‘If it is IT Service Management, it’s not strategic’
Continuing our series of reviews of our previous podcasts, highlighting the nuggets of brilliant advice and information they contain.
This was a quote from the discussion with Aprill Enright-Allen, addressing the feathery world of Knowledge Management.
Mention the name of Aprill to anyone who has been in the industry for a while, and the name ‘Knowledge Bird’ with float, or should that be flutter, to the top.
Aprill has developed quite the portfolio to her career. Knowledge Bird is a boutique consulting business, where she specialises in knowledge management, and delivering knowledge-centred service training and consulting – mostly but not exclusively working with enterprise IT.
Since this episode the world has been swamped with AI and ChatGPT as the next ‘big things’. This – and other tools and models – are highly useful in the Knowledge Management area. Care must be taken in how these are used and the advice discussed here is highly – dare we say even more – relevant and vital..
What is Knowledge Management?
“It’s very broad and described in multiple ways, and it’s very hard to create a definition that everybody will relate to.”
“It ends up doing a bunch of unrelated different things and it seems to fall lower and lower down the rung of importance.”
Within service management, the temptation is to refer to the myriad of guidelines and best practice and at the core of that has been knowledge centred support (KCS).
“It is a methodology whereby knowledge is produced as a by-product of problem-solving”.
“Traditionally, people take an approach to a centralised knowledge base where they constrain the creation of knowledge to one or two trusted people.
“KCS opens up the capture and reuse of knowledge to the whole team of people who are the ones on the phones talking to your customers, and so they have the customer context, and capture the problem in the words that the customer is using.”
Despite that definition, knowledge management has proved to be a nebulous concept to many companies for so long – they might not realise they are practicing some form of knowledge management anyway.
Aprill explains: “The fact is that we can’t do these digital transformations without knowledge underpinning it. Thankfully, due to automation, some of the platform vendors are committing to KCS and they’re talking about it explicitly in their guidance.
“And since then, people like organisations who buy into those platforms have now got an awareness of KCS even though they don’t have the understanding yet.”
Why can’t we just Google it all?
Take the example of a chatbot. Organisations want to automate the most regularly asked questions – which requires the responses to be scripted, but it requires the content to exist for it to work.
“We need to have been the knowledge behaviours in place so that we’re getting a better understanding of the patents and trends of reuse.”
“There might be some pervasive, annoying issue that happens when a user is trying to do something, but it’s not enough for them to open a ticket or make a phone call. So they just deal with it, or they will try self-service.
“If you get enough people using self-service and typing in a key phrase for this annoying issue, and you’re paying attention to that, that’s when you go, ‘ah, we need to either fix that thing, or we need to create a little bit of user education around that.’
“You have to have the behaviours going on underneath to be able to serve the automation.”
Behaviours and buy-in
The behaviours are just one part of the puzzle.
“You have to have strong leadership to set the expectation of team ownership of the health of our centralised knowledge base so that when anybody is answering a question with an existing knowledge article, but they check it, then and there, they flag it if they need to, if it needs to be fixed, or they fix it, if they have the permissions to fix it.
“It’s not about the tool, it’s about the way we get our job done. And we’re using and improving knowledge is how we do that.”
The customer journey
Using a real-life example, Aprill set out some of the key points in trying to lift the gaze from it just being an IT issue, to a wider organisational focus.
Teams were gathered together to facilitate a ‘customer’ journey – internal, in this case.
They mapped out what it looks like when people are doing their job.
They round teams take ownership when it comes to looking for pieces of the puzzle, and solving those gaps, which helps them become more engaged.
Look at the strategic objectives of the organisation: What is the CEO expecting us to achieve and understand that the knowledge that moves around the organisation is a valuable asset – so treat it as such. If it is IT Service Management, it is not strategic.
Its important t recognise of course that Service Management should fit with the strategic vision, not that its not part of it – its central, but it needs to fit with a big picture…
Look at your measures because often organisations incentivise the wrong behaviours: Organisations measure on a transactional level but don’t encourage learning and collaboration.
The tool you use is not important: Some products are better than others an enabling KCS, but if you have the people doing the work contributing to the design of the work, then they will take ownership of it and will want to see it succeed.
Knowledge workers are knowledge creators, and knowledge users are not passive.
The Enterprise Digital Podcast is a regular discussion on all matters related to Enterprise Service Management and Digital Transformation. The hosts are Barclay Rae and Ian Aitchison, who share and discuss their thoughts on the converging worlds of technology, service management, people and management, business and corporate development, governance, automation and more… Regular guests will be invited to try and get a word in …