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Help Desk Knowledge Management

Importance of Help Desk Knowledge Management

In today's fast-paced business environment, effective knowledge management is crucial for the success of any help desk team, regardless of its size. Managing knowledge, however, can be a challenge, to say the least. Information gets outdated, employees come and go, and new problems arise as technology evolves.


It is essential to have a systematic approach to capture, organise, and share collective wisdom to ensure the best possible service and support for customers.


Benefits of Capturing and Sharing Team Wisdom

The benefits of capturing and sharing your team's wisdom should scream out to you, but to clarify, it can include;


Faster problem resolution.

With access to relevant knowledge, team members can quickly solve customer issues.

A woman using a laptop

Increased efficiency.

Documented procedures and best practices help standardise processes, reducing errors and increasing productivity.


Enhanced team collaboration.

A knowledge-sharing culture fosters collaboration, breaking down silos and promoting teamwork.


Improved customer satisfaction.

Consistently providing accurate and timely support leads to happier customers and a better reputation for your help desk. By publishing it to customers in certain circumstances, you can even help them to help themselves.


Employee growth and development.

Shared knowledge resources empower employees to learn and develop skills, increasing job satisfaction and retention.


Identifying Key Knowledge Areas

Types of Knowledge (Tacit and Explicit)

Before diving into capturing and sharing team knowledge, it's essential to understand the two main types: tacit and explicit knowledge.


Tacit knowledge

This knowledge is difficult to articulate, often gained through personal experience and practice. It includes problem-solving techniques, intuition, and insights that team members have developed. Tacit knowledge is often challenging to document but can be transferred through mentoring, on-the-job training, and storytelling.


Explicit knowledge

This knowledge, such as written procedures, guidelines, and troubleshooting manuals, can be easily expressed and documented. Explicit knowledge can be shared and stored in various formats like documents, videos, and databases.


Assessing Team Expertise and Knowledge Gaps

To determine which knowledge areas to focus on, start by assessing the current expertise of your team members and identifying knowledge gaps. This assessment can be done through:


Skill inventories

Create a list of essential skills and knowledge areas relevant to your help desk operations. Then, ask your team members to self-assess their expertise in these areas and identify gaps. Below is an example of such a matrix and a template if you wish to adapt it.

An IT skills matrix example

Performance reviews

Analyse past performance reviews and feedback to identify areas where team members may need additional knowledge or training.


Incident analysis

Review recent help desk tickets to identify recurring issues, areas of difficulty, or cases that took longer to resolve. These areas may indicate gaps in team knowledge.


Prioritising Knowledge Areas for Capture and Sharing

Once you've identified the critical knowledge areas and potential gaps, prioritise them based on their importance to your operations and potential impact on customer satisfaction. Factors to consider when prioritising knowledge areas include:

  • Frequency of use: Focus on the knowledge your team most commonly needs or utilises.

  • Difficulty level: Prioritise knowledge that is challenging to acquire or requires significant experience to master.

  • Impact on customer satisfaction: Prioritise knowledge areas directly influencing customer satisfaction, such as troubleshooting common issues or handling complex customer interactions.

Focusing on high-priority knowledge areas will maximise the benefits of your knowledge management initiatives and improve your help desk's overall performance.


Knowledge Capture Techniques

Some ideas on techniques that can help you effectively capture both tacit and explicit knowledge:

Documentation of Procedures and Best Practices


a folder

Develop a process for documenting standard operating procedures, best practices, and troubleshooting guidelines. The reality is that this is a 'must do' activity for any IT environment and needs to be driven top down.


Encourage team members to contribute to these documents and ensure they are consistently updated to reflect any changes in technology or processes.

Store these documents in a centralised location, such as a shared folder or a knowledge management system, where they are easily accessible by the entire team.

Show them what "Good" looks like. Give examples and standardise formats of different types of articles; otherwise, you'll get wildly differing results.



a woman writing on a form

Also, recognise that not everyone is comfortable writing things for others to read. I've seen it many times, so it may be that if you are picking up on that, you can assign someone to extract the knowledge from the originator and have them document it.


Below I've included a couple of knowledge-base documentation templates. It's likely you already have tools or other ways to capture these things, but if you don't, these can get you started or give you ideas about what you need to capture.


knowledge base procedure template


knowledge base article template

Conducting Knowledge-Sharing and Shadowing Sessions with Experienced Team Members

Schedule knowledge-sharing sessions (KSS) or shadowing sessions with experienced team members to gain insights into their thought processes, problem-solving techniques, and unique expertise.

These sessions can be recorded and transcribed (automatically in many applications) to capture valuable tacit knowledge that might not be documented elsewhere. This information can then be used to create additional training materials, such as case studies or examples of handling specific situations.

Articles

About the author

Hi, I'm Alan, and have been working within the IT sector for over 30 years.

For the last 15 years, I've focused on IT Governance, Information Security, Projects and Service Management across various styles of organisations and markets.

I hold a degree in Information Systems, ITIL Expert certificate, PRINCE2 Practitioner and CISMP (Information Security Management).

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