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Knowledge Base Owner

 
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Sarge
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Joined: Feb 28, 2006
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 21, 2006 10:57 pm    Post subject: Knowledge Base Owner Reply with quote

I don't believe that ITIL really goes into the use of a Knowledge Base. Tell me if I'm wrong.

As a Problem Manager I've been asked who owns an Knowledge Databse. My view is that Problem Management own and administer the Known Error Databse but the Service Desk would own a Knowledge Database with input from Problem Management, Incident Management, Technical team, etc.

If anyone is aware of an offical ITIL stance of this I would appreciate it.

Thanks
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Ed
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Joined: Feb 28, 2006
Posts: 411
Location: Coventry, England

PostPosted: Fri Apr 21, 2006 11:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sarge

From the book on Marketing the Service Desk amongst Customers

"It is important that all reference materials and procedures used by Customers, Users and support staff are well maintained, kept up-to-date and regularly reviewed, including:

standard checklists
training manuals
lists of Known Errors and solutions
product and application documentation
hardware documentation
knowledge bases
support specialists skill set
command procedures, scripts and programs
the Customer/Supplier database(s). "

For me this says you are correct

Regards

Ed
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Azard
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Joined: Apr 26, 2005
Posts: 56

PostPosted: Sat Apr 22, 2006 2:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi, my take is it all depends on what you define a Knowledgebase is. My definition:
It is a repository of optimized workarounds or permanent solutions.

With that said, a Knowledgebase is something that falls under the control of Problem Management, since problem management provides permanent solutions and also optimizes workarounds from Incident Management. I view the Known Error database and the KnowledgeBase as potentially the same database.

I do not think I would want the Service Desk updating or adding entries into the KnowldegeBase without having some way to review the contents first. Remember they are there to resore service, not solve root cause.

cheers,

Azard
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Guerino1
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Joined: Jan 01, 2006
Posts: 500
Location: New Jersey

PostPosted: Sat Apr 22, 2006 6:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hello All,

I'll put my two cents into this, since a large part of our business is Knowledge Management.

When all of you speak of KM, you seem to always refer to what your personal spaces are, within an IT organization. If you speak with a CxO level manager (CIO/CTO/COO), you'll find that their view and expectations of a KM are far larger than what you're describing. They want one system that has "all" relevant information. So, for example, they want to be able to type in a string and have a fully categorized set of search results that come up that say something like:

String "XYZ" found in:

37 Projects
13 Incidents
2 Problems
9 Changes
8 Resources
12 Facilites
2 Organizations
Etc...

In the above, example, they want to be able to then drill into any one of them to easily find whatever they need. And, after they've drilled in, they want to be able to drill into other related information, and so on. Also, please keep in mind that a string based search, like in the example above, is a very small percentage of the features that are required of a real KMS. You'll need to have data pivoting, data mining, automatic implicit relationship generation, and much more.

I guess my point is to think bigger when you speak about a KM. If you think small, then you might as well say that any database, document, or data source is a "Knowledge Base", since they all hold some limited form of knowledge.

Anyhow, I hope this helps.

Regards,
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rjp
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Joined: Mar 12, 2005
Posts: 255
Location: Melbourne, Australia

PostPosted: Sun Apr 23, 2006 1:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It is valuable to consider data, information, and knowledge as overlapping but distinct 'products' of the actvities of the entire IT organisation.

Some useful distinctions; Information is data that means something specific in a given operational contect. Information has a short to medium term shelf-life. Knowledge is information that is structures to be applied by people in any situation to which it may bring additional value. Knowledge generally costs more to 'produce' and as such has a medium to long term shelf life.

The usual form of information is the 'record' or the 'report'. The usual form of knowledge is the 'article', the 'document' or even the 'description'.

Processes capture information - people capture knowledge.

This is a critical distinction - without it you are using information and knowledge as either synonyms or as a way af grading the quality of data.

