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Can SharePoint and Knowledge Management Tools be Complementary?

05.09.2014 KPS Knowledge Capture

Proponents of Knowledge Management technology have been challenged to adapt to change in the IT landscape. IT infrastructures – and indeed, IT’s mission – have undergone a remarkable evolution over the last five years.

The walls between the IT function and other business functions are coming down. IT must provide value that non-technical business leaders can understand, and business executives are getting better at communicating business objectives to managers in the IT organization.

That evolution has been advantageous for Microsoft’s ubiquitous content management and collaboration platform, SharePointEnabling non-technical users to create practical business tools for themselves is one of SharePoint’s core value propositions, and this has helped to drive adoption as a potential one-size-fits-all platform for solutions to diverse business problems. The question is: Does Sharepoint solve the Knowledge Management challenge?

A Content or Knowledge Management Platform?

Could Knowledge Management be one of those problems that SharePoint can solve? Possibly – if your organization defines Knowledge Management purely as a content management and collaboration function. Generally, however, it isn’t, most of the practical problems for which Knowledge Management has generated real value have been Transactional in nature.

Transactional Business Processes

Transactional Knowledge Management typically is focused on a specific, carefully defined business process with clear and measurable success criteria, such as enhancing problem resolution at a Contact Centre or Service Desk. Your team diagnoses and resolves issues or answers questions. Most of those issues are recurrent in nature, so capturing your solutions explicitly and making them available to manage future recurrences is likely to have high value – value that can be measured in productivity terms.

“Solutions” can, of course, be captured as documents or items in a list, and a content management system like SharePoint can store them in a searchable repository. Examine other common business processes and you will find that many kinds of “experts” perform similarly recurrent, transactional tasks on a daily basis.

Context versus Content

Storing solutions in searchable libraries rarely is sufficient for Knowledge Management purposes. For a solution to have value, the system needs to capture not only its title and keywords but also the context in which it was relevant when the solution was created. A true Knowledge Management system allows the user to search for the current question or problem, and then proposes one or more solutions, based on past experiences. This should make intuitive sense – the searcher knows how to describe the symptoms, not the cure.

A solution may be relevant to several kinds of problems – and a problem may have more than one solution. The Knowledge Management system deals with this issue by linking each common problem to its solutions, which are actually separate objects or list items. There is significant value in the way the solution is documented, but the real knowledge is in the link – the association between the solution and the problem the user is actually experiencing.

A Gap for SharePoint

This linking is what dedicated Knowledge Management tools are designed to do with minimal user effort. But this is where Knowledge Management becomes a problem for SharePoint.

SharePoint offers no way to simultaneously read a problem description and search for (or author) a separate solution. Each of these actions would have to be done in a separate browser window. And creating a link from the problem to the solution would have to be done manually, by copying and pasting an ID or title from the solution to the problem record. This is simply a design limitation – SharePoint just doesn’t have the relational structure required for this kind of associating function.

Complementary Solution

So, is SharePoint a reasonable platform for Knowledge Management?

It is an excellent, and very widely adopted, enterprise repository for content, which might include content used in practical problem-solving. So SharePoint can meet part of the requirement, but in order to satisfy the needs of Transaction Knowledge Management, it needs the help of a true Knowledge Management tool.

Study our White Paper to what a knowledge management solution combining the strengths of SharePoint and a true knowledge management platform would look like. Learn how the complementary strengths of the two assets can be combined to create a superior solution for supporting your critical business processes.

 

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What are Knowledge Management Solutions?

28.07.2014 KPS Knowledge Capture

The concept of knowledge management was originally conceived by Peter Drucker in the 1950’s who was famously quoted as saying “Information only becomes knowledge in the hands of someone who knows what to do with it”. Since then knowledge management has become a specialist focus area for larger organisations. 

Since the discipline of knowledge management was established in 1991 there have been many discussions as to how knowledge management can be put in to practice. One of the most popular approaches in businesses is to use a knowledge management software solution to support customer service and technical support operations such as contact / call centres, shared service centres, web self service functions and help desks including ITSM (IT Service Management) operations.

