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The Itil Community Forum: Forums

ITIL :: View topic - Forum as Knowledge Database
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Forum as Knowledge Database

 
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Burki
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Joined: Oct 24, 2006
Posts: 7

PostPosted: Tue Oct 31, 2006 7:31 am    Post subject: Forum as Knowledge Database Reply with quote

Hi everybody,

a few days ago, I was discussing the problems regarding our Knowledge DB at lunch with some colleagues. The problem is that we don't really have one.

Today a colleague of mine suggested to use a Forum software as knowledge DB.

In my opinion, having an integrated knowledge DB (in HP ServiceCenter) is better than using just another tool. I also think that the problem lies deeper ...in the minds of our employees. But that's another topic.

I'd like to hear your points of view on using a forum as knowledge DB.
Thanks in advance!

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

PostPosted: Tue Oct 31, 2006 7:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hello Burki,

Since you're bringing up the topic of a "Knowledge Base" and since my business is Knowledge Management, specifically with a slant on IT Operations (ITIL/RUP/MSF/MOF/SDLC/Etc.), I figured I'd throw in my two cents.

Forums are a very solid solution for "Communities of Practice" (COPs) when you can get people that are "willingly interested" to go to the forums to both ask questions (fostering "knowledge pull") and provide answers to other people's questions (fostering "knowledge push"). However, this being said, Forums are typically a horrible solution inside enterprises. The reason why is because the number of people that are truly experts in any one topic, within an enterprise, is usually very limited.

The reasons why a forum like this one works in a public COP is multifold:

  • The global public community has a much larger pool of experts
  • The probability of finding an expert that will take the time to share his/her experiences is much higher
  • Everyone comes to the forum because they want to, not because they have to
  • Because everyone comes from a different enterprise, in different countries, and with different cultural backgrounds, there is far more variety in the information offered, providing far greater learning opportunities
  • Etc.

While it's not impossible to make forums work in an enterprise, it's highly improbable. We've actually had many discussions with many different enterprises about this and they've all said the same thing: "We've tried to implement Forums many times, for many different areas, and for many different reasons but the end result is that they always fail due to lack of use."

What we find is that the few people in an enterprise that will take the time to use the forums are the same ones that are looking for better answers to their questions and the reality is that they simply have no one within their enterprises to turn to that can offer that much value.

All of the above being said, you are very correct about too many tools is not a viable option either. If you roll out a separate Forum tool, it is "just another tool" and becomes another key reasons for failure. People don't want to have to jump from one tool to another to accomplish their daily work. This is especially true if they have to redundantly enter the information in different tools to have it available in both places but in different forms. For example, a Service Desk that is dealing with calls in an Incident Management platform, doesn't want to leave the platform to go redundantly write about the same Incident in another Forum platform. This "breaks" the information into unnecessary parts that should otherwise be colocated.

What we've done to address this very problem is to embedd "Web 2.0" solutions (Discussion Forums, Blogging, Collaboration, etc.) into the same platform that people use for their day job(s). This way, they have a Knowledge Management System and an operational system, all in one place and making it so that they never leave their one environment to get the most out of what they do.

I'd love to know about other perspectives on this topic.

Anyhow, I hope this helps.

Regards,
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UKVIKING
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Joined: Sep 16, 2006
Posts: 3315
Location: London, UK

PostPosted: Thu Nov 02, 2006 4:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Frank

Thanks for the sales pitch. I wil one day look at your stuff. Just no time.

Burki,

A few years ago, I looked at Primus which was a good tool which you would create your own knowledge basis database from entries with in

However, I never had the chance to use it operationally.

As Frank, you need a tool which does what you need. As to a forum, it would require some one to manage it and keep things on topic.

Also, will your engineering types have the time to post to a forum or read a forum. Most sys &net and dev types are way too busy.. A tool where you can put in 'how to read a trace route' .. .how to reboot a server .. how to diagnose this kind of issue etc is good
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Change Management is POWER & CONTROL. /....evil laughter
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Guerino1
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Joined: Jan 01, 2006
Posts: 500
Location: New Jersey

PostPosted: Thu Nov 02, 2006 10:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi UKVIKING,

Actually, I'm not so much pitching my product as I am trying to get implementers of ITIL to understand that the "tool implementation" portion of ITIL is very critical. Failure to select and implement the proper ITIL tools is one of the most common drivers for ITIL implementation, in many enterprises. I believe the reasons behind this are that:

1) The tools are expensive
2) Most tools require post purchase customization/development
3) Most tools require ongoing post purchase maintenance, which requires some level of year-over-year dedicated headcount.
4) Most tools don't interact with each other (Many ITIL implementers don't think about this up front. They implement one discipline at a time, only to find two years down the line that nothing interacts/integrates properly).
5) Most tools are highly limited in what they offer their audience. For example, many tools require you to go out and buy expensive Business Intelligence/Reporting software for creating useful executive management reporting
6) Most tools require dedicated infrastructure, which also requires year-over-year maintenance and, ultimately, more people
Etc.

Long and complicated tool implementations feed into the political mess that causes many ITIL implementations to fail or become far larger and more expensive than originally intended.

My intention in elaborating on what we offer is to help explain that most tools in the ITIL space are either:

1) Pre-ITIL tools that have been rebranded to appear to be ITIL compliant
2) Newer tools that only handle very small pieces of ITIL but definitely have attempted to tackle more than one single discipline of ITIL, leaving integration to other tools, totally out of the picture
3) The newest tools (ITIL tools of the future) that are built from the ground up, with ITIL in mind and as the driving set of requirements.

