The Key Role of a Service Knowledge Management System in Driving Innovation

The Key Role of a Service Knowledge Management System in Driving Innovation

Jun 25, 2024
by jessicadunbar

Businesses that get ahead are those that innovate. This isn’t anything new – think about the front runners in any industry. They’ve all worked hard to invest in the latest tech to pull in new customers and grow their brands.

We’re currently in a period of extreme technological development. We can understand our customers better than ever before, create more streamlined internal communications and carry out large-scale automation. Unfortunately, this rapid-scale innovation makes it difficult to know where to begin that innovation.

You need a way of maximizing the benefits of those internal systems and processes: the more systems you have, the more complex this becomes. You’ll need help in managing those systems and processes, and making the best use of the knowledge they contain. This is where a Service Knowledge Management System (SKMS) comes in handy.

Used properly, it will put you in control and facilitate ongoing innovation. But what exactly is this system, and how can it help your business to innovate? We’ll explore that, and more, in this article.

What is a service knowledge management system?

Modern businesses are supported by extensive technical infrastructure. Most will be familiar with an Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL), where all practices, frameworks, and technical activities are held. It incorporates key areas such as IT service management and digital asset management.

A Service Knowledge Management System is another vital part of an organization’s ITIL. It contains all the data needed to manage the ITIL service lifecycle. Although often referred to as a ‘system’, a SKMS is actually a group of databases, systems, and other sources, including potentially integrating with niche marketplaces

Each of these elements will gather, maintain and update the data needed to manage different aspects of your business. A SKMS is a single source for all key infrastructure data.

Flexibility is important. Members of staff can connect to your SKMS from any location, whenever it’s needed. They can access all the data they require for their given tasks. The system is also useful for customers, who can access information about IT services.

How does a SKMS support innovation? 

A SKMS can help empower innovation in various ways. Firstly, it provides easy access to knowledge about your IT systems, helping you to spot issues and inefficiencies. When allocating your budget for innovation, you’ll have a clearer idea of the areas on which to focus.

What’s equally important is that a SKMS can help make the process of innovation more effective. Adding new, advanced technologies to your IT infrastructure brings many benefits. However, it also makes system management more complex. Your SKMS will make this easier to handle, reducing the risks within your expanded IT infrastructure and encouraging further innovation.

By providing a centralized space for knowledge and data, it’s easier to see the full picture and for your staff members to get the knowledge they need. This helps you to integrate newer technologies more smoothly. You’re less likely to encounter integration problems, too, as understanding the wider processes will help you address these if they do occur during the initial setup.

Benefits of a SKMS 

Using a service management system has a range of benefits. These are essential in the effective management of IT infrastructure and will encourage and facilitate change and innovation. Let’s look at some of the top examples.

A bird's eye view of infrastructure 

Understanding the relationship between IT systems and processes is key to effective running and management. Without understanding how processes connect, there’s a greater chance of different components running inefficiently or errors being introduced. Without proper visualization, it’s much harder to ensure new systems are functioning properly. A comprehensive SKMS will help you spot issues or inefficiencies.

A SKMS provides a bird’s eye view to help you understand the relationships between systems. For example, recruitment teams can better recognize the differences between ATS vs CRM. This increased understanding helps teams make the most of different systems’ functions.

Increased oversight also makes troubleshooting much simpler. Teams can easily correct issues before they become too problematic.

Smoother implementation of changes 

As mentioned, introducing any new technology to the workplace brings risk. Tech might not be implemented correctly – and could even damage other existing systems or processes. A SKMS provides a visual map of your IT infrastructure.

This enables you to visualize the impact of any new technology before implementation. Increased employee knowledge helps you plan your new projects effectively. You can spot potential roadblocks early and then begin formulating strategies to minimize disruption during implementation.

Increased compliance 

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With data regulations constantly appearing, issues such as GDPR compliance have become a top business priority. Any infringement of legislation can not only be financially painful but also severely damage customer trust. Ensuring data is being handled correctly requires constant oversight of your systems.

One of the components of a SKMS is a configuration management database (CNDB), which provides a change log that lists all activities in your system. This way, you can spot any wrongdoing before it becomes damaging. This log can also be a valuable tool during an audit, helping to demonstrate that required actions are complete and above board.

Better risk management

It is impossible to remove risk from your business system. However, it is a vital management responsibility to manage and reduce this possibility.

Having access to a comprehensive view of the knowledge within your estate will facilitate a more structured and complete risk analysis. This will let you rate risk exposure, allocate responsibilities, and prepare mitigating actions.

By doing this, you’ll spot risks before they materialize and reduce (or even remove) their impact when they occur.

SKMS challenges 

Despite its many benefits, there are also challenges associated with implementing a SKMS. Be prepared for some of the roadblocks listed below.

  • Cost: Building a SKMS can be expensive. You’ll need to pay not only for a solution that’s tailored to your needs, but also for ensuring all elements are properly maintained.
  • Time-consuming: Implementing a SKMS can be a drawn-out process. Stakeholders need to be prepared for this and may need convincing before committing to the process.
  • Errors: You may run into problems if implementation is handled incorrectly. For instance, you could encounter cases of duplicate data.
  • Complexity: The more tech you introduce to your infrastructure, the more complex your system becomes. It’s easy to make the case that these are the systems where a SKMS is most vital. It’s also true to say that building a comprehensive SKMS in these circumstances will present greater challenges.
  • Integration with e-commerce tools: Introducing e-commerce tools into your existing infrastructure can pose integration challenges. Ensuring seamless compatibility and data exchange between your SKMS and e-commerce platforms is crucial for efficient operations. Additionally, incorporating e-commerce data into your SKMS can provide valuable insights for decision-making and innovation strategies.

