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“Transitioning to a Knowledge-Powered Service Desk”. Paul M. Dooley Principal – Optimal Connections, LLC Paul M. Dooley - Principal Optimal Connections, LLC. Founder and Principal at Optimal Connections, LLC Visit:

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“Transitioning to a Knowledge-Powered Service Desk”

Paul M. Dooley

Principal – Optimal Connections, LLC

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Paul M. Dooley - PrincipalOptimal Connections, LLC

  • Founder and Principal at Optimal Connections, LLC

  • Visit:

  • Based in So Cal., firm specializes in service desk and ITSM/ITIL training, assessments, and consulting in best-practices

  • 25+ years in service & support

  • IT Service Mgr, ITIL V3 Expert

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Caught Between a Rock and a Hard Place!

  • We were at a “cross-road” …

  • The Organization was to rolling out new technologies to our customerbase during the upcoming year

  • At the same time, the economy was in “recession” (sound familiar?)

  • Based on my staffing model, and the projected increased workload, I submitted a request with justification for 4 additional support analysts

  • To my chagrin, my management replied that ‘headcount’ was ‘frozen’, and that I would just have to cope!

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Hard Choices to Make!

  • Fortunately I had metrics and reporting in place that allowed me to show management what would be the consequences…

    • Staff that would steadily be overwhelmed with added workload

    • A decline in average response times and resolution times

    • Decreased staff satisfaction, which could then lead to loss of staff and reduced productivity

    • Decreased customer satisfaction with our performance, which could lead to loss of customers

  • Bottom line – we were looking at reduced performance levels relative to SLAs, and increased costs to deliver!

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Which Way Should We Go? …

  • I gave management three options to consider, backed by solid evidence over thepast year…

    • 1. We could maintain the same staff level, and take on the added work with no other changes; in this case we should expect declining performance and rising costs

    • 2. We could add the necessary headcount over the course of the year, as we had in the past – and maintain performance with the added workload (but more costs!)

    • 3. OR, we could move to a “new way of working”,a new support model

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The Move to “Solution Centered Support”

  • A new “knowledge management” support paradigm was being introduced to the industry, based on the proposition that …

    • The key output of a support center was “solutions”

    • That many support center and help desks were ignoring this fact, and continuing to resolve the same solution over and over

    • Thus support analysts were not empowered, not equipped, and not performing optimally!

    • Bottom line: higher costs, lower productivity, lower customer and employee satisfaction!

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The Move to “Solution Centered Support”

  • We analyzed our reports over that past year, and indeed, we had been solving many issues over and over …incidents that customers could have resolved!

    • Simple ‘how to’ questions

    • Solutions to minor incidents

  • Customers had no access to solutions to simple incidents and requests

    • Thus we were not empowering them

    • And we were continuing to waste time on resolving simple issues, not realizing our potential

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The Move to “Solution Centered Support”

Baseline Measurements we took a look at to examine where we were on a ‘Balanced Scorecard’ of results

  • Financial/productivity Measurements

    • Incident volume: high

    • Types of incidents: many relatively simple

    • Average cost per incident: high

    • First Contact Resolution (FCR) rate: low

  • Customer & Employee Satisfaction

    • Customer & staff satisfaction level: low

  • Organizational Maturity Measurements

    • Time to proficiency for new staff members: months

    • Quality of existing solutions: poor

    • Time to publish and share solutions: almost never

    • Ratio of new/known incidents: most “new”

    • Existing level of self-service: practically zero

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The Move to “Solution Centered Support”

  • Imagine: what if we could capture solutions “as we worked”!

    • Making these available immediatelyfor re-use across the team, AND empower customers with solutions!

  • The challenge:

    • We would have to move to a “new way of working”

    • A new support culture that realized knowledge management was central to success

  • We decided we would transition our support center

    • From a “traditional” phone centric model

    • To a multi-channel, knowledge-powered support model!

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Making the Business Case to Management

  • A business case was put together for management to consider

    • The three options were spelled out:

      • Option A: Doing nothing, and adding the additional load – with the resultant dire consequences

      • Option B: Adding 4 additional headcount thru next year, with the unwanted incremental expense

      • Option C: Transition to a new support model – “Solution Centered Support” (now referred to as KCS)

    • Option C made the most business sense

      • There would be incremental investment, but the cost/benefit analysis and ROI showed this was it!

      • Mgt approved, and we were off on the quest!

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The Results Exceeded Expectations!

  • We implemented a two-phase internal/external roll-out over 18 months, incorporating the new “knowledge centered” approach into everything we did!

    • Our core processes

    • Our support systems

    • Our very culture

  • At 12 months, the support team wassuccessfully searching solutions, or creating new ones

  • The new model was adopted across all our teams - L1,2 and 3. Analysts were enthusiastic, as it made their job easier and vastly more effective!

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The Results Exceeded Expectations!

  • Satisfaction rose, average resolution times dropped, productivity per analyst increased, and customers were all the happier!

  • During the next 6 months we rolled access out to users through an integration to our web portal

    • Empowering customers

    • Reducing the level of simple incidents

    • Further boosting customer satisfaction!

