The second technique of the improve practice is Flag It or Fix It.
Flag It or Fix It – Real Time Improvement Beacons
Within the culture of KCS, people take responsibility for what they see in the knowledge base; they should follow the simple rule of “flag it or fix it.” Licensed users can clean up minor problems in the moment, or add information that enriches and evolves the KCS article. KCS articles that are flagged need to trigger a workflow that will get the attention of a subject matter expert. These modifications, based on real usage (demand), lead to continuous, ongoing knowledge base improvement.
In the act of searching, we should:
- Use It—leverage and link an existing KCS article to resolve an incident.
- Flag It— if we are not licensed or confident, we should add comments to the article (Rework or Technical Review states are one way to flag an article) so that an authorized person can fix it.
- Fix It— modify an existing KCS article if we are licensed and confident.
- Add It— create a new KCS article if one does not already exist.
When is a New KCS Article Necessary?
When is a new KCS article justified? KCS article creation should occur when a unique resolution is required to address an issue within a specific environment and such an article has not yet been documented in the knowledge base or in another searchable, maintained repository of questions and answers in the customers context (see “Linking”). While the content standard should provide some guiding criteria, as with many things in the KCS model this decision requires judgment. Generally, there should be one KCS article per problem (unique resolution and cause). However, this is not an absolute rule, and the criteria should be developed based on experience in the environment.
KCS articles will evolve through use and sometimes merge or split as additional experience emerges. A single KCS article may include different ways to solve a problem. For example, the fix or resolution may include a number of ways to deal with the issue such as temporary work-around to the problem as well as a formal fix or code update. As we will see later, we augment Solve Loop “in the workflow” articles with Evolve Loop articles that describe the diagnostic processes that can guide users through a number of procedural KCS articles that will get them to the correct article to solve the issue. This is very helpful in dealing with issues that have very generic symptoms and multiple possible causes.
Awareness Enables Collaboration
Even though a newly created KCS article, or Work-in-Progress (WIP), may not contain a resolution, it represents valuable knowledge. Work-in-Progress articles in the knowledge base enable others in the organization to discover that a problem is being worked. This process helps eliminate duplicate effort—two Analysts unknowingly solving the same problem in parallel. Awareness enables collaboration.
Predicting The Future Value Of A Knowledge Article
Support Analysts should not be expected or try to assess the future value of a KCS article. If the problem or question is worth solving, it is worth saving. Our goal is to create a knowledge base that reflects the collective experience of the organization. The completeness of that experience then more accurately reflects, through patterns and trends, the customer experience. If we selectively ignore issues by not capturing them, the patterns over time are less valuable.
Knowledge Article Scope
When creating new articles we should not attempt to extend the article to cover all possible situations that might occur. Instead, the article should resolve the issue raised by the customer. Then, if the article is reused, it should be modified or expanded based on customer demand. Over time, the problem statements in the article will describe the issue in as many ways as customers have experienced them.
Positive and Negative Redundancy
A certain level of redundancy and diversity in a knowledge practice is healthy. Redundancy becomes a problem only when it adversely affects the findability and usability of the content.
Some examples of acceptable redundancy include:
- KCS articles for the same issue but for different target audiences. This can avoid confusion. Target audiences can be defined as an environment variable, thus requiring a separate issue with a different resolution.
- KCS articles that capture wholly different experiences but have the same resolution and cause. Initially these articles will not show in a single search. But if these KCS articles are being used and modified over time, their problem statements will eventually have them show up in a single search, at which point they should be merged (updating and keeping the oldest). Having two articles with different issues statements with the same resolution does not necessarily mean there is redundancy. You must also consider the cause. It is possible to have the same resolution for two complete different issues. If the cause is different, then the issues are most likely unique and therefore no redundancy exists. When you find two articles that have different issues and the same resolution, the advice is to evaluate the articles to see if they are two different descriptions of the same problem. Both may just have different symptoms. In this case there is redundancy and the article should be merged. You may also find two articles with similar descriptions and different resolutions. Upon evaluation the issues and environment are the same, the cause is the same, however the resolutions provided are different. This is also redundancy. In this case the duplicate articles should be merged.
Content as shown in KCS Version 5.3 Knowledge-Centered Support Practices Guide (2012) S2 [21.1-3, 22.1-8]. KCS v5.3 was written and edited by Melissa George, David Kay, Greg Oxton, Rick Joslin, Jennifer MacIntosh, and Kelly Murray.
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