The Remedies and Peregrines of the world fall into #1. They were built a while ago and retrofitted to help with ITIL.

All of the newer little open source help desk tools and the Marvals of the world tend to fall into category #2.

We fall into #3 and aside from SN and TraverseIT, there really aren't any other vendors in that category. Although, because ITIL is new in the states, you will probably start to see some new ones pop up, over the next year or two. It is important to get ITIL tool selectors to understand that the world of operational tools is "collapsing". For example:

- Old Tools: An Incid. Mgmt Tool, A Prob. Mgmt Tool, etc. They're all separate.
- Tools of the past couple years: Prob., Inc. and. Change are all in one tool.
- Tools of the future: ITIL, RUP, MSF, MOF, SDLC, PMI, etc. all handled by one tool.

We fall into this last category and I spend time explaining it because there are very few people in the world that have seen #3 or understand what it is. They've been trained to only understand 1 and 2.

Remember, that IT is bigger than just infrastructure. If you're picking a tool to meet your ITIL needs, then you're leaving out the developers, the PMO, the business analysts, and many more. It's important to think bigger picture. The last category of tools (all in one) are the wave of the future that are attempting to address the bigger picture, not just ITIL.

Please keep in mind that because ITIL is new in the states, it is at the early stages of adoption. If it clicks, many companies will try to ride the wave. If it doesn't it will slowly fade out and die, globally, as something else takes its place. My personal opinion is it has enough good in it to slowly click but it also has enough gaps and inaccuracies in it that it will cause many companies to look for other, better, options.

In describing our platform to the users of this forum, I'm trying to explain what a fully integrated ITIL platform might look like to them, as most tools they've ever seen or are looking at fall into categories #1 and #2. Remember that because ITIL is rather new, most people implementing it are only aware of the point solutions that come out of categories 1 & 2. In the mean time, the world is getting ready to move to category #3, which is more along the lines of "IT in-a-box" rather than "Pieces of ITIL in-a-box".

It appears that most Infrastructure and Operations stakeholders are not enterprise architects. As a result of this, they tend to myopically look at tools that fit their immediate needs rather than more strategic enterprise class tools that offer greater levels of longer term flexibility and value for the entire IT enterprise (or the entire business, including IT, for that matter). It's important to understand what you get yourself and your enterprise into when you pick a tool. You could seriously be hampering your growth if you pick a limited tool.

UKVIKING wrote:
A few years ago, I looked at Primus which was a good tool which you would create your own knowledge basis database from entries with in

However, I never had the chance to use it operationally.


If I'm correct, I believe Primus is the company and ATG is the product framework. I believe they have a help desk tool and some other collaborative solutions. If this isn't the tool, please let me know so I can explore it further.

Quote:
As Frank, you need a tool which does what you need. As to a forum, it would require some one to manage it and keep things on topic.


This isn't necessarilly true in an enterprise. People in a public forum stray. People in a work forum tend to be more focused. What we do is offer "catalog of topics". Users "create" an entry for that topic, that is limited by the attributes they can leverage. For example, if you use the topic "Incident" and create a new Incident record, you can only leverage Incident attributes to do so (you can't stray). Once the Incident is created, it becomes a root node in space for collaboration. You can have discussions around it, you can associate documents with it. You can tie it to people, places, and things, like stakeholders, business units, assets, licenses, etc. Since someone created the Incident, people that collaborate around that Incident are specifically interested in that topic. It is a more focused topic than in a discussion forum, such as this one. (We also offer broader built in discussion forum options for those that want to cover miscellaneous topics for collaboration.) We do, however, offer the users the ability to "move" things from one topic to any other more appropriate topic. We even offer the ability to share between topics, something that a discussion forum like this one cannot do (a very neat concept that comes from the core functionality of a CMDB, as applied to Knowledge Management).

Quote:
Also, will your engineering types have the time to post to a forum or read a forum. Most sys &net and dev types are way too busy.. A tool where you can put in 'how to read a trace route' .. .how to reboot a server .. how to diagnose this kind of issue etc is good


I believe this is not necessarilly true. Many Sys, Net, Call Center types are constantly posting information to tools. It's just their own tools. If they're posting to one master collaborative tool, then they've shared their info without knowing it or missing a beat in their work. If they're not posting to such tools, they're often working from them. In many medium to larger enterprises, they get their work from Service Request queues, Incident & Problem platforms, etc. If yours are not, you may want to integrate them into your ITIL processes for consistency.

Anyhow, I hope this helps.

Regards,
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UKVIKING
Senior Itiler


Joined: Sep 16, 2006
Posts: 3315
Location: London, UK

PostPosted: Fri Nov 03, 2006 5:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Frank

You are selling your tool set in every post where you explain what your tool does and comparing it to compliance alignment with ITIL .
You cant help it.

I learn about your tool and your knowledge of ITIL and how your tool alings with ITIL w/o have to sit through the Presentation (GRIN) Shrug.

topic shift
----
Any tool that a company chooses needs to be able to fit their particular requirements and be flexible enough to be customized for that customers' needs. The customer should NOT have to fit their ITIL Best Practices to the tool that the company has bought / acquired / sold

But as we both know... the tool get bought as a panacea to the need for ITIL w/o realizing that the people and processes need to be done first

As to Primus... that was 4+ years ago. I got the certificate which says PRIMUS which I believe to be the tool // application vice the company

It was a neat tool but expensive
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John Hardesty
ITSM Manager's Certificate (Red Badge)

Change Management is POWER & CONTROL. /....evil laughter
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