Sunday, July 1, 2012

The Most Important ITIL Process

What if I told you that not only is there a most important ITIL process, it's widely misunderstood and rarely treated as a process? It's true! Lost in the discussions about incidents, portfolios, catalogs and CSI is the fact that they are all dependent on another process. It is called out many times in all of the ITIL books. But this Rodney Dangerfield of processes "gets no respect". 

This red-headed stepchild of ITIL is Knowledge Management. Most practitioners can recite DIKW (Data->Information->Knowledge->Wisdom) in their sleep. That's the output of Knowledge Management. Few could tell you the inputs to KM, and fewer still how to go about improving their ability to perform KM.

So what are the key inputs to Knowledge Management? EXPERIENCES and INSIGHTS. Quite simply, if your organization cannot capture the experiences and insights of its members and reuse them, ITSM is hopeless. For instance, if your incident management process does not capture what was done and what was learned while service was being restored, problem management becomes nearly impossible.

While KM is a process, it is not an algorithm. It uses heuristics and is a prime candidate for Adaptive Case Management techniques to ensure its outputs achieve their intended purpose. Effective knowledge management is built on standards that include the following items:

  • Standards for recording data around key experiences and insights - incidents, problems, requests, etc
  • Standards for processing data into information - classification, categorization, etc
  • Standards for analyzing information into knowledge - comparisons to targets/expectations, trends, etc
  • Standards for presenting knowledge to support effective decision making (wisdom) - identifying decision criteria, how to represent performance in graphs/tables/charts, etc
To support these standards, you can use models such as the Knowledge Spiral and Knowledge-Centered Support to increase your organization's capabilities. The benefits are that you are better able to discern patterns and address them effectively. And instead of a red-headed stepchild, knowledge management can be the Golden Child that improves your organization's efficiency and effectiveness.