Your Knowledge Management Software is like a living room in a share house. Ideally, it should be useful, designed with the inhabitants in mind—a space where you feel at home and know that your needs will be met. A living room should always make life better.
Wondering what this has to do with Knowledge Governance? Stay with us and you’ll see.
You’ve recently refurbished your living room. It was in desperate need of an overhaul because mixed in with the valuable pieces were random items left behind by occupants over the years. Imperfectly arranged, you often couldn’t put your finger on exactly where that thing was that you needed. Hmmm!
This may be a share house, but some people obviously didn’t see the need to share. There were too many pillows and candles and not enough storage for things you didn’t particularly need out on display. There was an old VHS player and fashion magazines from the paleolithic era on the bookshelf, and a blower-vac hidden behind the couch (how did that even get there?!).
So now that you’ve carried out the careful refurbishment of your living room (or, in case we’re being too vague, your Knowledge Management Software), your main concern is how the inhabitants of your share house (your information users) are going to live with it. Will they try to add back random items where they don’t belong, move things out of place, or remove them from the living room altogether—never to be seen again?
That’s why your amazing new ‘living room’ needs good governance. It needs someone or several ‘someones’ to oversee house rules, to curate items that come in, to make sure that unused or outdated items get tossed out, and to archive those items that are too valuable to lose track of.
Like a living room, successful Knowledge Management Software depends on input and participation from all and a single, effective process for creating, developing, and managing knowledge. You want your KMS to be the single source of truth (SSoT), from which the best and latest information is available. Consistency ensures the continuity of quality experience and knowledge that you, as a business leader, as well as your customers and customer service agents, rely upon.
Setting up Knowledge Governance
Knowledge governance is a practical tool to ensure the success of your Knowledge Management Software. After all, if there’s no oversight and control, users will inevitably go back to what they’re most familiar with—their old, siloed filing systems and document management tool. It makes sense and provides consistency for the maintenance of knowledge across each team collection and has the flexibility to grow as your organisation grows.
So how do you set up optimal knowledge governance with all this in mind?
You’ve more than likely put some thought into this while developing your knowledge management strategy, well before you even started implementing the refurbishment of your knowledge management system. This is about the nitty gritty of ‘living’ with your new Knowledge Management Software.
There are four vital ingredients to guaranteeing the full and ongoing benefits from your Knowledge Management Software:
- Put together your Knowledge Management Team. (Who should this be? Read more below.)
- Define and formalise your knowledge guidelines. Your Knowledge Management Software is a living, evolving organism. It’s subject to verification, review cycles, and developments in human and capital resources. Hence, your guidelines are policies and procedures that must provide a strong framework for the use of the Knowledge Management Software and how to incorporate knowledge changes. This includes everything from correct formatting, editing, and writing, to initiating the next verification cycle and ensuring that content is both usable and searchable. This means that even your governance guidelines should be useable and searchable in the Knowledge Management Software by individuals in the Knowledge Management Team.
- Provide your continued and explicit support for the correct usage of the Knowledge Management Software. The effectiveness and ongoing use of a Knowledge Management Software is dependent on continual encouragement and the training process. Remind those asking questions to check their Knowledge Management Software before you hand over the answers. This is vital, because you will know that your Knowledge Management System is working for your organisation when other comms channels quieten down. Questions that were once asked should be answered by the Knowledge Management Software.
- Remain alert for old behaviours and redirect people to the correct use of the Knowledge Management Software. Going back to our living room metaphor, the key to keeping your Knowledge in great shape is identifying what led to the breakdown in the first place and remaining alert for old behaviours that creep back in. Is one of your ‘housemates’ starting to get lazy or does the arrangement of the ‘living room’ itself need tweaking? Fix issues before your customers and customer service agents lose trust in the Knowledge Management Software—and redirect them back to what they should be doing.
Who is in your Knowledge Management Team?