The Best Software for Knowledge Management Explained

This has involved many attempts at internal systems such as internal ‘shared drives’ to huge databases with complicated hyper-links and meta-data. Over time with more and more information being amassed it has become harder and harder to access the specific information required without a lengthy search or an intimate knowledge of where the information is stored. The best software for Knowledge Management simply indexes a wide range of information resources before filtering and prioritising into relevant knowledge, in addition to providing an internal content management function and reports to measure knowledge base usage and knowledge gaps.

Many Information Sources Available From One Central Point

The system itself indexes all the required content from all the relevant sources without the need to move any information to a central location and uses a natural language search function to allow users to access the information quickly and easily. This allows easy and timely deployment of a solution without the need to reformat or re-purpose large amounts of legacy information.

Describe the Issue – Find the Solution

Often users know how to describe what their issue is but do not know how the solution will be phrased or explained.  Using the best software for knowledge management, staff, partners and customers can describe the issue, problem or query in their own way and enter the phrase directly into a search. The knowledge management solution will identify solutions that are known to address similar issues and present these in order of relevance.

Natural Language Questions

Natural language search allows users to ask questions using the language they would normally use in conversation, rather than by typing in keywords.  Documents are often written in formal terms which does not reflect the language used when asking a question. The best software for knowledge management now includes Natural language search functionality  as one of its key features, since this allows the system  to understand the context of the question and not just the keywords which are needed for a successful search result.

This is particularly important in industries that use an industry vocabulary like for example the finance sector where a direct debit is often referred to as DD. Natural language capability can enable the use of the terms that are common to the organisation.

Self Learning to Increase Relevance

A knowledge management system has a self-learning capability which captures the constantly changing flow of information.  This continuously revises the index with the actual phrasing used in questions. New content can continue to be added following the original implementation by adding to the content repositories already in use. Self-learning also extends to users identifying the quality of the solutions presented, so solutions that are helpful are naturally presented first.

Pushing Relevant Content to Users

A knowledge management solution can also facilitate a push strategy allowing specific content to be ‘pushed’ to a specific user group when required. This ensures new information is received by the relevant people as and when required. The system reports as to who and when the information was read.

This allows administration users to identify where the people are who still need to be briefed on any new information. The system can also manage user profiles across an organisation in order to allow specific access to relevant information for each user profile. This enables knowledge to be distributed inside and outside the organisation while retaining control.

Identifying Knowledge Gaps

A knowledge management solution also can identify knowledge gaps and refer unanswered issues and questions to content experts who can respond to the question by adding new information back in to the system. This reduces the need for the same question to be escalated to relevant experts multiple times. Tracking and responding to knowledge gaps also eliminates guesswork on where knowledge gaps might be present before creating new solutions.

Join the discussion – How would you explain the best software for Knowledge Management?

About KPS Knowledge Management Solutions

Knowledge Powered Solutions (KPS) was formed in 2004 to meet the increased need for effective access to knowledge across large organisations.  KPS software indexes vast amounts of information and enables a single point of access in a much more focused way.

Initially introduced as a part of ITSM (IT Service Management) for HP and Remedy based systems,  KPS knowledge management tools are now used as stand-alone systems and integrated with CRM and Contact Centre systems.  KPS knowledge management solutions are also used for web self service where internal and external information users can identify relevant solutions on-line.

KPS is now a leading provider of knowledge management solutions, with implementations across the world. The KPS knowledge management solution is flexible and can be deployed across a wide range of applications managing any number of users. KPS knowledge management solutions are indexing and supporting content in more than 10 different European languages.

To find out more about our social media ready knowledge management software, please contact us >>

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SharePoint – A Choice for Knowledge Management?

02.06.2014 KPS Knowledge Capture

Microsoft SharePoint is a common component in  IT environments. Often used as a content management and sharing platform SharePoint may be used to capture and share a wide range of information within organisations.  Does this make SharePoint a choice for knowledge management?

Working with clients that use SharePoint we have considered how SharePoint is used in relation to typical Knowledge Management processes. In our experience it is important to evaluate what each individual organisation requires from their Knowledge Management solution.

As a result important features and capabilities can be identified and the question of whether SharePoint is the right choice for Knowledge Management can be answered specifically for each organization. We have collected some key points below, but for further details you can access our SharePoint and Knowledge Management fact sheet below:

 

What is SharePoint?

