implement for monitoring the knowledge process are:
These metrics measure activities related to knowledge. It is a start, but it is not good enough. Focusing on the quantity of knowledge articles can result in garbage in the knowledge base and linking for the sake of linking resulting in bad data. Activity metrics need to be complemented with quality metrics from the quality assurance processes.
If you’re implementing the Knowledge Centered Service (KCS) methodology, then you can evaluate the competency profile. Those metrics define the percent of staff that have earned the different competency levels or roles: Candidate, Contributor, and Publisher.
The combination of activity metrics and quality metrics can be used to monitor individual performance and team performance. When trended and monitored along with the business impact metrics, a correlation can then be identified to show the value of adopting a knowledge sharing culture.
When your organization begins offering customers direct access to knowledge, new metrics are needed. Some of these will be self-service metrics while others relate to assisted service. The following assisted service metrics are important to monitor.
Measuring self-service success is not as easy as assisted service. Assisted service focus on metrics related to tickets, which is the sum of all work if your organization logs all requests for assistance as tickets. Tickets are managed and closed, and easily counted. Success and failure is known and can be analyzed.
In self-service, customers may or may not log in to access the knowledge base. They most likely are accessing through a browser, and them closing a browser is not an indication of success or failure. Research has shown that a very small percentage of customers will complete a survey after reading a knowledge article. If they find knowledge that is helpful, they close the browser or navigate away from the page. Given this type of environment, what metrics can help evaluate the success of self-service?
Another indication of self-service success is the impact on assisted service. The correlation can be a result of causation if the primary changes in the environment relate to self-service availability and promotion.
Implementing a self-service knowledge base can have tremendous value for customers and the organization. Unfortunately, there are no metrics that directly and accurately measure this value.
The value of knowledge is not limited to assisted service and self-service. The knowledge about the knowledge articles improves as the knowledge sharing culture matures and the link rate increases. Problems can be detected leading to product and service improvements by evaluating the reuse of knowledge articles. The number of problems detected and reported to problem management is a new metric related to proactive problem management.
The list of metrics shared here is not meant to be exclusive. It is meant to serve as a starting point. You need to be measuring and trending the right metrics to determine how to improve your knowledge management initiative. These metrics can indicate where further investigation and improvements are needed as well as where there is evidence of success that can be celebrated and expanded.
Rick Joslin has more than 30 years of information technology experience. He has led software development teams and technical support organizations and has provided consulting services to several organizations. Rick has more than 20 years of experience in knowledge management and is recognized internationally as an expert in KCS. Rick holds a BS in computer science and multiple certifications from HDI, the KCS Academy, and AXELOS. He served as HDI’s Executive Director of Certification and Training for 10 years and is currently a 2018 Featured Contributor for HDI. Connect with Rick on LinkedIn.
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