    • Further reducing costs

    • Allows support analysts to reduce backlog and be more proactive

  • Year after year, this support center has continued to realize high ROI

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So …What Do We Mean by “Knowledge-Powered” Support?

  • Leveraging the power of collectiveexperience & expertise to …

    • Solve it once, then reuse it – workingsmarter, not harder

    • Reduce average resolutions time through the reuse of accurate, proven solutions

    • Thus reducing costs of operation, boosting productivity

    • Increase the accuracy of answers and solutions presented

    • Increase consistency in the quality of solutions provided

    • Empower staff to be more effective

    • Equip new support staff to come up to speed quickly

    • Empowering customers to solve the simple issues themselves, thus raising customer satisfaction and ability

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Why Is Leveraging Knowledge Especially Important Now?

  • Today the pressure is on to reduce costs, while maintaining quality and increasing customer satisfaction!

    • We have keener competition nationally, globally

    • IT must be an asset to the business

  • What is a key source of higher costs?

    • Lack of effective management of collective knowledge

    • Solving the same problem over and over

      • Inconsistently, inaccurately

      • Resulting in more labor than necessary applied to the service delivery process

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In a Knowledge-Powered Service Desk

  • In a Knowledge-Powered Support Center, you are always doing one of two things:

    • Either re-using previously captured solutions

    • or

    • Capturing and contributing new solutions

  • It is a closed loop, continuous process with measurements and quality assurance built in

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What Knowledge Management is, and is Not

  • Because of our “tool-centered” mentality in IT, we are often caught in the trap of thinking that buying a tool will be the solution, “the silver bullet”

  • “A fool with a tool is still a fool”

  • Knowledge Management is not a “tool”!

    • A database

    • A Wiki

    • A FAQs list

    • A web site

    • A person

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True Knowledge Management is …

  • A PROCESS, not a tool or database

  • The tool or technology is the enablingfactor

  • True Knowledge Management is not added on, but is ‘built in’ to everythingthat you do

    • It becomes a part of “just the way you work”

  • A part of your culture

  • May be driven by a team, but the responsibility of everyone in the support center!

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So Why Aren’t All Support Centers Knowledge-Driven???

  • They are still operating on reactive models that capture ticket information, but not ‘solutions’

  • They are too command & control driven, as opposed to being knowledge enabled and process driven

  • They are operating on the ‘assisted’ model, instead of on a ‘community’ model

    • Where customer self-service plays a complimentary role to the support center

    • Where online communities operate

    • Where customers are a ‘partner’ to thesupport center

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9 Pitfalls to Avoid, or What NOT to Do!

  • How to NOT be successful at implementing a Knowledge-Powered Service Desk

    • 1. Approach the implementation as a tool or a database (“a fool with a tool is still a fool”) rather than as a process

    • 2. Make it the responsibility of one person – the “knowledge manager” (it thereby becomes no one else’s responsibility)

    • 3. Don’t integrate it with your processes, procedures, and systems – try to “add it on” as an optional, extra step and get people to participate

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Pitfalls to Avoid or What NOT to Do!

  • 4. Don’t document its use as part of peoples jobs – make it optional

  • 5. Don’t establish goals for adding knowledge to your KB – just assume people will cooperate

  • 6. Don’t incentivize people either

  • 7. Forget about establishing metrics for KM and assessing your performance against these targets

  • 8. Ignore a QA step – just add the knowledge in without review and publish it

  • 9. Don’t market and promote it internally & externally (“just build it and they will come”)

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So What ARE the 6 Keys to Success???

  • 1. Approach it as a process – nota tool!

  • 2. Establish a business case

  • 3. Set expectations for major change

  • 4. Implement the new support model as a project,employing Project Management best-practices

  • 5. Don’t ‘add it on’, build it in to everything you do – your very culture

  • 6. Keep it going with Continual Improvement

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Keys to Success:1. Approach it as a Process (not a Tool!)

  • Approach it as the implementationof a “foundational” process

  • Achange in Culture

    • Not just in process and tools

    • A change in mindset

    • The way work is conducted

  • Know that moving to a Knowledge-Powered Support Centerwill take time – not days or week, but months and years

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Keys to Success: 2. Develop a Clear Business Case!

  • Build a clear business case

    • Document current situation and solution

    • Impact: cost savings, productivity and customer satisfaction improvements

    • The solution – key elements: people, process, technology

    • Measurements, deliverables, timeline

  • Capture existing baselines to compare with later!

    • Performance – avg resolution time, FCR rate

    • Customer satisfaction level

    • Staff satisfaction level, retention rates

    • Most importantly, net this out to bottom line costs $$

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Keys to Success:3. Set Expectations for a Major Change

  • Let support center staff know this is a change in the way you will operate

  • Let them know WHY, and WIIFM!

    • Eventually making their job easier, more fun, and rewarding

    • Customers will be happier, and the center will be more productive and cost-effective

  • It will not be optional but expected

  • It will eventually be integrated into everything that you do over time

  • Everyone will have a role to play

  • Secure high level management support (key!)

