Friday, July 18, 2008

Content Ownership And Role Of KM ...

We have been having this debate for a long time now ... Since the time of "KM 1.0" ... who owns the content that is being maintained on the KM systems. Of course, there are diverse points of view.

One point of view is that Knowledge Managers, by the very definition of the term, should manage all knowledge ... explicit of tacit. This implies that explicit knowledge too is the responsibility of these knowledge managers. Which means that Knowledge Managers should create content which is really high quality content, for consumption by the entire organization.

The other point of view is that knowledge managers are simply brokers. I was reading a blog some time back (tried looking, but ...) which quite sums up the way i look at things (almost!). This blog was mentioning that the essence of the role of Knowledge Managers in the organization is a sales role. I quite agree with that. Knowledge Sharing is an idea. And, this idea needs to be sold to the entire organization, so that the basic idea of sharing thoughts, experiences, indeed knowledge, over a period of time, can become one of the basic thought processes of the organization.

I prefer to take a slightly broader view, though. I believe that Knowledge Managers are essentially brokers. They need to be the salespeople ... selling the idea of knowledge creation and consumption to the organization, but at the same time, they also need to be sourcing professionals, making sure that the content is sourced according to the requirements of the consumers. From this perspective, i believe that the role of Knowledge Managers is essentially Content Management rather than creation in their capacity as content brokers. Or, in other words, facilitators! Lets look at it this way ... Knowledge Managers dont create content, and they dont consume content ... all they do is act as the bridge between the creators, and the consumers.


KMGuy said...

I agree with your assessment that the Knowledge Managers are “brokers” of the knowledge base. In addition, in most scenarios, they are not the creator of the Knowledge base content.

To become a successful Knowledge Manager, I believe that the Knowledge Manager needs too master two primary “roles” -

The role of a “Knowledge base Champion” – They manage the “change management” program/process which encourages the adoption of the Knowledge base by both internal and external audiences. In most situations, they would be encouraging the internal audience to create and reuse content. While the external audience, such as customers, would reuse the Knowledge base content. As the Knowledge base Champion, it is imperative that they encourage a collaborative environment of knowledge sharing between the internal and external audiences.

The role of a “Knowledge base Administrator” –

• The primary role of the Administrator is to maintain the integrity of the Knowledge base.

• They manage the access (security permissions) to the Knowledge base.

• They also create / maintain the content style guides or content templates, which enable the Knowledge base content to have a consistent “look & feel”.

• Using tools such as the search engine algorithm; metadata, data dictionaries etc. they manage the “find-ability” of the content that resides within the Knowledge base.

• Another task of the administrator is to manage the aspects of Knowledge base reporting. The reports will allow for the identification of Knowledge base content gaps, as well the capability to manage the feedback about the existing content.

• In addition, the administrator manages the reporting of Root Cause Analysis (RCA) – Why the content is being reused, and they attempt to discover corrective action that can be taking so the content would not be reused. Example: Symptom: I can’t print to the printer – Cause: The paper tray is empty. - Solution: Load paper into the paper tray. - Root Cause: The end-user did not know that the paper tray was empty; create an indicator on the printer to alert the end-user to reload the paper tray.

Atul said...

Quite agree with you. Though, i had a different interpretation of RCA ... this is a question a lot of Knowledge Managers struggle with, especially when they are looking at the question of content ... what are the things which keep users coming back to KM. This is an indicator of the value that users see in KM, but most of the times, we dont have any idea.

KMGuy said...

I work with clients that are using Knowledge Management within a contact center environment. The Knowledge base application is usually integrated with the client CRM application.

In addition, the diligence for the RCA is related to “knowledge articles” which are usually a subset of technical documentation, training guides etc. The knowledge articles are structured so that the unique cause is identified, and the knowledge article is associated with the related customer case / trouble ticket.

Why do “customers” return to the knowledge base? They find useful information that resolves their particular “pain point”. I like to use the analogy of a brick and mortar store – If I go into the grocery store and the store is not organized, is lacking products, or the products are past their expiration date I would leave the store, and I would not return. My experience is that customers who are accessing your online Knowledge base will assess the KB as they would assess a brick and mortar store. If they have a poor service experience, they will not return.

In the situation when you are providing technical support to a customer, and they cannot find their answer within a self-service environment, they will then be forced to contact a “live” company representative, their by increasing the cost per contact.

Within a “sales environment” if the customer is unable to find the answer to their question – they just click to the next company!

Atul said...

my point exactly ... the issue is that we cant really figure out what brings users to find value in KM.

interesting you should refer to the contact centre scenario ... searchability, to my mind, in addition to exhaustive content is the key, but then, the question is, how much is exhaustive.