You can have excellent, high quality, and detailed information produced by systems and processes, but it is when people interpret and apply that information to the creation of a reuseable resource that you have knowledge production. For example advanced BIS roll-ups for C level management is a form of knowledge production - but higher function aggregation is a small subset of knowledge managment, as is high function searching of operational information. The reason being that there is no transformation of the underlying information into a persistent, (and flexible) resource.

Which raises an interesting point: Knoweledge creation and management is expensive. Information management when done at a highly functional level can provide a lot of "instantaneous" knowledge. So before thinking about knowledge bases, organisation would do well to ensure they have taken the useability of their information to an appropriate level of functionality.

As I said, information and knowledge overlap, and you can argue till the cows come home before you will find a perfect dividing line. However the distinction is real enough to affect how knowledge management is implemented, justified, and maintained.

If you think about knowledge as such, it is clear that knowledge creation is everyone's business. But the Service Desk is the obvious owner of knowledge management as a process.
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Guerino1
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Joined: Jan 01, 2006
Posts: 500
Location: New Jersey

PostPosted: Sun Apr 23, 2006 2:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

rjp wrote:
But the Service Desk is the obvious owner of knowledge management as a process.


Hello RJP,

Many would disagree with this statement as most, if not all, processes are typically owned by the Chief Operations Officer (COO) who, not suprisingly, is responsible for how an enterprise "operates" and, typically, is responsible for holding the master process catalog. In the event that an organization has no COO, the responsibilities will most likely fall to the CIO, CTO, or lead Engineer or Architect, as these roles are the drivers for revenue generation.

Also, to think that the Service Desk is the most critical portion of a large IT organization is a bit limiting. Knowledge Management, as a process, is something that is valuable to many different organizations. The Service Desk, while very important, is not the only user of such a process. Product Development & Engineering, Marketing, Sales, Operational Support, etc. will all care about Knowledge specific to their domains as well as the Knowledge that comes from other domains within their organization. For example, a development team will definitively care about all Incidents and Problems, as well as all accumulated Knowledge related to such topics, which are associated with their product(s). Such Knowledge is critical for them to improve their product(s), on an ongoing basis.

Also, please remember that Service Desk is a "support" function, not a revenue generation function. Most companies must generate revenue to survive and many would take the position that the Knowledge that helps generate revenue (pre-sales support) is far more important to them than the Knowledge that helps support customers, products, and service (post-sales support). This is not to say that the Knowledge necessary for the Service Desk is any less important to the stakeholders in support, who have their own needs that must be addressed to help an enterprise be successful.

A large enterprise is made up of many different groups/organizations that have their own roles and responsibilities. They all generate and consume all forms of Data, Information, and Knowledge. It is, therefore, critical, to always keep the bigger picture in mind.

I hope this helps.

Regards,
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rjp
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Joined: Mar 12, 2005
Posts: 255
Location: Melbourne, Australia

PostPosted: Sun Apr 23, 2006 11:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Good points Frank - and I don't dissagree. However, I think we are starting out with a different idea of the 'scope' of knowledge management.

My comments apply only to the production of knowledge from ITIL processes and to be employed in improving the productivity of staff carrying out those processes.

Which I believe is appropriate where we are considering knowledge management initiatives intended to enhance ITIL/ISTM implementations.

Knowledge management - as you rightly point out - is an area wich transcends IT production activity, and as such is frequently a major coorporate initiative with very high-level sponsorship.

Within the scope I was addressing - enhancing the productivity of IT staff - I stand by my recommendation that the Service Desk 'own' knowledge management. But by own - I mean that they are the function responsible for the operation of the processes that publish, approve, and QA - i.e., they own the general oversight. Ownership, as you intend it - in terms of accountability and sponsorship, would probably rest with a senior manager: but who would depend on how authority is allocated in a particular organisation.

