Making the most of the knowledge available

In this series of blog posts, inspired by the new report we’ve published with the Service Desk Institute (SDI), I’ve been talking about why and how the service desk needs to evolve. Last time, I discussed the threats and opportunities posed by the recent escalation in shadow IT, and argued that making the most of resources was a prerequisite for tackling that challenge.

Now I want to look at making the most of your knowledge. A threat that virtually all service desk managers know and fear is that important knowledge may exist only in the heads of individual staff. When someone leaves or goes on vacation, crucial facts and know-how become unavailable to the rest of the team.

Shadow IT - discussed earlier in this series – and the way the service desk handles it also poses concerns over knowledge retention. Partly because of the tendency of business end-users to source and implement their own solutions, bypassing IT, a lot of important knowledge today resides with the users. If the service desk treats shadow IT as an illicit subculture, then the service desk team doesn’t have access to that knowledge. True, the users themselves will probably be recording some of their knowledge in the form of online discussions and exchanges of emails, but the records will be temporary, and probably only available to a subset of the user community.

Another challenge arises with IT environments becoming more complex with the increase of mobile working and team members being located anywhere in the world - finding the right answers and the expert insight to resolve customer issues is becoming increasingly difficult.

The idea of capturing experience and information in some kind of knowledge base is nothing new, but it has proved to be easier said than done; especially as documenting knowledge can be seen as an overhead for which busy analysts simply don’t have time,

As the SDI report recommends , the service desk team needs to acknowledge the value of users’ knowledge and become creative about finding ways to harness that knowledge for the general good; including taking advantage of new communication methods, and collaborative working practices.

In my next blog post I’ll focus on– people – and the issues involved in recruiting and retaining the right individuals.

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