Offering one-on-one support is a very personal and individualized approach to KM communications. Build a team of people who provide support to users by phone, email, chat, enterprise social network (ESN), and screen sharing.
It is a worthwhile goal to create a knowledge management environment that is simple, easy to navigate, and yields useful content with a minimum of effort. Inevitably, some users will perceive that tools are difficult to master, there are too many resources from which to choose, searching produces too few or too many results, or that it is difficult to connect to when not in the office. You should provide an easy way for users to contact knowledge management experts to obtain consulting, help with finding information, and other assistance.
To ensure that users have a readily accessible source of support, establish a knowledge help desk. The knowledge assistants who staff this help desk can help find information, contact experts, provide training, and answer questions on people, process, and technology components.
Knowledge assistants are people who help employees navigate the knowledge management environment by offering a variety of services. They can advise on how to use collaborative team spaces or how to use other KM tools. They can assist in locating reusable collateral or searching for information, for example when a user is facing a deadline or off the network and needs to find something. They can send content by email or post a link to it in an ESN.
They can help connect to other knowledge sources, either through communities or finding the right people inside or outside the organization. They can help with knowledge capture and reuse, assist in submitting content to repositories, and in ensuring submitted content is of acceptable quality.
To help users find knowledge assistants, it’s a good idea to provide a website with names, phone numbers, email addresses, chat link, and ESN link. You can also create a sticker on which users can write in the phone number of their closest knowledge assistant and affix it to their laptop or phone. Contact information must be readily available when they need to reach the knowledge help desk.
For users who haven’t engaged with the knowledge management environment before and are wondering how to get started, one way is to call a knowledge assistant, mention some of the challenges they face, and ask for advice on people, processes, and tools that address those challenges.
Subject Matter Experts, or The Embedded Knowledge Assistant
Some users need extra help in finding reusable content. When they are looking for materials to reuse, they can contact a knowledge assistant who is an expert in searching the knowledge repositories. This takes advantage of specialized expertise in searching, reduces time spent searching unproductively, and frees up time for other tasks.
Appoint an organization knowledge assistant leader to coordinate efforts between all other knowledge assistants. This can be a role assigned to one of the KM leaders in addition to their other duties. Assign additional knowledge assistants for each key group within the organization. Groups might include regions, large countries, business units, functions, and major work teams.
A Team Approach
All assigned knowledge assistants should work as a team. They should provide backup to each other, provide follow-the-sun coverage for 24/7 support, and assist each other in responding to difficult requests.
To the greatest extent possible, knowledge assistants should also actively engage with users, not just wait for queries and requests to be received. By contacting project teams, managers, and key users in the organization to offer assistance, they can help bring the full power of all knowledge resources to bear.
Knowledge assistants perform the following tasks:
- Help users learn about and use the available people, process, and technology KM components
- Provide consulting on processes and tools
- Facilitate collaboration by connecting people with others who can help them or whom they can help
- Direct users to the right knowledge sources based on specific needs; locate relevant knowledge resources
- Assist users in searching for content and knowledge; find reusable content
- Actively offer assistance to work teams; engage by contacting users, not just waiting for requests to arrive
- Review content submitted to repositories for compliance with quality standards, and follow up as required to improve quality
- Solicit user feedback; direct feedback to the right person within the KM team
- Conduct training; create and record self-paced courses
- Search for information to help meet deadlines; send search results to users who are not connected to the network
- Network with other knowledge assistants; back each other up, help respond to requests, take over open requests at the end of the work day, leveraging different time zones
Planning a KM initiative includes determining who will participate, which processes and tools are required, and how tools should be integrated.
Starting a KM program includes defining participants and roles, which basic processes are required, and how tools should support people and processes.
Knowledge managers should enlist support from top leaders in order to ensure the success of a KM implementation; 10 commitments to ask for
KM guru Stan Garfield provides specific examples of challenges and opportunities and how to turn them into knowledge management program objectives.