The traditional viewpoint that every article created should be perfect has no connection to how we consume and process information. Support organizations that realize it’s impossible to create perfect knowledge articles will succeed with knowledge management. Successful support organizations develop methods for the early identification of new issues, and they create effective articles that resolve the new issues.
When we work with support, and particularly with self-service support, time becomes an increasingly important factor to consider. Updated knowledge articles generally remain relevant for a brief time. There are always new systems, technology, and processes being developed that result in better ways of working. The dramatic increase in technological development for the work environment is something we have never seen before.
Surveys show that a knowledge article today has an average lifespan of 60-90 days. Articles can retain their value after 90 days, but only when a clear need exists. Knowing this, it is very important not to spend too much time creating perfect knowledge articles for self-service. It is more important to set up a process where we quickly create new knowledge articles as soon as the need arises.
Just in time vs Just in case
“Just in time” vs “just in case” is a heavily used term in the knowledge methodology KCS (Knowledge Centered Support). It highlights the importance of the time it takes to create new articles on demand versus working proactively creating articles that MIGHT be needed.
Surveys show that as much as 80 percent of all documentation we create in the company is never even used once.
Knowing this, it is easy to understand that we should not demand perfection, but rather aim for “good enough”.
Why have we been so focused on high quality and extensively edited knowledge articles? One reason is that we originally used technical documentation and product descriptions for support material and support manuals. Technical product documentation, as a rule, has a longer lifespan and must be perfect every time. It is often for both financial and legal reasons that organizations place specific requirements for creating perfect content for those types of documents.
Let the goal create the right priorities
When we create knowledge articles in a support organization our primary goal is to successfully resolve our customers’ problems so they can quickly continue working productively. That goal can be achieved if we provide knowledge articles that are good enough to help the employees solve their problem. It is time to begin to establish a process for creating “good enough” articles versus creating very high quality, or perfect knowledge articles. In addition, we need to view knowledge as something that is never complete and that is constantly evolving to meet the needs of the users.
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Per Strand, CEO and Founder, ComAround