The knowledge circle – an implementation

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This blog will try to show you some aspects of an implementation of knowledge management (KM) at company XYZ. You will not find a lot of technical details. This blog describes the process, a part of an on-going implementation.

The goal of KM is to (re) use the knowledge generated within the service management processes for the benefit of efficient and high quality services.

  • Agree on strategy and targets
  • Make people responsible (ownership)
  • Integrate knowledge activities into operational work (my work)
  • Keep the knowledge articles up-to-date
  • Monitor usage and improve the quality of knowledge articles

The above topics will be described in the following paragraphs. At the end of this blog you can find the outstanding issues. These topics will be implemented after the first pilot period.

On the wiki of service-now you can find more content about knowledge management.

Agree on targets and strategy

The knowledge manager continuously aligns the demand for knowledge base (KB) articles and the ‘production’ of KB articles. He creates and maintains a knowledge management plan in which he defines strategy and sets targets for metrics.

Service-now will be configured to support the measuring and reporting of those metrics.
Some of the most important metrics are:

  • Count of articles linked to incidents and other tickets
  • Article use and view counters
  • Number of submissions and articles created and reviewed

Service-now will provide the knowledge manager with his main tools: gauges, reports and dashboard. He will base his trend analysis based on information presented life from Service-now.

Make people responsible (ownership)

Each KB article must have an owner who is responsible for his articles.
As a rule, the owner is determined by the process that generated the article (through a submission).
For instance, if an article is created from a problem, then the problem manager is the owner of that article.

Not all articles originate in a process though. Ownership of those articles lies with the product- or service owner.

Basic concept:
A submission is a type of task that is used to write the KB article text proposal and categorisation.
It also drives the workflow and approval mechanism.
After approval of the submission, the KB article is created (or updated).
The submission is then closed.

For the pilot period we created 4 knowledge specific roles, each with specific tasks.

Service-now is configured with the right permissions and menus to support those tasks:

  • Knowledge owner – responsible for a set of articles in the KB
  • Knowledge analyst – writes the technical content of draft articles
  • Knowledge publisher – approves draft articles for final publication
  • Knowledge manager – manages KM performance and targets
  • (Knowledge admin – administrator role for knowledge management)

Table 1 shows the permissions that were given to each role.
All users will, by default, at least have the knowledge analyst role.

Table 1

Table 2 describes the menu options in the knowledge base application menu for each role. The users that have roles knowledge owner or knowledge manager have some more menu options to support their specific activities.

Table 2

Integrate knowledge activities into operational work (my work)

The implementation of service-now at company XYZ utilises tasks to distribute work across assignment groups for incidents, problems changes and so on.
Similarly, submissions are fully integrated in ‘My work’ and ‘My group’s work’ in the same way as other task.

Figure 1

Figure 1 shows the lifecycle of a knowledge article.

  • The first step is to create a new submission from within a problem ticket using the ‘Post KB Submission’ button.
    For example when he/she wants to publish the solution found during his/her work on the problem in the Knowledge Base for re-use.
    A submission can be initiated by anyone who worked on the ticket or task.

    Note: the ‘Post KB Submission’ button is out-of -the-box only used within problem management. For Company XYZ the button is made available to all operational processes (incident, change and request fulfilment).

  • After the new submission is created, the problem manager (the owner) accepts or rejects the submission.
    For example when there is already an article about that specific topic.
    After accepting the submission, the problem manager assigns it to an assignment group relevant for the topic.
    A specialist in the assignment group will then write the solution text. When he is done, he requests approval of the publisher.
  • After approval by the publisher role the KB article is finally created and instantly available for all service-now users.
    Using the search KB button (the little book) next to the short description field, will display relevant knowledge article which now can be used to resolve the incident.

    Note: for company XYZ we have created a mechanism which automatically closes the submission and creates an article after the publisher approves the submission.

Keep the KB articles up-to-date

It is the owner’s responsibility to keep his set of knowledge articles complete and up-to-date.
If an article needs to be reviewed, a submission must always be used.
The submission ensures that the workflow is followed, allows for assigning the task to a subject matter expert,
and ensures that approval is requested from the publisher.

Note: for company XYZ we have disabled the possibility to edit and save KB articles on the fly. Instead, a new submission can be created if an article needs to be reviewed.

To ensure that each article is reviewed periodically, we’ve created a mechanism that will automatically create a new submission and assign it to the owner (in this example the problem manager) when the ‘Valid To’ date has passed.

It automatically copies the whole content of the article into the submission.
Now, the same workflow applies as when creating an article for the first time.
If the Publisher approves the new submission then the original article will be overwritten with the new text.

In the history of the article retains the differences between the old and the new versions.


Monitor usage and improve the quality of knowledge articles

There are two process roles involved in measuring and improving the quality of KB articles.

The knowledge owner is responsible for the quality of his set of KB articles. He uses the Knowledge Centred Support (KCS) application modules: Feedback, Ratings, Search log and flagged articles. He can review the feedback that is received on his/her articles and decide to review or retire articles.

The knowledge manager can also measure and improve the contribution of departments and individuals to knowledge management. One example is whether the agreed time frames (OLA’s) are met.

To get an overview of the lead times during the submission workflow we created an OLA mechanism, see the figure below.

Future releases

For company XYZ, we now have configured basic functionality in a first release. A number of requirements still need to be developed into a second release.
This final paragraph gives a view on the second release. Besides new functionality we expect some rework from the first release as the basic functionality is currently being evaluated.

Motto for this first implementation phase was: deliver a workable foundation that supports basic integrated workflow, approval, and publication, and configure the process roles.

Here is a list of functions that will be part of the second release. This will enable company XYZ to make more use of Service-now potential:

  • Self Service Portal
  • Multi Language support
  • Generic/product related KB articles
  • E-mail notifications
  • Advanced feedback processing
  • News scroller
  • Dashboards and reports
  • Advanced searching
  • Next step in ownership
  • Next step in categorization

Please let me know if you have any questions.
You can contact me by mail

One Response to “The knowledge circle – an implementation”

  1. Wilco Cornelisse Says:

    Great blog, Peter!

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