Your Knowledge Management Team consists of those using the system who are in formal or acting enablement capacities because they are subject matter experts for each channel. They are your chief advocates, providing help and advice to users of the Knowledge Management Software in their respective departments, and provide training wherever mastery gaps emerge.
Add to this group your ‘knowledge champions,’ that is HR, legal counsel, and IT staff, who provide technical expertise, troubleshoot issues, identify problems, and serve as a sounding board for those with ideas for improvement.
How many people do you need? Well, that’s a matter of organisation size. The bigger your organisation, the bigger this team should be, with some organisations even needing someone to lead. By the same token, smaller organisations may only have a ‘team’ of one; however, as you grow, you will need to add more people.
Roles and responsibilities
The Knowledge Governance Team will define, publish, and maintain the policies and procedures for the Knowledge Management Software.
There are two layers to assigning roles that you will need to consider:
- Administrative responsibility: Who ‘owns’ the knowledge or intellectual property, who verifies new content, who uploads new versions of existing content, who controls access to it, who says how it may be used and shared (including whether employees are allowed to share information outside of the organisation), who adds new users to the knowledge system, who makes decisions about what should be external facing information versus internally controlled information?
- User access: Which teams use the knowledge management system and what knowledge do they need, are there sub-teams that should have their own groups of knowledge internal to those teams, how much knowledge is shared between teams—is there product information that everyone needs to know, what happens when someone leaves the organisation, can people access information remotely?
- A Knowledge org chart (including where external knowledge users fit in) will prevent over-admission to your Knowledge Management Software, and present the most logical distribution of roles, permissions, and responsibilities for good knowledge governance.
Processes and workflows
Guidelines should outline processes and workflows and provide templates and corporate terminology for developing and implementing new content (consider a style guide), including the content approval process, version control, and user training. A regular review of these processes and workflows ensures that the best content gets to internal and external users every time and maintains consistency and high quality.
Soon after everyone is familiar with the new Knowledge Management Software, optimisation becomes a key business goal for your Knowledge Governance Team. Ask for feedback from contact centre agents. What do they like best about the new system? What challenges do they still face? What would counter those challenges?
Inbuilt reporting mechanisms also provide feedback about user engagement, and this adds to the broader picture:
- Suggestions: How many internal users are posting suggestions or questions, and at what frequency? Who are the people you can use to model platform use to others? Do you need to empower your agents more?
- Internal communication: Are other contact centre agents commenting, liking, and sharing suggestions? Are they familiar enough with the system to interact in informed ways? Which suggestions are getting the most comments, likes, and shares? This will tell you a lot.
- Reaction time: By checking how quickly other customer service agents react to a survey or comment on a platform, you can judge their level of engagement with the Knowledge Management Software. Resolution rates for customer questions also provide valuable information about the agents’ abilities and comfort levels with the system.
- Account activity: By checking how often people log in to the system and how many active licenses there are at any one time, also gives you vital feedback. If activity is dropping, this may indicate that users are finding the content difficult to navigate or your content is not relevant.
- Search performance: How often are internal and external users performing searches? Which keywords and search phrases are they optioning? This information provides insight into how the system and each platform within the system is being utilised. If a search term is ‘overused,’ does this mean that the information is difficult to find or inadequate for most queries?
Is Knowledge governance really working for you?
Much like a living room is the nerve centre for your home, your Knowledge Management Software is central to the operation of your organisation and should meet stakeholder needs.
This does not occur accidentally. It requires an intentional Knowledge governance framework aimed at optimising functionality and ensuring the implementation and continual refinement of best practice. The expertise of your Knowledge Governance Team, your governance strategy, your willingness to model correct usage, train people and communicate consistently, and the frequency of updates, feedback, and reports… all of this really matters.
Your Knowledge Management Software makes customer service more constructive, creative, and productive, but the question is, are you optimising this? Are you using it for continual improvement or are you limiting your own functionality?
If you are committed to great customer service and better business outcomes like we are, come and have a word with us.