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Organize your approach

Discover how to address of the challenge of legacy knowledge.

  • Create a team to decide what to include in your knowledge base, then build and maintain it.
  • Provide employees with centralized knowledge access for a more consumer‑like experience.
  • Launch knowledge management with change management.

If your company is like most, chances are your knowledge is scattered and hard to find. The first step in helping employees get the knowledge they need is to organize your approach to knowledge management:

  • Define your team and the roles you will include
  • Define your knowledge base (KB) categories
  • Develop your inventory of knowledge
Expert Tip

EXPERT TIP

Before building your team, get executive sponsorship and promote change management.

Step 1: Define your key stakeholders and build your team

When you build out knowledge management for your company, you need to get a variety of roles involved and determine their responsibilities. Find out who the knowledge experts are in your company.

Look for your knowledge management team members in the roles described below. You may not be able to put all of the roles we suggest in place—that’s OK. It's common for team members to wear multiple hats and still be very effective.

Role

Role description

Program manager

If possible, assign a program manager to build a project plan, assign a project name, and manage the knowledge management transformation project. The project manager will ensure your project stays on track and meets all criteria for an effective deployment.

Knowledge manager

The knowledge manager is responsible for owning the knowledge base itself, the system, configuration, and ongoing maintenance. In addition, through dashboard reporting, the knowledge owner will monitor and identify top issues and/or concerns within the organization. This manager also:

  • Requires significant involvement from the SMEs and project team
  • May require an initial investment to get up to speed on the company, project objectives, and knowledge
  • Will likely speed up the process
  • Will cross-train content owner(s)
  • May come at a higher cost

This person typically has the skills of a project manager and previous experience with managing a knowledge base. Experience with migration processes would be a plus.

Content owner(s) or SME(s)

The designated assigned content owner(s), aka SMEs, do not have to be dedicated resources—they may wear many hats. They will ensure the content is created and maintained with consistent best practices and that it follows quality standards. Content owners may be support desk staff that you move into this role or functional area experts in benefits, employee relations, payroll, etc. They are:

  • Key stakeholders who will review and build new knowledge content as you prepare for deployment and ongoing maintenance of the knowledge base.
  • The reviewers and approvers of knowledge articles prior to publishing for consumption. Functional area experts (like those in benefits, employee relations, payroll, etc.) are ideal for this role.
  • Aware of where the HR knowledge gaps are in your organization.
  • Typically in the center of excellence (COE).

Content writer (optional)

Content writers are sometimes technical writers who prepare articles and other supporting documents to communicate complex and technical information more easily. They should be part of the review, editorial, and final review processes. Content writers will also review grammar, format, messaging, etc. (Note: Content writers could be the same as the content owners/SMEs in certain situations.)

End users

Don’t lose sight of your consumers of knowledge, which include your employees, supervisors, contingent workers, and your HR agents.

Table 1: Suggested roles for your knowledge management team

Expert Tip

EXPERT TIP

Make sure some of the members of your knowledge management team are dedicated resources to ensure quality and success.

Role

Responsibilities

Knowledge author

Draft
Edit

Knowledge reviewer

Review submissions
Review articles
Retire/cancel

Knowledge manager

Final review
Publish
Retire/cancel
Recover from retired or canceled

Knowledge admin

Delete articles
Train, troubleshoot, and support
Detect and track defects and requirements
Develop

Service desk agents

Consume knowledge
Submit knowledge from cases
Provide feedback on knowledge

Employee community

Consumer knowledge
Provide feedback on knowledge

Table 2: Example of a ServiceNow customer’s definition of knowledge team roles and responsibilities

Here’s a customer example of a core knowledge management project team:

  • Executive sponsors
  • Service delivery manager
  • Project managers
  • Designer
  • Developers (Customer, Accenture)
  • Enterprise knowledge team
  • Service desk agents
  • Service partners
  • End users

Table 2 and the customer's list of team members show how the roles and responsibilities can vary based on how you structure the knowledge team. Some of these roles aren’t necessarily full time, but they could be. What’s important to your short‑ and long‑term KB success and quality is that you create a team with a strategic focus on knowledge management.

