Working with legacy data is a common and often frustrating issue to handle. This article will give you the knowledge needed to begin dealing with it effectively.
The definition of legacy data is that information stored in an old or obsolete format or computer system that is, therefore, difficult to access or process.
In my opinion, this is not only the definition of legacy data, but also often current data. My recommendation is to start with understanding the need of your organization to find the best possible solution for you. Read my popular blog article ‘How to motivate your employees to use their New Knowledge Tool’ for more information in what to look for and how to use it.
After purchasing your new business management software, you will find yourself with a great deal of data from your legacy software. This is the time to review your data and ensure that your new system will capture everything based on demand only.
1. Start with an empty Knowledge Base
A knowledge base is an invaluable resource for your customer, so why should you fill it with unnecessary, hard to find content from day one? Your knowledge base is the self-service component of your service offering that enables customers to solve their own problems. And customers that can find answers for themselves will create less incidents. The goal for self-service is having customer helping themselves with those easy-to-solve, repetitive issues. This will release time for your service organization so they can focus on solving new and often more complex problems.
If you choose to fill your new knowledge base with a vast amount of legacy content you are going to end up with a great deal of ‘spam’ content. I have found that when migrating all legacy data into the new knowledge base, organizations often ends up with on the most common problem; that their customer cannot find what they are looking for. Too much dated content the knowledge base creates a corrupted search motor.
2. Pull valuable ‘maintained’ content into new knowledge base on demand only
Assuming you are starting with an empty knowledge base, you can start structuring all content that is being added, making it searchable and findable for both customers and knowledge workers. Use the KCS template (issue, environment, resolution, cause & meta-data) when working with new knowledge. And absolutely do not make a huge project into restructuring all old content. You should only make this new and structured article when the demand is there for it.
“Consortium member experience shows that 90%-95% of what’s in the old legacy repository will never be referenced”.
With a demand-based process like KCS it does not take long before knowledge workers stop searching the legacy content. And the migration effort is only spent on the content that has value.
3. There are two types of legacy data to consider
Start with dividing legacy content into two groups before you make any further assessment. One for content that are being maintained and one for content that is not being maintained. Ask yourself questions like how was it collected, and is the business process still current? Do not put any effort into the content that has not been maintained, and place your attention into the maintained legacy content. Make sure to keep your legacy content in a separate repository. You do not want to ‘spam’ the search filer in your new knowledge tool.
4. All content must be searchable
Knowledge workers need to be taught the importance of searching the new knowledge base first, then focusing on searching the legacy repository. This need to happen at every service request. Coworkers may be working on a new article, and collaboration of new content is encouraged over duplicate rework. Solutions to new issues are only made once. If knowledge workers are using their new knowledge base as their first resource in seeking a solution to an issue, they will eliminate the very expensive (and pointless) rework. This is one of the key factors that contributes to the operational efficiency of KCS. All legacy content must be available and searchable for knowledge workers. This way only legacy content that is in demand will be getting the appropriate attention and updated into a structured, easy to use knowledge article.
5. Link to valuable maintained legacy data
To avoid duplicate content, make sure to link valuable maintained legacy content into your new knowledge article. Always keep in mind the purpose of the link, and ask yourself if it’s essential for the outcome. Furthermore, make sure to include a descriptive text in the article, in order to make it searchable and reusable. And remember, if a knowledge article includes links, the customer must have access to the linked content.
6. Training techniques for knowledge workers
If your old legacy repository allows you to create a list over the most popular or most viewed articles, use these lists to help improve the confidence in knowledge transfer among team members. Organize a KCS training workshop where knowledge workers get to rewrite the most frequently used content into new, structured articles. This is not only a great training technique, it also helps prepopulate your new knowledge base with valuable legacy content without disrupting findability.
Lena Stormvinge is a certified KCS Trainer and experienced Knowledge Advisor at ComAround with a long experience from Self-service, support and implementing cost-effective support solutions. She helps service desks achieve success with Knowledge Management and self-service tools. Lena has the highest level Knowledge Centered Service (KCS) certification, is a certified Help Desk Institute Professional as well as a Griffith University graduate.