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How to Build and Maintain an ITSM Knowledge Base

• 26 Jul 2023

What is a knowledge base?

A knowledge base is a centralised repository of information that is organised and structured in a way that makes it easy to find and access. It can be used to store and manage a wide range of information, including documentation, best practices, procedures, and other knowledge assets.

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A knowledge base is typically created to support a specific purpose, such as providing customer support, facilitating employee training, or documenting internal processes. It can be accessed by a variety of stakeholders, including employees, customers, partners, and other users.

In addition to storing information, a knowledge base may also include features such as search capabilities, user feedback mechanisms, and analytics tools to help users find and use the information they need. Overall, a knowledge base is a valuable tool for organisations that want to manage and share information more effectively, improve productivity and efficiency, and provide better support and services to their stakeholders.

What are the benefits of building an ITSM knowledge base?

A good knowledge base serves as a single source of information and can empower your customers to help themselves. This will free up time for your support staff and has the added benefits of:

  • Increased efficiency: An ITSM knowledge base can help IT service teams to work more efficiently by providing them with quick access to relevant information and resources. This can help to reduce the time and effort required to resolve incidents and fulfil service requests, which can increase productivity and reduce costs.
  • Onboarding and Training: A well-structured knowledge base is an invaluable resource during employee onboarding and training. New team members can refer to the knowledge base to learn about the organisation's IT environment, processes, tools, and common issues.
  • Knowledge retention: By capturing and retaining knowledge within an organisation, a knowledge base helps to ensure that critical information and expertise are not lost when employees leave or move to other roles.
  • Metrics and Analytics: A well-managed knowledge base can provide insights into usage patterns, popular search queries, and frequently accessed articles. By analysing these metrics, organisations can identify areas where additional documentation or training may be needed, address common pain points, and optimise the knowledge base to better serve the needs of users.

Investing the necessary time to implement a knowledge base provides substantial benefits both internally and externally.

Building your Knowledge Base

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Building a knowledge base requires careful planning, organisation, and ongoing maintenance to ensure that it remains a valuable resource for users.

Here are some suggested steps required to build a knowledge base:

Step 1: Define the purpose and scope of the knowledge base

The first step in building a knowledge base is to determine the purpose and scope of the project. You will need to identify:

  • the target audience,
  • the type of information to be included,
  • and the key goals and objectives of the project.

Step 2: Identify the information to be included

Once you have defined the purpose and scope of the knowledge base, the next step is to identify the specific information to be included.

The types of information that can be placed in an ITSM knowledge base can include:

  • FAQs
  • How-to articles or videos
  • Whitepapers
  • Standard operating procedures (SOPs)
  • Workflows
  • Glossaries
  • Case studies
  • Service level agreements (SLAs)
  • Troubleshooting guides

Identifying the right topics for inclusion may involve reviewing existing documentation, conducting interviews with subject matter experts, or gathering user feedback.

The easiest way to get started is to look for the most commonly occurring issues - the “low hanging fruit” - that represents on average about 80% of your total tickets logged to support.

Compose articles that will support this 80% first. By following the 80/20 rule, you can realise instant benefits whilst you refine and prepare more knowledge articles to bolster your knowledge base.

Step 3: Organise the information

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This might entail creating a hierarchy of topics and subtopics, using tags or keywords to categorise information, or developing a search function that allows users to find information quickly.

Step 4: Develop a content strategy

This includes assigning ownership of specific topics or sections to individuals or teams, establishing a process for reviewing and updating information on a regular basis, and incorporating user feedback to identify areas for improvement.

Step 5: Choose a knowledge base software

Choose a software solution that fits the needs of your organisation and the goals of the project.

Alemba Service Manager Logo

Find out how Alemba Service Manager can help your business with a centralised repository that can be automatically populated from day-to-day work of the service delivery teams, while simultaneously supporting them to assist IT’s customers.

Step 6: Set up

Create your knowledge layout templates, configure your access permissions with role-based security based on your defined user roles and groups.

Step 7: Populate

You will need to create new content, import existing content, or migrate content from another platform.

It's essential to have a knowledge repository with trusted, high-quality content. Ensuring documentation is unbiased and logically structured will be vital for both analysts and customers to be able to comprehend and use the knowledge.

Step 8: Test and refine

Ensuring the accuracy and relevance of the knowledge base through regular quality checks is crucial. After all, if the knowledge base isn't kept up-to-date, your customers will be unable to find the answers they require.

Additionally, soliciting feedback from users to identify areas for improvement is best practice.

Step 9: Promote the knowledge base

Finally, promote the knowledge base to your target audience to ensure that it is widely adopted and used. This may involve creating user guides, providing training and support, or incorporating the knowledge base into other systems or platforms to increase visibility and accessibility.

Knowledge base best practices

Your knowledge base should:

  1. Be easily accessible
  2. Be organised and easy to navigate
  3. Solve common problems
  4. Save a customer or agent time
  5. Be up to date
  6. Provide relevant content in a way that will resonate with your customer

By following these best practices, organisations can build a knowledge base that is effective, efficient, and user-friendly. This can lead to improved customer satisfaction, increased productivity, and better decision-making across the organization.

How to maintain your knowledge base

It is often the case that in the beginning, there is a great deal of enthusiasm around setting up a knowledge base as excitement over the benefits builds.

However, it can sometimes be difficult to maintain a repository due to the sheer size of information or the lack of time that employees have available and the enthusiasm begins to wane. Here are some tips and tricks on how to maintain your knowledge base and keep it up-to-date.

  • Set articles to expire no more frequently than annually. The longer the space between reviews you can make, the better.
  • Incentivise contributors and editors to review or update at least 2 articles per week.
  • Rotate editor duties so that everyone has a chance to participate and take ownership of the quality and content.
  • Encourage users to provide feedback on the content, such as suggesting improvements or pointing out errors. This feedback can help to identify areas that need updating and improve the overall quality of the knowledge base.

Find out more about Knowledge Management and building a knowledge base with this useful model and case study.

For best practice tips on how to write effective knowledge base articles, please see Part 2 of the Knowledge Management series.