Step 2: Create categories for your content

The knowledge you will create and capture in later stages of this project requires some prior organization. Later, when you deploy the ServiceNow Employee Service Center, you’ll use categories to organize your knowledge topics.

Given this, before you capture existing or build new knowledge, you need to build a framework for categorization. Then, as you capture the content in the later steps, the framework will help you filter the content to the appropriate category. By doing this, you make the inventory and review process go much quicker and lay the groundwork for an effective search experience for your employees. 

Your framework should include parent (top‑level) categories and child categories. The parent of a child category can be a top‑level category or another child category. When you make a category the child of another child category, you can create a category structure with any number of levels. You can create and edit categories separately for each knowledge base.

Table 3: Customer example of categories for part of a style guide

By defining categories upfront, you’ll be prepared to store inventory in each category and you’ll make it easier for your team to review, consolidate, and prepare the data.

Expert Tip

EXPERT TIP

To help you define who owns the content, align your categories with the ServiceNow COEs since your content owners are also probably within a COE in your HR department.

Figure 1: ServiceNow HR knowledge categories example

Expert Tip

EXPERT TIP

Consider limiting how many categories you use to help optimize search. Depending on the company structure and global requirements, some customers use only five to 10.

Step 3: Take inventory

As you take inventory of the knowledge you already have, look for these types of HR content:

  • Policies
  • Standard operating procedures (SOPs)
  • FAQs
  • User guides
  • Job aids
  • Articles
  • Release notes
  • Procedures
  • Quick reference guides

Your knowledge management team should look for the answers to several questions. These questions will lead the team in the right direction so you can glean all that’s currently available.

Questions you’re trying to address:

How to address them:

Where are existing knowledge articles and policies stored?

They may be:

  • On a company intranet site
  • On a homegrown site
  • On a SharePoint site with access through a link farm
  • Stored on a shared drive
  • Scattered on multiple people’s computers and distributed as needed by email or even printed in an employee handbook
  • Stored on a variety of different systems, because many companies going through this transformation don’t have a central repository
  • Policies or SOPs used by internal HR agents

Who are the owners who maintain these documents, and how do we get access to them?

Once you identify the location of the artifacts, you need to obtain the materials. Here’s how:

  • Identify the key stakeholders that own the knowledge. These owners will be in: benefits, recruiting, compensation, Payroll, IT, facilities, security, and other areas within the company. They are often a combination of department leaders and SMEs.
  • Prepare a communication to announce the deployment of a knowledge management solution. Within it, request access to people and information and communicate how the transformation will provide long-term benefits to your key stakeholders. Ideally, this communication should come from an executive sponsor to highlight the importance of the initiative.
  • Work with the stakeholders to gain access, and keep them informed of the project’s status and plan.
  • If you have an employee handbook, it’s a great starting point for knowledge articles and policies. Store the document in your repository to be included in the process. Consider breaking up the content to make it easier for consumption.

What should we do with the knowledge artifacts once we locate them?

As you complete the steps above, store all identified knowledge artifacts in a central location so you can begin the transformation process. This could be a shared drive on your network, or you might use online tools such as SharePoint, OneDrive, Box, or Dropbox. Keep in mind:

  • The categories should align with the structure of the data in its current state to ensure an easier and more efficient review process.
  • As you gather and store the existing knowledge articles, categorize them and store them appropriately to expedite reviewing and publishing.

Are there gaps in areas of knowledge? Do we need to create new articles?

After you finish your inventory and the articles have been reviewed, check for:

  • Gaps in a particular category
  • Missing regional content
  • Incomplete content or content that lacks detail
  • Areas where the content is missing completely

Table 4: Questions to help you take inventory

These are one customer’s pre‑deployment knowledge management findings:

  • Duplicative storage locations for HR knowledge – Value of knowledge was already inherent.
  • Inconsistent formats and templates across countries and languages – Pulled the best from these templates to make a new one.
  • Almost zero knowledge articles – Starting fresh meant we got to build from the ground up—and no clean up!
  • One knowledge manager supporting 200 – Had to decentralize and simplify.
Expert Tip

EXPERT TIP

To reduce risk and to protect your HR service delivery operations, use quality articles and SOPs. Document the processes agents follow on high‑impact and risk cases.

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