Knowledge Base Management Techniques

White Mechdyne logo in black square

A useful service desk knowledge base is a dynamic and evolving resource, the sum total of the expertise of every IT professional who has ever accessed, reviewed, or contributed to it. Like a living organism, it must be constantly fed and maintained in order to thrive. In other words, it must be populated with the most thorough and up-to-date troubleshooting information in order to remain a relevant tool for the service desk. Below are some recommended techniques on how to create, rate, and update your knowledge base.

  • Perform onsite discovery to review existing client documentation. Even for clients that bring significant documentation to a new vendor, the Director of Operations and assigned Team Lead must identify gaps in documentation and review all troubleshooting and escalation scenarios for each supported application.
  • Develop and update articles for the service desk team. Where necessary, the service desk implementation team authors and compiles additional procedural documentation, reviewing all content with client IT management in advance of a new service launch.
    • Create troubleshooting scripts for the service desk. Similar to resolution procedures that document what steps the agent should take to resolve the caller’s issue, scripts outline what questions they should ask the end user to identify root cause and appropriate procedure.
    • Identify what essential details to document for incident escalations. Various systems and applications, as well as the various groups handling escalations, may have a diverse set of requirements of what data to capture when forwarding the ticket. Should the agent include an employee ID, an error message screen shot, an alternate call back number? Most ITSM platforms automatically generate essential data such as ticket number, date stamps, and ownership in an email before it’s forwarded to the appropriate resource, but additional data fields may be required depending on the workflow.
    • Create “how to” articles for end users. Assuming the ITSM platform includes an end user portal, searchable FAQs and knowledge articles are the ideal self-service tools that minimize contacts to the service desk and keep IT costs low. Otherwise known as call avoidance, the goal is to prevent unnecessary utilization of internal service desk agents or, in an outsourcing scenario, deter usage related costs levied per call or per incident. To maximize end-user generated resolutions, the knowledge base should be thoroughly populated with as many common or known issue resolution procedures as possible.
  • Follow the Knowledge Base publishing process using ITIL best practices. This entails creating a knowledge management workflow for new article submissions and review by authorized IT personnel who have the ability to approve or reject a submission and include the reason for any rejections.
    • Work with client to create or update articles for the Service Desk. One of the ongoing operational review topics is improving Level 1 closure rates. To do so, the service desk team lead reviews all escalated tickets. Assuming the service desk has adequate training and access, the team lead addresses opportunities to increase resolution with additional procedural documentation or KBAs that may have been overlooked during the discovery and implementation phase.
    • Forward article for approval before publishing to Knowledge Base. When it comes to knowledge article creation or updates, access should be limited to the Subject Matter Experts in order to prevent inaccurate information being disseminated to all IT staff and end users; however, since service desk agents are the ones most frequently referring to knowledge base articles (KBAs), they tend to be the first to notice if the resolution required any deviation from the step-by-step instructions. Include those missing steps in the ticket, and provide feedback on the KBA which is sent to the client’s internal team. In fact, most ticketing systems allow feedback from end users on how helpful they considered the KBA, flagging incomplete, inaccurate or otherwise poor performing documentation for review.
    • Train agents to use keyword searches to identify articles relevant to the issue. This entails not only know what systems and applications are supported but learning the appropriate terminology associated with that environment. One organization’s “can’t send email” may be another’s “Outlook problems.” Ideally, all synonymous terms are indexed in the keywords for each article and agents train on a glossary of terms for each supported account.
  • Continue to review and update the Knowledge Base. Considering how frequently new technology is rolled out at any organization, knowledge base management is work that’s never really done. As a result, existing KBAs should be reviewed for accuracy and relevance by the Team Lead with client management input when version dates reach a specified point. As a result, the service desk developers set up the ITSM platform to email auto reminders that prompt review and updates of articles at regular intervals.

For more service desk related tips and tricks, feel free to subscribe to our blog.