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Part of my current job tasks is to support the main business application. The support goes like follows: users “Open Ticket” (a commonly used term for support and means raise a support issue) by sending an email to the HelpDesk with Open Ticket in the subject and describe the issue. Help Desk receives tickets and channels it to the corresponding IT team. We have as per the SLA three working days on average to resolve and close the ticket. While applying and monitoring this SLA guarantees quick response time, and hence, better service satisfaction, but I think the process is overlooking the following angles: 1) it consumes a good percentage of  the support team’s efforts in responding to redundant and recurring issues, especially those tickets that belong to the informational type; 2) level of knowledge is not equal among the team and is not retained when one support member leaves or changes the position; 3)knowledge format is not formal and responses are not consistent; 4)this approach opens unconditional door to the users to raise issues effortlessly with no cost whereas from our side it is  highly costly in effort, consequences, and time. Much of this dedicated time can be otherwise invested in thinking about the root causes and trying to provide innovative and preventive solutions.

kb

KB Team icons shown in Outlook ribbon

For all the reasons above, I thought that the best solution is to maintain a knowledge base that can be accessed by both: the support and business units. For support, I wanted to have a tool/platform to be able to share and document the knowledge. And for the BUs I wanted something that is easy to access and search in before raising a ticket. I experimented with different tools, before I can roll up my sleeves and develop one, till I finally came to find one valuable tool (free download) that enables the support team to “effortlessly store knowledge base articles in one or more SharePoint lists and connect it to Microsoft Outlook for resolving and replying to email replies”. I have been using it for a week now, and I am really happy with the results. I was able to create two KB lists in the SharePoint portal: one for the users and one for application admin with technical articles. I was able to save incoming common issues and their resolutions from Outlook, so that the next time we receive some similar issue we can generate replies from KB right from the Outlook. The KB can be accessed by our users on SharePoint so that in the future they can first search it before they can raise a ticket (only if they didn’t find the answer), and it can help the support team to seamlessly generate replies and instructions for the common inquiries  especially the ones with information-type. At the end it will help establishing consistent and seamless level of support. I want to thank the team who developed this innovative and valuable solution. The team name is AssisstMyTeam, and they have a cool and valuable set of similar solutions to enhance team collaboration in a firm. Here is the link. http://www.assistmyteam.net/TeamKnowledgeBaseSP/Default.asp

Let me conclude with one thought. As I see it, IT is a indispensable resource for business success in today’s world. For this, IT needs to be perceived as a true business partner that can drive real business value with the innovative approaches it can devise.This partnership relationship implies two things: 1) both partners share, to some extent of course, the responsibility of retaining and maintaining the knowledge of the business processes in the application, and 2) the time of both partners is valuable and has real impact on the business. On the other hand, IT is obliged to empower its business users with sufficient tools to take part in the process of sharing knowledge, searching for it, and contributing to it, as well as taking the ownership to maintain it.

Creating empty article in SharePoint option

Creating empty article in SharePoint option

Problem Types and Category Mapping option

Problem Types and Category Mapping option

The list articles in the KB grouped by Problem Type and Category shown in the Reply from a KB option

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