Thursday, January 04, 2007

Knowledge Base Insights

In the article Build a knowledge base that streamlines your support operations, Jeff Dray writes:

"We didn't have anything remotely resembling a real knowledge base until our team was joined by a chap called Lenny, who had a habit of writing absolutely every piece of information he acquired in a large ring binder. There was a big section covering each of the applications we supported, where to find serial numbers on all kinds of kit, descriptions of how it was all supposed to work, names of people who worked on the various systems... You name it, he wrote it down. The information wasn't restricted to technical matters, fixes for problems, or how-to's, either. He also wrote down names and phone numbers of any contact, whether it be the pizza delivery service, the local massage parlour, car servicing, sandwich shop, or a cheap lawyer...

...If your organization is large enough to warrant it, the management of the knowledge base should be in the hands of a dedicated person. This has many benefits, including allowing time to process new articles and properly retire old articles that are no longer relevant. It also gives an independent eye to the work, so that if the meaning of an article is not fully clear (and let's face it, not all help desk techs are great writers), that person can clarify ambiguities and suggest better phrasing.

All through the process, it should be emphasised that a knowledge base article is not written in stone. It's a living document that must be allowed to evolve as knowledge is improved and as technology changes. When I was working in support, we used to achieve bonuses by writing new articles, but there was no reward for updating anything. Consequently, the temptation was to create new articles that sometimes contradicted pre-existing ones. Had credit been offered for significant changes to existing work, I believe that the database would have been more efficient..."

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