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.