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In this video, we’re going to discuss the concept of ITIL Hacks for Knowledge Management in IT Service and Support. We’ll use a case study involving the ITIL practice of Knowledge Management.

As many of you know, ITIL is a multi-billion dollar industry consisting of training, certification, assessments, and other activities that are designed to improve the effectiveness of IT service and support.

ITIL 4 was rolled out in February of 2020, and with 34 practices it was even more complex than ITIL 3, which was comprised of 26 processes.  But even before ITIL 4 was rolled out, we noticed that many in the service and support industry were taking a different approach when it came to ITIL. 

And instead of doggedly pursuing training, certification, and maturation…. and then waiting years to see   any kind of benefit from all that effort, they decided instead to hack ITIL.  An ITIL hack is simply a shortcut that allows you to achieve the benefits of a mature ITIL practice without having to go through months or even years of effort.

This real-world example is from a tech company that was handling about 44,000 incidents per month at level 1.  They had more than 5,000 knowledge articles, but many of the articles were out of date, and the knowledge base was rarely used.

Their ITIL hack involved four simple, but very effective steps:

First, they started attaching every ticket to a knowledge article.  And when there was no relevant knowledge article, they created a placeholder for a knowledge article to be written at a future date, if there were enough tickets attached to the placeholder.

Secondly, each month they identified the knowledge articles and placeholders with the greatest number of incidents attached to them, and they updated those articles, or they wrote a new article for the placeholders.  Their goal was to update or write just 25 articles per month.  This might sound like a modest goal, but they knew that the vast majority of tickets were attached to a relatively small number of knowledge articles.

Thirdly, they assigned an owner for each article.  The article owners were responsible for updating or writing the articles under their ownership, and then maintaining the article over time.  Typically the article owners were IT subject matter experts, say in applications or networking.  But occasionally the article owner was someone who worked in IT support.

Finally, they measured their progress by tracking changes in average handle time, first contact resolution rate, and customer satisfaction. 

Within a year, the service desk at this tech company had updated almost 300 knowledge articles that accounted for more than two thirds of all tickets. 

What about their success metrics?  Well, their first contact resolution rate improved from 68% to almost 82%, and their customer satisfaction improved from 77% to more than 90%. 

But handle time was a different story.  It remained about the same, at around 9 minutes.  But this makes sense if you think about it, because normally handle time would increase as first contact resolution rate increases.  Handle time remaining constant, while FCR improved significantly, was actually a pretty big win on handle time.

So, what lessons can we take away from this?  Well, there’s a few.

  • First, there was no ITIL training and certification.  They bypassed that altogether.  That’s why I call this an ITIL hack.  They got all the benefits of ITIL, without going through the pain of maturing the formal ITIL practice of knowledge management.

  • Secondly, they applied the 80/20 rule, and focused on updating or writing the knowledge articles with the largest number of tickets attached to them.

  • Thirdly, they assigned an owner to each knowledge article.

  • And finally, they measured their progress by monitoring changes in FCR, handle time, and customer satisfaction.

Thanks for joining me today.  I hope you found my Vlog on ITIL hacks for Knowledge management to be informative and insightful.

Jeffrey Rumburg

Jeff Rumburg is a co-founder and Managing Partner of MetricNet, where he is responsible for global strategy, product development, and financial operations for the company. As a leading expert in benchmarking and re-engineering, Mr. Rumburg authored a best selling book on benchmarking, and has been retained as a benchmarking expert by such well known companies as American Express, Hewlett-Packard, General Motors, IBM, and Sony. Mr. Rumburg was honored in 2014 by receiving the Ron Muns Lifetime Achievement Award for his contributions to the IT Service and Support industry. Prior to co-founding MetricNet, Mr. Rumburg was president and founder of The Verity Group, an international management consulting firm specializing in IT benchmarking. While at Verity, Mr. Rumburg launched a number of syndicated benchmarking services that provided low cost benchmarks to more than 1,000 corporations worldwide. Mr. Rumburg has also held a number of executive positions at META Group, and Gartner. As a vice president at Gartner, Mr. Rumburg led a project team that reengineered Gartner’s global benchmarking product suite. And as vice president at META Group, Mr. Rumburg’s career was focused on business and product development for IT benchmarking. Mr. Rumburg’s education includes an M.B.A. from the Harvard Business School, an M.S. magna cum laude in Operations Research from Stanford University, and a B.S. magna cum laude in Mechanical Engineering. He is author of A Hands-On Guide to Competitive Benchmarking: The Path to Continuous Quality and Productivity Improvement, and has taught graduate-level engineering and business courses.

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