If you manage an IT system, you probably have several people, software challenges and hardware questions swirling around your head at any given moment. There’s always a new process to evaluate or optimize.
Do you ever stop to think,
“Who can get to these challenges?”
And, more importantly,
“Didn’t we already answer this question?”
Since its 2010 iteration, Microsoft System Center Service Manager has been the choice for companies to automate and adapt their IT service management best practices. 2016 and 2019 releases include built-in processes for incident and problem resolution, change control, and asset lifecycle management.
It’s not perfect, though. Many companies choose an SCSM knowledge base extension to customize their user experience.
Read on to learn more.
What Is SCSM?
Microsoft System Center Service Management updates in 2019 include SQL 2017 support, enabled Service Logon for more secure use and user interface improvements. If you are unfamiliar with SCSM, here ‘s a quick explainer. One of the highlights of the automated management system is the ability to plan IT disaster recovery.
While a degree in computer science isn’t required for IT management, understanding some of the advanced tools for SCSM can make your company processes more efficient. The self-service portal allows users to log incidents and track problem resolutions. It’s also where to request new IT services like the addition to a security group, a request for a new mobile phone, or a voicemail login change for a new employee.
Request workflows are automated where possible. For a decision where approval is required, the work order flows to the approving supervisor and onwards without multiple emails.
What Is Knowledge Base?
The knowledge base provides articles to help a user solve problems without interacting with IT people. It’s the first stop for any issue and contains training, information, status reports and more. Before users report an incident or engage support, the knowledge base allows people to search for a solution on their own.
Creation and publication of the knowledge base can be time-intensive. This is where third-party solutions really make a difference. Many IT professionals find the SCSM interface incomplete without customization. Third-party vendors provide consulting, training and implementation assistance.
Look for tools and apps to make life simpler. For example, the Cireson Portal offers extensions to allow user, analyst and administrator access from anywhere, on any device. Add integration with Skype and Outlook for communication, add device management and populate requests on the fly.
Populating Your SCSM Knowledge Base
The content creation process for your knowledge base starts with looking at who the users are. The size of the team, type of business and whether the content is internal or external are important inputs. Determine an owner to monitor content and ensure issues get documented.
Use apps to automate moving issue documentation to the knowledge base as problems are solved. Community feedback on documentation can be very helpful. Not surprisingly, there are apps for that, too.
Make flagging issues not found in the knowledge base part of the issue-reporting process. That way new or updated information created makes its way back to the knowledge base. Build content creation and updates into the support workflow.
Write Knowledge Base Content
Make knowledge base content a priority. You may have a technical writer review your issue tickets to document solutions or you may have subject matter experts on work teams tackle frequently asked questions.
Either way, you may find it helpful to create a template, style guidelines and taxonomy to follow. Even better, automate review to ensure that articles remain timely and accurate.
Users prefer articles that are clear, concise, and consistent. Articles may contain text, video, screenshots, and links to order forms, tickets, etc. If the end-users can’t find knowledge base answers easily and in natural language, they will skip it and seek agent help instead.
Make Articles Short and Titles Action-Based
Long articles lose users. Use bullets and section headers to divide content into scannable information. Make your titles action-based.
Instead of a long article about “User Onboarding”, try breaking it up into section or short articles such as “Changing User Names”, “Limiting User Access”, “Assign or Archive Users”. Make sure that articles and section titles are specific and uniform.
Check that your portal allows easy searching from any platform. Crosslink related articles to help users get the info they need.
Itemized lists and step by step instructions are easy to follow. Breaking things down also makes scanning the article for relevancy or a solution easier for users. For consistency, choose how you use your lists.
Bullet points are for items or steps that don’t have a particular order. Numbered or lettered lists indicate things that need to be completed in sequence.
Spell Out Jargon
Define words and terms used in your knowledge base. Define the terms in each article or link to a comprehensive glossary. Users find it easier to have a definition in the article itself.
If a concept is advanced, link to an article that explains the concept. Don’t lose the user with a lengthy explanation. A simple paragraph and link for users who need it is enough. If you find frequent click-throughs, one or both articles might need review.
Schedule Regular Reviews
All your knowledge base articles need review for accuracy and consistency.
- Require pre-publication technical reviews to avoid errors and inconsistencies
- Build user trust with regular feedback and updates
- Schedule regular content reviews for relevancy and accuracy
- Use draft mode to get feedback and team approval before publication
- Give the owner/publisher final approval rights
Your knowledge base is a living document to help users with the IT management process.
Tools and Apps to Make the Process Easier
The SCSM Knowledge Base is a powerful tool to automate IT management processes. Customize it to your company’s needs with third-party apps and tools to create user-friendly portals, robust reports, and all-device access.
Populate your knowledge base with content driven by frequently asked questions, user onboarding and more. Use user feedback to review and revise content. Automate the process with tools that work within SCSM.
Looking for more tools to help manage the IT process? Check out our articles in Technology.