SharePoint is a collaboration and content management platform often used as a medium for sharing of information within organisations. Highly adaptable and relatively simple to implement, SharePoint can be a very effective information repository. Key features in SharePoint support the creation, editing and sharing of information.

What Is Knowledge Management?

Typically knowledge management solutions are focused on supporting a knowledge intensive  business process with clear and measurable outcomes. Often the process includes problem and solution management in a specialist field such as IT or customer service. Key features in knowledge management solutions support quick and accurate matching of solutions to specific questions. This helps process efficiency and speeds up time to resolution.

How is Knowledge Management Used?

Regardless of how and where information is stored, knowledge management systems  index all relevant sources of information. This enables the creation of a knowledge base where relevant information is accessed by asking specific questions. Responses are presented and matched to the question. Importantly the system collects feedback from the user so the most relevant responses are highlighted the next time a similar question is asked.

These core features of questions based searches and continuous improved matching of responses to questions, makes a knowledge management solution an ideal support tool for handling transactional based knowledge.  This becomes increasingly relevant where subject matter specific knowledge is critical for achieving a solution.

When is SharePoint a Choice for Knowledge Management?

Back to the original question, SharePoint has a very useful role to play.  As an information repository and content management system SharePoint is simple to implement and maintain. Information used in knowledge management solutions can come from SharePoint libraries  as well as from any other source of information. Knowledge management solutions will enhance the use of information in critical business processes. Working together SharePoint and knowledge management are complimentary.

Study our fact sheet to learn more about ways to get the most from SharePoint and your knowledge management process. Learn how different features and capabilities can be used to create a superior solution for supporting your critical business processes.

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Increase Productivity Within Your Organisation

16.07.2013 KPS Knowledge Capture

Creating time is obviously impossible but something that we would all love to do, especially when you are up against that deadline!  

There are ways that we can all work more efficiently or look to improve our own personal methodologies but when you are up against time scales then it becomes even more important to be able to find the information that you need to support your daily activities and increase productivity. 

How long do you spend searching for information from within?

Everyone talks these days about not having enough time.  With most employees spending on average about 45 minutes every day looking for something that their organisation already has, it would be great to be able to generate time for your employees and allow them to become frustration free when accessing information from within!  It is the organisation’s knowledge that employees need access to, regardless of what CMS tools or CRM systems you have in your organisation.

Maximising your Organisations applications to generate time

To maximise the productivity improvements across your workforce, you need to have the necessary tools available to ensure that they can find information, regardless of where it resides.  It is important to understand the value of important items of software / web applications that you and your colleagues need to be able to access information quickly, so sub second searches are important if not essential and vital for the organisation to increase efficiencies and productivity when looking to find things.

The retrieval of information, quickly is essential to improve both employee efficiencies and deliver enhanced customer services.  What we are actually talking about here is Knowledge Management, we all do it in our everyday lives but we don’t necessarily refer to the official term!

Increasing productivity easily with a Knowledge Management Strategy

First of all you will need a knowledge management strategy (there are more blogs to follow that will discuss this in more detail).  Once you have a strategy then it is important to work this into the everyday culture of your organisation, so that items are filed easily and can be retrieved quickly, even by other employees who may not know what you have called the document, finance sheet or presentation.  By having a knowledge management strategy you will therefore improve and increase productivity within your organisations and saving / generating time for others for their daily tasks.

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IT Service Desk Productivity Enhancement

02.05.2013 Industry Sectors

This article focus on the ways in which IT Service Desk productivity can be enhanced through the implementation of a quality knowledge management solution.

This initial post introduces knowledge management solutions and the many benefits as well as the many challenges that may be faced without it. Subsequent articles will look at each area in more depth.

Do More with Less

Given the current economic climate, it is now more important than ever that businesses aim to ‘do more with less’; increased budget constraints and reduced staffing levels are just two of the many challenges faced by entire organisations – but nowhere are these challenges more prominent than within a modern day service desk.  Can efficiency and productivity be increased against the odds?

A Complex set of Challenges

The challenges of a service desk are vast; not only are senior staff asked to support an increasing number of often complex technologies with fewer resources but they are also under pressure to ensure that the resource that they do have is trained adequately and, most importantly, quickly.