Recommending the Service Desk is in accord with the ITIL framework. It does however rest on the assumption that we are talking about a highly skilled service desk, with an active role in QA and process improvement. Many service desks are high volume 'commoditised' call centres. I would not recommend such functions 'own' knowledge management.

A skilled 'professional' service desk however, is not only the conduit for communications between the IT organisation and the business, it is also the central clearing houses for communication within the IT organisation between the various ITSM processes as well as infrastrucutre management groups.

With regards to the wider scope you were referencing: How IT information is a production factor of 'knowledge' the business applies to its own objectives. I am in total agreement. I do however think this should be managed as a specific service IT provides - governed by agreements - in accordance with the 'business within a business' model ITIL is based on.

I would not recommend IT look at providing such a Service as an exttension, or continuation of its own technical knowledge management and production. The scales, costs, and business risks are too divergent. In a large organisation the difference is between 6 and 7 figure budgets.

At any scale, however, I do satnd by my distinction between 'knowledge' and 'information' regardless of the scope. (My initial thinking on the topic was motiviated by demand in my own organisation and observations of how IT staff find and use information to their own ends. But also in the context of writing on the subject by experts like Malcom Fry - one of the original contributors to the ITIL framework.)

Knoweldge is information applied to a range of descisions that are in the human scale of complexity. Information, and even Business Intelligence, is critical but is of a different order. By it's very definition, knowledge, is something that cannot be left to technology. Malcom Fry takes it one step further and identifies 'Wisdom' as the highest order of the 'information' hierarchy. I'm not sure that doesn't abstract things to an unecessary level - but I would agree that knowledge and wisdom are what people create. Knowledge management as a process (including technical repsoistories or not) is applicable to the creative efforts of people: People gathering, selecting, filtering, shaping, and representing information in a way that informs and supports the efforts of others.

The output of Knowledge Management is not a chart or a report or a trend - that's business intelligence. The output of Knowledge Management is advice, recommendations, explanations, instructions, etc - that are well crafted, and well organised enough to be useful outside the situation in which they were produced.

Much like this thread (hopefully)

- A pleasure, as always Smile
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ozz
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Joined: Apr 02, 2006
Posts: 40

PostPosted: Mon May 08, 2006 2:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

To be frank Frank,
I struggle with this, this looks more like the old age battle of service versus sales. I see the Service Desk as an integrated part of the sales process. Service does produce revenue and under an ITIL framework one would see that value. Maybe be "funny money' but the cost of support is a factor in many sales decisions. In the software market the support contract is the greater long term breadwinner.. A function Service Desk is the key to the value of the support contract.


Oz

snip
Also, please remember that Service Desk is a "support" function, not a revenue generation function. Most companies must generate revenue to survive and many would take the position that the Knowledge that helps generate revenue (pre-sales support) is far more important to them than the Knowledge that helps support customers, products, and service (post-sales support). This is not to say that the Knowledge necessary for the Service Desk is any less important to the stakeholders in support, who have their own needs that must be addressed to help an enterprise be successful.
snip
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rjp
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Joined: Mar 12, 2005
Posts: 255
Location: Melbourne, Australia

PostPosted: Mon May 08, 2006 9:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ozz,

a distinction: Internal and External 'customers'. Your comments are most apposite to technology provision companies that implement Service Desk functions for paying customers.

This is not the exact scope of the ITIL Service Desk model. It is primarliy conceived as an internal function of the IT organisation for supporting fellow employess. Even where charging is used, the Service Desk's capability to generate sales is not a KPI or CSF. On the 'business within a business' model 'sales' are made to Business Managers.

Even in tehc companies there is still 'internal' IT - in which case one might want to separate the Internal and External Service Desk functions.
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ozz
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Joined: Apr 02, 2006
Posts: 40

PostPosted: Tue May 09, 2006 3:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Gees dude beating up on a lad from Carrum thats a bit rough LOL

Yes I should have specified internal vx external. I am in the position where the help desk does produce revenue on both sides internal and external..

oz
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