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Keys to Success:4. Implement it as a Project

  • Approach it as a project, leveraging Project Management disciplines and tools

    • Appoint a strong project mgt. lead

    • Leadership and communication skills

  • Form a cross-functional team from the organization

    • Draw in other groups so they feel a part of this

  • Secure executive sponsorship to manage up!

  • Leverage PM best-practices to manage project effectively and deliver promised results

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Keys to Success:5. “Build it In” to Everything You Do!

  • As opposed to making it one person or a small team’s responsibility, build it into the very fabric of your support center culture

  • Yes, you should have a focal point for the process, but ultimately you want everyone to feel they are a part of Knowledge Management

  • This includes:

    • Support Center Leadership

    • Policies and procedures documentation

    • Core processes: Incident Mgt, Problem Mgt

    • Tools and supporting systems

    • Metrics and reporting systems

    • QA processes

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Keys to Success:5. “Build it In to …”

  • Your Leadership and Management

    • Supportive Management is critical!

  • Your Standard Procedures

    • This is not optional, or an extra step

    • Integrate search, capture and QAprocess steps into Incident & ProblemMgt documentation

    • Document what you mean by a ‘quality solution’

      • With symptom, cause, solution, steps & links

      • Implement Ticket Monitoring” to enforce consistency

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Keys to Success:5. “Build it in to …”

  • Your Service Management System

    • Integrate it, so its no “extra step”

      • Search, capture, re-use just happens

    • Suggested solutions should appear proactively, in order of relevance

    • Make sure your integrated KMS tool is fast and efficient

      • Repository, structure, and search tool all play a role

      • Must be easy to use (Google is the standard!)

    • The search engine and interface should provide for free form, natural language query

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Keys to Success:5. “Build it in to …”

  • Your People Management Systems

    • Job descriptions

      • Capturing and re-using solutions is a responsibility of all team members

      • Senior Analysts assigned a SME role

    • Reward and Recognition Program

      • Recognize and reward people for going above & beyond in contributing the KM process

    • Quality Assurance Processes

      • Ticket monitoring, to ensure structured solutions captured

    • Operating Level Agreements (OLA) between groups

      • To ensure all support teams participate

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Keys to Success:5. “Build it in to …”

  • Your Metrics and Reporting

    • Financial/productivity Measurements

      • Incident volume: should decrease

      • Types of incidents: will become more complex

      • Average cost per incident: will increase initially, then should decline over time

      • First Contact Resolution (FCR) rate: at first decline, then should improve

    • Customer Satisfaction Measurements

      • Customer satisfaction level: should rise!

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Keys to Success:5. “Build it in to …”

  • Your Metrics and Reporting (Con’t)

    • Employee Satisfaction Measurements

      • Employee (staff) satisfaction level: should increase

    • Organizational Maturity Measurements

      • Time to proficiency for new staff: should drop

      • Quality and accuracy of solutions: should increase

      • Time to publish and share solutions: should decrease

      • Ratio of new/known incidents: should decline

      • Level of self-service: should grow over time

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Keys to Success:5. Build it in to…”

  • Knowledge Monitoring: include KM KPIs

    • Solution quality index

    • Number of solutions per period, by Analyst and Type

    • % growth of KB per period (is it growing per our expectation?)

    • % solutions re-used per period (should be increasing, indicating valuable solutions are being added)

    • % success rate per KB visit (should be increasing, showing increased quality of solution relative to need – target is > 50%)

    • Customer satisfaction level with solution quality (through an on-going survey process)

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Keys to Success:5. Build it in to …”

  • Quality Assurance processes

    • Integrate QA step in solution capture: designated SME review and checkbefore adding to the KB

      • Leverage Senior Analysts as SMEs

      • To review and assure on-going quality solutions

    • Establish a periodic auditing of the KMS repository to assure

      • Accuracy, completeness, and currency

      • Provide for archiving any “obsolete knowledge”

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Keys to Success:6. Keep it Going with Continual Improvement

  • Maintain an on-going KM cross-functional team, with a designated process owner/manager

  • Incorporate KM metrics into daily, weekly, quarterly and annual reporting

    • Publish favorable impact on Balanced Scorecard performance metrics!

    • Look for opportunities to improve

  • Assess impact on KPIs in all four BSC quadrants

  • Translate KPIs to business ROI and $$ benefits

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Knowledge-Powered SupportIn Summary…

  • There is nothing more powerful you can do than incorporate Knowledge Management into your support!

  • It favorably impacts all four quadrants of a “Balanced Scorecard” of performance

  • The engine that will enable your support center to deliver high value to stakeholders – customers, staff, and the organization

  • Follow these steps, “build it in”, and your Support Center will be more productive and cost-effective

  • Plus – it makes work more fun!

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Resources for More Information!

  • Consortium for Service Innovation


    • Creators of the KCS Best-Practice

    • White Papers, Case Studies, and more!



    • ITSM/ITIL publications referencing Knowledge Management best-practices

  • HDI

    • Training on KCS - “Knowledge-Centered Support”

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Thank You!

Contact details:

Paul M. Dooley

PrincipalOptimal Connections, LLCWeb: www.optimalconnections.comEmail:

Ph: +1 949-305-3544