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Scope of Knowledge Management - Information Matrix Integrity

ITIL guidance on the scope of Knowledge Management amounts to little more than, “This is the process responsible for maintaining the Service Knowledge Management System.”
My goal with this is to try and fill in a few of the blanks with my vision of what the scope of Knowledge Management should be – how it would be defined, given my druthers – what it will be, when I achieve my goal of being a Director of Knowledge Management.

How many people performing Incident Management in your organization have extensive experience with statistical modeling?
How many are up to date with the rapidly changing frontier of data visualization systems?
How many have not only the talent to define effective tension metrics, but the broad vision to understand how those metrics will interact with the metrics being produced elsewhere in the organization?
How many are fluent in the Knowledge Centered Support methodology and have enough experience in database systems to understand the constraints and capabilities of knowledge gathering and presentation in an interactive knowledge base?

Now ask the same questions about those performing Problem Management, Capacity Management, Demand Management, Change Management…

It’s quite obvious that all of these disciplines require metrics & reporting mechanisms at a minimum and the processes can really only be as good as the information. Nobody needs to stress the significant importance of data integrity to an IT audience, but so few of us can honestly stand behind their information integrity.

Defining the right measurements to build effective metrics that underscore relevant KPI’s requires a very specific skill set – and even many of those who have acquired those skills are lacking in the wisdom to practice their craft outside the vacuum of a relatively small set of focal points.
Using the example of a set of servers, each with 99.999% availability, reflecting the stability of a service that goes down twice a day is practically old hat by now, but it does exemplify one aspect of the necessity of the vision required to craft accurately representative metrics across an organization.
Another important aspect is ensuring that the data collection and analysis practices are in alignment across the spectrum. Are the Service Desks, Incident Management and Problem Management all on the same page regarding the Expanded Incident Lifecycle events? Are all the service availability metrics being produced using the same methodology?
Equally as important, but often wholly overlooked, is the impact that the metrics themselves will have on one another. Metrics are built upon measurements and other metrics. If the methodology used to measure service availability changes, what impact will that have on other metrics that are built from those numbers and metrics that use the same set of measurements? What is the potential cultural impact of those changes?

Ensuring the integrity of business information requires the ability to view a system as a synergistic whole while not losing sight of the recursive impact each component can exert on that whole.
That vision is rare.
If you are fortunate enough to have an individual with that capacity in your organization, how much tactical knowledge does that individual have outside the purview of his own process(es)? Does she even have access to the data from the other processes? Does he have the authority to adjust the data analysis methodologies used in other processes?

Every process relies, to one degree or another, on accurate information – some processes and functions are wholly dependent upon it.
Continual Service Improvement hasn’t a shred of hope of producing consistent, effective results without information integrity.
Service Desk productivity is tied directly to the capability to transform information into relevant knowledge.
Accurate trend analysis is a staple of performance for Problem Management, Capacity & Demand Management and Event Management – and it is impossible without information integrity.

How many reports are generated by the various departments and to whom are they going?
Are they used? Are they even relevant?
Who is validating the accuracy of those reports?
How many can be combined?
How much wasted effort goes into creating these reports and, significantly more important, how much inaccurate information is floating around the organization, fueling business decisions?

Strategic business decisions are being made (or should be made) based on the knowledge gleaned from the information derived from the endless sea of data being generated in your organization. Confidence in the integrity of that information can only be fully realized with, at a minimum, comprehensive central oversight of the information matrix and leadership by an effective Knowledge Management process with a strategic view of the business.
Someone must be ultimately accountable for the crucial integrity of your information matrix.

This is not to suggest that the Knowledge Manager would necessarily own the performance monitor databases, log files, asset databases, etc.
What the Knowledge Manager would own is the data relationships.
If you want to implement a new Incident Management ticketing system, go through Knowledge Management to find out what is required to not break the link that exists between the current Incident Management tool, the Problem Management tool, the ERP tool and the infrastructure performance monitor tools.
If you want to put a new dashboard in the NOC, go to Knowledge Management to find out what data permissions you need and what structure the data has.
If you want to start producing a KPI report for X line of business, go to Knowledge Management for guidance in defining the right measurements to build the right tension metrics to accurately underscore those KPI’s and what visualization techniques to use for the most effective communication to your intended audience.

Knowledge Management has a cyclical, synergistic relationship with the other ITSM processes and that relationship must have clear central leadership.
The maturity of Knowledge Management is constrained by the maturity of the rest of the processes – in that without having a comprehensive view of the processes that create the data, the capability to transform that data into reliable information will necessarily be limited.
At the same time, the maturity of the rest of the processes will be limited the maturity of Knowledge Management.
One of the greatest values of Knowledge Management is that Knowledge Management maturation (relative to the rest of your processes) will arm you with the tools to further the evolution of your other processes.

Maturity in Knowledge Management is the bedrock of ITSM, and as such, the integrity of your information matrix must be centrally managed at the strategic level.

October 27, 2010, 05:48:53 am

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Craig - well said!  Business/organization "know thyself!"

Craig Wilkey

Thanks for the comment, Joan!

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