To: Knowledge Management Technology Vendors
From: DB Kay & Associates
Re: Suggested New Years Resolutions
Vendors, I’ve been watching your customers struggle with your products. I have a few simple suggestions that might help.
- Streamline the interface. Here’s a question: how long does it take a user to do all the mousing and clicking required to set tags, change access levels, and perform other administrative tasks before she can even start to capture knowledge? In most cases, it’s at least a minute of work, which may not seem like much, but it’s an eternity when you’re trying to capture and structure knowledge in the workflow.
If there are pop-up windows, can they be pulldowns? Or can the interface be provided in the page with AJAX or other dynamic technologies?
If there are pulldowns, can they be radio buttons?
If there are radio buttons, can they be checkboxes that are only used by exception?
Can we just eliminate interface elements?
Use any modern web application – Gmail, for example. Is your software that responsive? Really? Buy your developers an O’Reilly book if they’re not sure how web apps were written after 2005.
- Make linking from CRM cases (or incidents) to knowledge articles a part of every Phase I implementation. A reuse counter in your tool isn’t sufficient. Without this data, customers will be flying blind.
- Don’t design for your most complex customers. I know customers come to you insisting that they need three independent taxonomies for entitlement, and fifteen levels of access, individually selectable visibility flags for each section in the template, and workflows that trigger separately for each kind of document.
I’ve met them, too. The thing about these customers is, they destroy your product for people who are more sophisticated about how knowledge actually works. Remember, overengineering knowledge processes is almost always a symptom of a lack of practical experience. If a feature is going to add an extra click for other customers, please just say “no.” Shoot us an email and we’ll try to help your customer see the light.
Best wishes for a wonderful—and streamlined—2011.
Have you ever wondered what happens in a KCS Foundations Workshop? Before I attended one, I didn’t really know either! Let me tell you a little bit about what you can experience.
Because KCS is a methodology of processes and practices, there are key concepts to work though and understand. It may seem like you can pick up a copy of the KCS Practices Guide and get on your way… Let me just say, this is a “guide”. As useful as the Practices guide is, I have found that nothing works better than an opportunity to share experiences with others, ask questions and really work through the concepts to understand how to successfully implement and practice KCS.
Photo credit: michaelcardus. Creative Commons, some rights reserved.
The introduction to KCS, which happens on the first day, brings everyone together on the methodology. This provides the atmosphere where everyone can level set and ask questions about the 8 Practices, the supporting techniques and the Double Loop concept. This sets the groundwork for the remainder of the Workshop agenda.
In day two and three, the focus switches over to critical success factors for a KCS Program. This is where the aspects of changing the behaviors and culture of the organization come into play. We spend time talking and working through these concepts as a group in order to share experiences and examples. Because there are people from different backgrounds, organizations and experiences it makes the sharing more valuable and relatable.
In every Workshop, there are multiple exercises mixed in with the workshop materials. These exercises support the practices, methodology and concepts and force the participants to apply what they have learned to gain additional insight. I have seen firsthand how stepping away from the materials, working with the other participants and applying the concepts in a practical manner has moved the needle of understanding. The light bulb goes off and it’s a wonderful thing to see happen.
This Workshop takes the methodology to the next level. The processes, practices, techniques and critical KCS Program components all come together and become more practical.
Photo Credit: No more words, Katie Tegtmeyer. Creative Commons, Some Rights Reserved
At a workshop I did recently, the subject of customer communities came up. One participant—who had been making insightful and well-informed comments all day—stunned the room when he said, “Customer communities won’t work for us. We have a policy that our customers are not to talk with each other.”
He said this matter-of-factly, so I looked for some raise of his eyebrow, or lift at the corner of his mouth, just to let us know he was joking. It became quickly clear that this fellow was serious as a heart attack.
Sometimes, clients tell me that their customers have no interest in getting technical support from each other, and that’s why they don’t need forums. Generally, five minutes on Google, Bing, or Yahoo! provides convincing counterevidence.
Yes, your customers want to talk with each other, and they trust each other (maybe more than they trust you?) and no, you don’t get to tell them they can’t talk to each other.
So: do you want to be part of the conversation, or not?