Most support organizations have resources related to knowledge management: webmaster, KB administrator, and content manager among others. They are the ingredients of a well managed program, not the recipe for success. Ask yourself a few simple questions to expose where you may need to improve:
- Who OWNS all the content on internal and external knowledge bases?
- Who UPDATES all that content? (Not necessarily the same!)
- What is the process for communicating new product information forward to support, both prior to major launches and during the ongoing support life cycle?
- Who owns the schema (metadata, keywords, etc.) for all content? Is there someone responsible that it all fits together when it hits the search and browse websites?
- Who ensures all the content available is relevant, up to date, and consumable?
- What is the agreed-upon mechanism for resolving conflicts between new and old content?
If the answer to any of these is “no”, “I’m not sure” or “we figure that out on a case by case basis” then you’re probably spending too much time managing your KM initiative without really managing your program! Count up the number of meetings, disconnects, customization and one-off projects you need to keep things in line. You will see that coordinating content, schema and tools REQUIRES time even if your organization chooses to manage these areas as separate functions. The results of not managing your program are at best incremental, time-consuming improvements, at worst a continual stream of errors, adjustments and just plain bad user experience for your sites.
Developing an effective KM Program starts by thinking about the WHOLE objective: a great user experience, driven by an intuitive UI, effective user interactions, and quality content. With that as your guiding goal, consider organizing around the core processes, including:
- Identifying, prioritizing and normalizing content from across the organization to a common, high-quality user experience
- Managing policies and communications from the ‘front’ (websites & tools) to the ‘back’ (product and content groups), and all constituents in between, to achieve a common set of rules and standards around how information is developed and organized.
- Establishing a Steering Committee or Center of Excellence that can serve as a clearinghouse for all ongoing questions and issues around content ownership, commitments, policy and deadlines
- Developing a ‘product life cycle’ view of information, that engages everyone from products, support, and IT to commit to a common process for evolving KM tools and capabilities
A KM Program is not a ‘nice to have’ – you have one already, the question is: do you know it? And if you don’t, what is it costing your business in time, effort, money and customers? There IS a better way, just commit to KM as a critical business process and the approach becomes clear.
Are you committed?