Re: Knowledge Base and Online Docs

Subject: Re: Knowledge Base and Online Docs
From: Ruth Glaser <rglaser -at- DATAWORKSMPLS -dot- COM>
Date: Mon, 27 Oct 1997 08:14:23 -0600


Not exactly the same scenario, we don't have an internal "help desk",
but our phone support people use a massive knowledgebase (kb) to search
for answers to customers' questions. We also supply online help and a
little printed documentation with our product.

In addition to online help and kb documents, consider any other
documents that get created: release notes, installation instructions,
installation and training schedules, FAQs, etc. What are all the pieces
of information that a helpdesk person or field engineer will need to
access to do his/her job? (To determine this, do their job for a short
period of time. If you can't, watch and talk to them - notice the post
it notes attached to their monitors. What are all the papers hanging in
their cubes? What are their most frequently accessed documents?) These
should all be documents in a knowledgebase so they are searchable and so
access can be monitored.

To answer your questions:

Compatibility is a huge issue!!! We use Apriori by Platinum for our kb.
It runs in a UNIX environment and has a closed database (i.e., you can
only access documents created in Apriori through it -- you can not
access any word docs or online help through Apriori.)

This is a gigantic problem. What if I create a piece of knowledge and
don't store it in the kb? What if I create the knowledge in online help?
Or store it as a Word document instead? (This often happens because
graphics are needed or Word is the tool of choice for the person
creating the doc.) The knowledge is lost because it can not be searched
upon and used again.

Also, consider the time it takes to search multiple databases of
information. If I'm a helpdesk person, and a person calls with a
question, I search help to see if I find anything, then I enter an
entirely different environment and search the kb. Then I search the
papers scattered on my desk for the latest memo that came out on the
topic . . .Very time consuming.

Also, if you have online help in a separate database or as a separate
format, how are you going to track how often it is used to solve
problems? Tracking and searching are key features of a kb. Searching
gives you the answers at the touch of a button. Tracking lets you know
which areas in your product or your docs to improve. It also helps
determine which features are needed in future releases.

We are currently exploring scrapping our kb in favor of an open
database. One thing you will want is an interface to is your automatic
call distribution (ACD) system if you have one. I can't imagine having
the expertise and time to develop something like this in-house. However,
there are few commercially available systems for this. The solution I
predict will be a hybrid: commercial application with an open database
with some custom programming to suit our particular environment.

As for a CD-ROM, we do produce a CD ROM of our kb and distribute it to
customers quarterly. The problem is that our kb is dynamic and could
potentially be updated with each new call. So, the minute we produce a
CD, it is out of date. Noe, we give our users direct access to documents
(with an approved status) in our kb via the internet.

As for gov't sites not allowing internet access, could you install high
speed modems on the FE's laptops and give them dialup access to your kb?
I'm not sure about this, but won't the gov't let them use their own
internet software/account to access the internet? Please post more
questions if I can help.

rglaser -at- dataworksmpls -dot- com

-----Original Message-----
From: Annalee Foster [SMTP:scripta -at- GJ -dot- NET]
Sent: Friday, October 24, 1997 12:22 PM
Subject: Knowledge Base and Online Docs

Hi all,

I have two issues:

1. Anybody have any experience with the compatibility of a help
knowledge base and online service documentation?

Our help desk is in the discussion stages of developing their
base so that when a customer is on the phone they can look up
information about a given problem.

I am in the process of recommending on-line documenation
solutions for our service manuals which include procedures and system

Is there some criteria that we should be matching in these two
systems, or is it only important that we be able to link back and forth
as needed?

2. The purpose of the online service manuals is so that field
can access information via laptops. This would include
pertinent assembly drawings and schematics. The in-house
consensus is
that no way will the FE's wait to download drawings, not to
mention some
government sites won't allow web access from their sites.

Anybody have any experience with this? Is it a problem? How
has it
been dealt with?
The help desk is suggesting putting everything on CD ROM -- an
idea I am
opposed to, but maybe I'm just not seeing it correctly.

Any suggestions are appreciated.


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