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Implementing Knowledge Management at a U.S. Federal Agency

RightStar TeamAugust 15, 2016

 Knowledge is vital for any organization. Knowledge Management for a large Federal agency is essential.

At one such Federal agency we utilized the Remedy 9.1 Knowledge Management module to capture institutional knowledge beyond IT information. There were historical reference materials from various sources that were difficult to leverage as the organization lacked a central repository. One-stop shopping for past policy decisions, references and process documentation was needed.

This was a grass roots effort. After the initial install and configuration users were asked to write articles from their own “squirrel store of wisdom acorns”. Hands-on training of 20 staff members was done including 5 managers who were given additional coaching and roles to allow them to edit their staff’s articles.

Various formats of information needed to be documented such as text, scanned images, Adobe Acrobat files and web links to intranet pages external to the Remedy system. Multiple sources of knowledge needed to be consolidated into a Single Source of Truth — knowledge in other locations refers back to the Knowledge Management article as its source and that information is collected and maintained in a single location.

Organization of articles is key. With multiple authors the need for a single manager or small team of Knowledge Managers is important. The tool automatically shows suggestions of similar articles from content analysis of key words, title and content of the article while still in Draft status to avoid article duplication.

There were articles that were shared with all users. Access to other knowledge articles was determined by knowledge groups created and based on the organization’s existing Incident Management groups.

One challenge faced in a federal space is the hoarding of knowledge. Often to protect their position or role people don’t want to share what they know. To alleviate the fear of a worker that he or she might later “be replaced” by a knowledge article they had written, we asked individuals to write the articles that answer the simple questions they often field — the annoying, repetitive questions they would rather not have to answer. Having their names on these published articles reinforces them as the subject matter expert on that topic and advertises their expertise to the rest of the organization. When someone has a more complex question on that topic they now know who to ask. Instead of feeling threatened by the Knowledge Management effort, the participating workers feel it helps solidify their value to the organization.

Knowledge Management is a journey, not a destination so we trained the team on the article lifecycle that includes creation, editing, publishing, periodic reviews, updates, and retirement. Once this self-service style of knowledge sharing becomes a part of the organization’s culture there will be no turning back to the bad old days of undocumented, unorganized information scattered among multiple users.

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