What is knowledge management?

Knowledge management definition

Knowledge management is the process of gathering, analyzing, storing, and sharing knowledge that is created within an IT service desk. It is designed to assist service desk teams to make the right decisions throughout the service life cycle and the incident resolution process by efficiently controlling and handling the flow of information.

ITIL® 4 defines knowledge management as the one central process responsible for providing knowledge to all other IT service management (ITSM) processes. ITIL 4 lays the groundwork needed for integrating knowledge management with all other processes in the ITSM framework.

For instance, let us consider incident and problem management. is tightly bound with incident and problem management practices, as it manages the solutions and known errors databases, which play an integral role in finding the resolutions for the tickets raised.

Why is knowledge management important?

Knowledge management process

Every time an IT technician resolves a ticket, a new solution is created. Knowledge management is the practice of documenting these solutions and making them accessible to the technicians when needed. The lack of an established knowledge management process can have multiple adverse effects, from prolonged resolution times for simple issues to longer business downtimes during outages.

For example, a major outage in a web-performance company led to thousands of users facing a bad gateway error when trying to access multiple websites across the globe, causing prolonged business downtime for themselves and their customers. After hours of analysis, the team found that a web application firewall (WAF) upgrade led to its CPU usage spiking up, which caused this issue.

And the resolution was to reverse the WAF upgrade that led to the CPU spike. Unless the analysis, its details, and the resolution of this incident are documented, the IT team will have to reinvent the wheel every time they face a similar issue at the cost of many hours of business downtime.

Having a knowledge base with solutions to simple incidents and making them accessible to end users can promote the culture of self-service and DIY amongst end users, saving time for the IT service desk technicians.

For example with the sudden increase in the number of people working from home, there could be a sudden surge in the number of requests to configure VPN settings. The IT service desk team can save themselves from the tsunami of VPN requests by publishing an article about how users can configure VPN settings themselves. This would allow the IT service desks to focus on critical IT projects that can enable a productive remote work environment for the organization as a whole than just configuring VPNs for individual employees.

Knowledge management roles and responsibilities

Knowledge manager

Knowledge management roles are created to facilitate the continual service improvement (CSI) of procedures, metrics, policies, and documentation.

First, there are those that contribute articles. To build a knowledge repository, solutions articles are a must. Generally, when technicians resolve a ticket, they transcribe the steps they took as an article. Any subject matter expert or end user in the organization can create solution articles.

Once articles are submitted, the appropriate experts review and approve the articles. Upon approval, the knowledge manager publishes the article in the knowledge base. The role of these subject matter experts is to review and approve articles to maintain high quality solutions articles in the knowledge base.

The knowledge manager is a process owner with a deep understanding of knowledge management practices. The knowledge manager makes sure that the process of collecting, reviewing, approving, and grouping solution articles in the knowledge base is performed effectively.

For example:

A user raises a request in the service desk for information on how to remotely configure a VPN from home. If a knowledge article on VPN configuration is already available in the knowledge base, the user can follow the steps in the article and avoid raising a ticket altogether. The following are the roles involved in the life cycle of a knowledge article.

Article contributor:

This can be anyone in the service desk, including a technician or a subject matter expert. In this scenario, if a technician notices that many users request the same information on VPN configuration, the technician can write an article on VPN configuration and submit it for review.

Subject matter expert (SME):

Subject matter experts are those that have expertise and knowledge in their specific areas or departments. An SME will review and amend the submitted article as needed. If the article submitted meets the standards in terms of technical accuracy, language, and relevance, it will be approved. If not, it is rejected.

Knowledge manager:

The knowledge manager decides in which category approved articles will be published so that users can easily find the articles they need. The category "Remote work incidents" is chosen for this article on VPN connections. Once the article gets published, it gets tracked periodically to monitor its performance through reports to ensure the relevance of the content is maintained and its quality is improved when possible.

Boost your team's performance with effective IT service management (ITSM)

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