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Consolidate Knowledge Base Articles from Multiple Departments in 5 Steps

After adopting foundational practices of knowledge management many organizations aim to expand this practice outside of IT. While comprehensive knowledge management is an effective way to connect employees to solutions from multiple departments, maintenance can be a major challenge. This post will dive a little deeper into how to consolidate knowledge base articles from multiple departments.

Step 1: Define your goals

Before you begin consolidating knowledge base articles or even creating them, you should first define goals for your knowledge management strategy. Do you want to encourage self-service? Are you needing to keep records of easy ways to fulfill requests or resolve incidents? Maybe you’re looking to cross-promote resources from different departments (the primary reason for this post). An organization with mature knowledge management will likely use a combination of all of these. Take the shift to more permanent remote work for example. This might mean providing new applications for sales, marketing, or other areas of the business. It might include security protocols or changes to communication that impact employees from every department. In this case, the goal should be to create knowledge articles that support those changes, and to make them easily accessible to people who may have questions about this new technology. Clearly defined goals can make the difference between 20-30 articles that address frequently asked questions or incident requests, or hundreds of duplicate articles that can cause confusion or limit their value.

Step 2: Assess your current knowledge management practice

After defining your goals, ask how your current strategy is addressing them. Let’s give a few hypotheticals:
  • If your goal is to encourage self-service, are you pointing employees in the direction to troubleshoot their own issues? This may involve tagging articles with metadata so solutions are easily searchable.
  • If your goal is to keep record of all the resources available in your organization, are your articles organized and labeled correctly? Separating articles into subsections or by department helps employees locate them without opening tons of articles to find a specific one.
  • If your goal is to combine resources from different departments, sift through articles that are relevant to each other. If multiple applications are all tied to a single sign-on provider, there’s no need to muddle the knowledge base with articles for each individual application.
In the example above, we talk about supporting releases through knowledge articles. For that particular goal, it makes sense to look critically at technology release processes. If necessary, add knowledge creation to the official release plan. Assessing your knowledge management strategy means identifying the gaps that exist and finding ways to fill them.

Step 3: Designate a technician to manage the knowledge base

Having too many hands in the pot can stifle effective knowledge management. Ideally, you want no more than two people to have oversight of the knowledge base, even if broader participation is expected. IT pros that are familiar with each department and can dedicate time to manage the knowledge base can help organize and consolidate articles across departments. Limit the ability to create solution articles automatically to a designated group of support technicians.  Other team members can still create drafts and submit them for review, but this enables greater visibility for managers to reduce duplication. One SolarWinds customer noted this “divide and conquer” strategy has helped his team overcome the monotonous task of reviewing tons of articles in one sitting. Depending on the size of the organization and overall need (and available budget), hiring a full-time knowledge manager could also be a good move.

Step 4: Combine similar articles or delete duplicates

When you have a few minutes, open your knowledge base and begin typing in keywords, like “need access,” “update,” and “can’t login.” If there are multiple articles with the same information, you might consider combining important pieces from each article into one or delete the oldest duplicate. Establish a regular cadence for reevaluating what articles are in the knowledge base and measure their effectiveness by tracking the number of clicks a given article receives in a certain amount of time.

Step 5: Create an automated routine

Make managing the knowledge base easier on yourself. Automate the creation of unique, as in the content doesn’t already exist, articles after an incident ticket is submitted. Let’s break this down:
  1. An employee submits a ticket asking for a persistent pop-up to be removed
  2. The details about what the pop-up is, what might trigger it, how often it pops up, solutions, etc. are added to the document
  3. The knowledge base draft is then sent to designated IT pros for review and approval
Adding these steps in addition to your regular knowledge base maintenance schedule should make for a well-organized, succinct repository. Knowledge management will continue to earn its place in the business this year, and with employees more geographically dispersed than ever before, the knowledge base will come in handy to answer important questions that are useful for every business unit.
Kelli Buchanan
Kelli is a Senior On-boarding Specialist, ITSM at SolarWinds. She works with customers of all industries and sizes to customize the service desk experience for…
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