Any company — no matter how large or small — stores an incredible amount of information, data, and knowledge. Each employee and executive has their own individual skill set, characteristics, and expertise. Taken together, that’s a store of extremely valuable information, which ( handled correctly) pays big dividends.

What is knowledge management?

First and foremost, knowledge management is a process. It’s collecting, identifying, creating, organizing, curating, storing, and sharing information, knowledge, and data within a company. 

Organizations around the globe apply the ITIL knowledge management process to gather and manage company data. 

They then use this data to improve accessibility and eliminate duplication in the knowledge-finding process. And because part of knowledge management is maintaining databases of known mistakes and solutions (crucial to resolving tickets raised), it’s closely linked to incident and issue management techniques.

Three types of knowledge management are:

  1. Tacit knowledge
    Based on experience, practice, and intuition, tacit knowledge includes things like recognizing faces, speaking a different language, or having good leadership skills. This type of knowledge is a great asset to any team. But it presents a challenge when implementing knowledge management systems, because this type of knowledge lives exclusively in our brains. You can’t store it externally, and it’s difficult to transfer. Just putting this internal knowledge into words can be hard!
  1. Implicit knowledge
    You gain implicit knowledge through practice, processes, and learning. It’s the information you learn through experience, like the steps you must take to carry out a certain activity, as well as the “how” behind it. Practical knowledge, if you will. Examples of implicit knowledge include walking or riding a bike.
  2. Explicit knowledge
    In contrast to tacit knowledge, explicit knowledge is easy to describe and transfer between people. You can share and communicate explicit knowledge as data, scientific equations, etc. Some examples include reports, statements, databases, manuals, articles, case studies, and other materials, which are communicated using language.

From here, you can classify the types of knowledge, expertise, and skills your employees have. This will enable you to manage the different types of knowledge within your company more efficiently. When implemented correctly, knowledge management promotes creativity, generates value, and makes it simpler to accomplish targets. 

Once you have a handle on the types of information, take a look at your assets. You’ve inventoried the skills, information, and data, now what assets do you have and how do you manage them? ITAM — short for Information Technology Asset Management — helps you keep track of technological assets, so you can minimize cybersecurity risks, and comply with any applicable regulations.

What is knowledge management in ITSM?

“Knowledge management is a whole lifecycle-wide process in that it is relevant to all lifecycle stages and hence is referenced throughout ITIL from the perspective of each publication”

— ITIL 2011 statement

Now for a bit more detail:

  • ITIL (Information Technology Infrastructure Library) connects IT with the company and offers services to its clients. 
  • ITSM (Information Technology Service Management), on the other hand, is used to plan and manage system improvements to make the business successful.
  • The best practices of ITSM are taught by ITIL. 

ITIL 4 rearranges the classic ITIL framework to place a stronger emphasis on value, cost, and risk. It’s the primary process for supplying information to all other IT service management (ITSM) activities. ITIL is the foundation for integrating knowledge management with all other activities in the ITSM framework laid out in ITIL 4.

ITIL knowledge management is a crucial tool for IT teams trying to improve productivity and efficiency. It offers a standardized framework to assist teams in locating, documenting, and reviewing relevant data on the supply of services, including best practices and processes. 

What can you achieve with knowledge management at your organization?

“Knowledge management aims to ensure that stakeholders get the right information, in the proper format, at the right level, and at the correct time, according to their access level and other relevant policies. This requires a procedure for the acquisition of knowledge, including the development, capturing, and harvesting of unstructured knowledge, whether it is formal and documented or informal and tacit knowledge.”  

— ITIL 4 on knowledge management

You can use a knowledge management system (KMS) to improve operational effectiveness. A knowledge base can support these systems. Knowledge bases play a key role in effective knowledge management because they provide a central location you can use to store information and make it accessible.

It’s a great way to onboard employees, distribute daily tasks, or input a self-serve customer service option. 

But in order to maintain a successful knowledge management strategy, you must keep in mind that it’s a process. You’ll need to constantly incorporate new materials and remove outdated information. 

What are some of the best practices to build a successful knowledge management strategy?

  • Support and reward knowledge sharing between teams. 
  • Communicate openly.
  • Assess your company’s current situation.
  • Acknowledge your goals and objectives.
  • Identify the most important functionalities of your knowledge management system.

