Knowledge may indeed be power, but at the service desk it tends to lose potency whenever it isn’t documented and shared with the agents wishing to apply it in an IT support context. All too often, though, when troubleshooting steps are second nature to a particular agent or on site technician, that’s exactly what happens. The granular aspects of what that individual does goes undocumented and undermines the opportunity for others to replicate those resolutions. Effective Knowledge Management means every scrap of support data is captured, stored, and disseminated for future use. Even the most intuitive of steps must be spelled out in the Knowledge Base Articles and made accessible to all service desk personnel. Whether the articles are being read by the most technical of IT Directors or by a novice end user via a self-help portal, nothing should be left to chance. Like a kit of paint by numbers, a useful KBA makes no assumptions about the reader’s skill level and walks them through the resolution process one step at a time.
So how are Knowledge Base Articles created in the first place? During a new service desk implementation process, the Team Lead initiates the documentation processes based on data collection from the various client support groups or Subject Matter Experts and compiles current knowledge base articles and FAQs. To address gaps, the Team Lead creates new knowledge base articles where necessary. In most ITSM platforms, leads can use an administrative user interface to save articles (often created in Word) into the database as a web page. Once they are stored in the knowledge base, the articles are searchable and the most effective ones include images (screen shots), relevant hyperlinks, and embedded instructional videos using html5 tags. And as new support items arise, service desk personnel are able to flag tickets in which they have documented new resolution procedures as candidates for the knowledge base.
To get an idea of how descriptive a KBA should be, below is an example complete with screen shots.
How to Disable an Active Directory Account
How to disable a user’s network account
How to disable AD Account
Open AD Users and Computers
1. Right click on mds.acme.com
2. Select Find to locate the user
3. Double click the 'User' icon.
4. On the Account tab, select the “Account is disabled”check box.
5. Under Account Expires, select the “End of” radio button and enter the correct date when the account should be disabled.
6. Open Exchange and find the user's mailbox. On the General tab, select the “Hide from Exchange address lists” check box.
7. On the Member Of tab, remove all groups assigned to the user.
Please Note: You do not need to remove Domain Users.
8. On the Organization tab, remove the user's manager by clicking Clear.
9. Click the Apply button
Please Note: It will take approximately 2 hours to update the Global Address List (GAL)
10. Move User account to mds.acme.com\accounts\Disabled Users
Following the above example, the job is complete because the procedural steps don’t skip a beat. Even with the succinct wording, the screen shots illustrate each selection, leaving no room for interpretation. While data security policies would likely preclude typical end users from executing this procedure on their own, this is not to say it wouldn’t be easily manageable if such rights were granted. As with any well written instructional manual, the steps are self-evident and the resolution achievable within a few minutes. Taking this premise further, more complex troubleshooting procedures can equally be built out and added to the knowledge base, expanding what Configuration Items can be resolved by a Remote Level 1 team. As with all SLAs, maximizing resolution rates will always be a numbers game, but it’s a game the service desk will always win if the agents take it one step at a time.