Additionally, they are required to increase first line resolution whilst reducing escalations all without relying too heavily on individual ‘experts’ that, should they be absent for any reason, can leave behind a number of unresolved issues.  Add to this the desire to implement a self-service strategy and it’s clear to see why an intelligent knowledge management solution is required.

The Time Spent Searching for Information

45% of the US workforce spends at least 3 hours per week just searching for information in the workplace¹.  This shocking statistic becomes even more considerable when it is within the context of a service desk where the inability to find relevant information at first contact can cost the satisfaction of a customer and affect revenue.

Using Knowledge Management to Leverage Existing Information

Such is the reason why companies are keen to implement a knowledge management solution where the ability to leverage existing information is key. One centralised knowledge base that sits over the top of an entire information estate (and all the departments that sit within it) allows staff to quickly and easily find key information at the point of need, consequently making self-service and its many benefits (increased service levels and customer satisfaction plus lowered costs and call volumes) a possibility.

What are the Alternatives?

The consequence of not implementing such a system?  Low customer satisfaction and high customer turnover; in a survey of 58 business and technology decision-makers, nearly 40% evaluated their knowledge management abilities as poor or below average.

This gap makes it difficult for customer service agents to quickly find the most relevant information with which to respond to customer requests.  This lengthens call-handle times and frustrates customers who are not provided the most pertinent advice for solving their problems.²

Reduce Training Times for New Users

Another advantage to having one ‘overarching’ knowledge management solution is the reduction in (new user) training times.  The ability for ‘experts’ along with any other member of staff to share experience and knowledge in a reusable and easy-to-find format allows new employees to quickly gain the confidence that they require to be productive.

This would also help experienced staff to further increase their existing knowledge.  This consequently improves the customer experience, reduces escalations and most importantly significantly lowers training time and costs.  In fact, some best of breed knowledge bases used effectively have reported reductions in training times from 6 months to 6 weeks to gain 80% operational effectiveness.

Delivering Benefits to Secure Stakeholder Support

Whilst it is true that technology alone cannot transform a business, securing the buy-in of senior members of staff (and consequently adding the final piece to the jigsaw) becomes much easier when they can see a return on their input the value of knowledge management can be measured by the increased effectiveness of staff using the knowledge³ refined speed to resolution and quality, aided adherence to SLAs and, most importantly within this context, a significant improvement in the productivity and efficiency of the service desk.

Sources:

¹Forrester October 2012, “Take Control of Your Content” report.
²January 10, 2008, “Customer Service Best Practice Adoption” report
³March 9, 2010, “Knowledge Management Is A Foundation For Good Customer Support” report

If you want to find out more about our knowledge management software, please contact us >>

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Data Migration, Why Do This In The First Place?

05.06.2012 KPS Knowledge Capture

We have recently been asked by a number of customers and clients if we can talk a little more about how we can reduce the need for Data Migration. 

Perhaps its unnecessary to describe the advantages of not having to migrate your data. Sometimes there is a need to do this at all. But what steps can you take for that 

WIN – WIN Situation,

Where you can  save time, effort, money, manpower and resources… While creating much enhanced access to your organisations information?

Data Migration

Data migration can be performed at a time when organisations undergo a redesign of their system, or are going through a merger or takeover.  Often the migration happens to free up human resources by reducing mundane tasks.  However, there is another option, one that can be quickly deployed, significantly reduces costs and still helps the organisation build on what it already has.

Solutions for Data Migration & Time Saving Applications

The answer is Universal Knowledge, quick to deploy, cost effective and can fit within any CMS / CRM system, call handling and other applications.  Universal Knowledge is able to create knowledge bases by indexing an organization’s documents, created in Microsoft Office, Acrobat and HTML formats.  These documents may be located externally (intranet, web site or shared folder) or held and managed internally by Universal Knowledge’s Content and Document Management capabilities.  Users are granted access to appropriate knowledge bases, and given a security classification that controls the documents they can see within a knowledge base.

Ultimately, all of this means that you can leave your data where it is, but ensure that it is fully accessible, not only that you can even add to what you already have through Knowledge Powered Solution’s editing and revision features.

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Knowledge – The lifeblood of your organization

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How Long Does It Take to Implement a Knowledge Management System?

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