To become genuinely ready for anything, your IT service department must continually provide exceptional service in many areas. The tips above are just some of the practices worth integrating. If you’re looking for ways to supercharge your service desk, take a look at our guide:

Get 'The ultimate guide to powering up your service desk' from Appfire

Implementing a new solution or new apps always involves some risk. In the context of knowledge management, a bit of advice:

  • You can’t accurately measure knowledge itself. But, if you’re looking for ways to measure the success of your knowledge management strategy, you can calculate the percentage of reactions to incident management tickets that mention the Service Knowledge Management System (SKMS), measure records in the database of known errors, or track customer activities in the SKMS.
  • Be aware of Shadow IT. Any new resources and assets or any transfer of data pose a potential risk.

What are the benefits of knowledge management in ITSM?

The most beneficial aspects of knowledge management include innovation, efficiency, motivation, and creating value. Other benefits include: 

  • Improved management decision-making
    Because everyone is well-informed and plenty of data is easily accessible, the decision-making process becomes faster, more trustworthy, and more effective. 
  • Increased collaboration of teams and people within the organization
    Every employee has a different set of skills. Knowledge management capitalizes on this knowledge by making it possible for employees to share what they know with others. It’s a way of exchanging information, as well as an opportunity for team members to learn and grow. 
  • Reduced time-to-market
    Your company can use the different aspects of information to optimize processes, reducing time-to-market. 
  • Lower costs
    The ability to improve, redesign, alter, and optimize processes and tasks gives you the chance to find new (and cheaper) solutions. 
  • Greater focus on growth
    No one person within a company knows everything about how things get done. But enabling employees to tap into other people’s knowledge and experience helps them to grow, learn, and perform better.
  • Identifying skill gaps
    Discovering and identifying skill gaps can inspire you to create new structures, hire essential new employees, or redistribute work according to each team member’s skill set. 
  • Increased innovation
    Having a group of people with different skills and abilities increases innovation. New ideas, brainstorming sessions, and collaboration opportunities are all great for exchanging knowledge and boosting innovation at your company. 
  • Reduced errors
    Documenting available skill sets and using that knowledge to redistribute work increases efficiency and reduces errors.  
  • Reaching goals
    With knowledge management in place, team members know who to turn to for specific information. This increases collaboration and helps your team to achieve goals more quickly.
Guide: Modernize your ITSM with streamlined change management.

ITSM knowledge management processes

Implementing ITSM knowledge management processes takes some planning, but it’s well worth the effort. There are four steps in setting up knowledge management: 

  1. Knowledge creation or knowledge acquisition
    Start by organizing, identifying, and documenting any existing data and information. But also make note of any gaps: new pieces of information that you’d like to add to the repository so you can share it across the organization. 
  1. Knowledge storage 
    Once you have all the important information gathered and curated, you have to store it. Usually, you use an information technology system so your information is easy to access and share.
  1. Knowledge sharing and distribution
    Once you’re ready to share the gathered knowledge across the whole organization, let people know! There’s not much use in having a knowledge management system if no one…well…knows about it.
  1. Use of knowledge
    You’ve gathered and organized the information. Now use it. Direct new hires to your knowledge base. Use it for on-boarding. Support. Troubleshooting. Professional development. Use it to provide consistent, high-quality IT service to your clients and customers. The possibilities are endless. 

The process of knowledge management can improve operations across your organization: HR, IT, customer support, legal, sales, finance, marketing, and more. Knowledge management provides end-user independence via a service portal, boosts service desk productivity by enabling quicker incident and request resolution, level-sets your team by having experienced team members share experiences with new ones, and more.

But keep it updated. Maintaining your knowledge base is as important as setting it up properly in the first place. The right apps make it easy.

Appfire knowledge management solutions

Setting up knowledge management at your company doesn’t have to be a hassle. There are tools that can help, including Jira IT Service Management Apps, document management apps, and more. If you’re looking for an app to help with versioning and approvals, take a peek at Comala Document Management. This app can revolutionize your document management in Confluence. 

However you do it and whichever tools you use, knowledge management is a valuable investment in your organization’s future success. That’s knowledge you can take to the bank!

Last updated: 2023-07-31

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