Stages of a service management system 

A service management system follows several stages. Each supports IT operations and enables innovation in different ways. Let’s look at each stage in more detail. 

Data and information 

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The first stage of a SKMS focuses on gathering valuable knowledge. A system will consolidate information from many different data sources such as software assets, digital documents, processes, and information purchased from data vendors. The data information layer also houses important databases. One example is the CNDB, which captures configuration items ensuring infrastructure elements can function correctly.

Knowledge organization

Once a SKMS has gathered data, it must be organized into relevant groups and categories. The goal is to make information more accessible so, when a user is searching for data, they’ll know where to look. Information is stored in a centralized repository, such as a web content management system or database.

Knowledge processing 

Data in its raw form isn’t of much use to human users. That’s why a SKMS will report and analyze all data in an understandable format. You can use this intelligence to inform your approach to business tactics. For instance, a system can help you monitor employee performance and create strategies aimed at improvement.

Knowledge distribution and presentation  

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Information is shared with relevant areas across your organization, including help systems and training programs. Once shared, data is presented in an accessible and clear way. This often includes a search function, so users can find specific information. Data is often also accompanied by visual media - such as images or graphs - to make information more digestible.

Over time, data will be monitored for accuracy. When needed, certain elements will be updated to include the latest information.

Components of Knowledge Management

In the previous section, we looked at the stages of Knowledge Management – but what makes up a SKMS? Some of the key elements of knowledge management are described below:


A critical component of Knowledge Management is a comprehensive central repository of information and knowledge. This will include a wide range of information, from procedures and training manuals to system diagrams and plans.

Document management

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Document management covers all aspects of storage, organization, and access to information.  It facilitates consistent access by appropriately authorized people. It is important to keep document management processes up to date as your systems and processes develop.

Content management

While document management relates to the documents themselves, content management relates to their creation, editing, storage, and publishing. It incorporates items such as workflows, schedules, and guidelines.

Configuration management

We’ve mentioned configuration management already. This documents the configuration of systems, products, and services. If documented clearly, it can help you to understand relationships – resulting in improved management of change.

Change management 

Change activity can relate to processes, products, and services. Strong change management ensures changes follow a structured process and enable progress tracking. This reduces the risks related to change, and reduces potential disruption.

Best practices for implementing a SKMS 

Are you thinking of implementing a service knowledge management system? Stick to the best practices listed below to stay on the correct path.

Assess business challenges 

The first step of implementation is asking, ‘Why does my business need a SKMS?’. Understanding your goals is key to building an implementation that meets your needs. Unfortunately, it isn’t enough to just answer, ‘to support innovation’. 

To understand the scope of the task at hand, consider the existing challenges faced by your organization. Could your internal processes be more streamlined? Do you need more accurate data? For each challenge identified, consider how a SKMS can act as a solution. 

Track your progress 

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Once your implementation is in place, it's important to monitor its performance. Think back to your earlier goals: is your SKMS helping you to meet them? To track the effectiveness of your system, it's useful to identify a set of key performance indicators (KPIs).

Consider the best KPIs that will align with your goals. Some examples you may want to add are: 

  • Response time: The length of time it takes for your system to complete user inputs.
  • User/customer satisfaction: Measures the approval of users or customers using your system.
  • High-priority incidents: The number of serious technical issues that occur on your system.
  • Downtime: The amount of time your system spends offline.

Encourage knowledge sharing 

It doesn’t matter how comprehensive the data is that’s held in your SKMS. Information is only useful if it's presented in a way that all employees can understand, not just IT specialists.

That’s why accessibility should be a top concern during implementation. Interfaces should be intuitive and convenient. Staff should be able to share information at the click of a button.

Lastly, try to consider the different learning needs of your team. You might, for instance, include more images and infographics for visual learners or audio files to cater to auditory learners.

Prepare your team 

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Free to use image sourced from Unsplash

We’ve discussed the many benefits of a service management system, especially in supporting innovation. The move to a centralized system, however, will also be a learning curve for many employees. Long-term staff members especially will be used to using certain systems and procedures. So it’s important to prepare employees in advance to make this transition smoother.

Preparation could take the form of employee training. Let staff get hands-on with the ‘in progress’ version of your system. Help them understand how different interfaces work, and how they can access and share information. You could also provide a space where staff can access learning materials ‘on the go’ using mobile devices.

It may also be a wise decision to bring new talent to the team. Utilizing data driven recruiting can help you find candidates with existing knowledge of a SKMS. These employees can then support team members and share knowledge.

Innovate with a service knowledge management system 

There’s no denying that innovation is the key to business success. However, knowing where to innovate is difficult – especially when operating on a limited budget. A service knowledge management system ensures you deliver transformation to the most critical areas of your business.

Hopefully, you now have a stronger understanding of a SKMS. Why not use this knowledge to deliver the perfect implementation for your business? One thing for certain is that, for a forward-thinking innovative future, a SKMS is key.