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How can you build up an ITIL Service Knowledge Management System (SKMS)?

itil_v3_whiteIn my earlier ITIL articles I’ve talked a little about Configuration Management, CMDBs and discovery tools that make building and maintaining accurate and current CI data more manageable. Today I thought I’d expand on this theme by touching on our experiences of another element of the Service Knowledge Management System (SKMS).

As well as the CMDB ITIL suggests that your SKMS should also contain a Known Error Database (KEDB) along with a couple of other information repositories which I’m not going to address in this article (otherwise we’re all going to suffer from acronym overload).

The KEDB is essentially a repository of potential issues and suggested resolution activities that can be used as a source of reference during Problem Management and other Service Restoration processes.

Technology vendors will often provide KEDB content with the products that they ship using a variety of labels and delivery mechanisms. Examples of this might be simple Help text, Expert Advise within Systems Administration tools, or embedded links to relevant Web content (think online MS help search).

However, though without doubt very useful, these sources of information are often proprietary in nature and almost always force you to use multiple tools (one for each Vendor’s products), which brings its own problems. For the avoidance of doubt, let me be clear that I’m not knocking the suppliers for this, as at least they are making an effort to help us. But we know from painful experience in other technologies how unlikely it is to get to a common standard adopted for KEDB data, so I’m not holding my breath on that idea!

Notwithstanding the issue of the heterogeneous nature of the vendor content, what about including the KEDB entries which are by far the most valuable; those which are specific to your individual environment or come from in-house Application Services?

To make the KEDB a truly useful and definitive reference point within our ITIL SKMS, I think we need to find a way to access all of this information from a single portal, and have the flexibility to add entries as our knowledge and experience grows or new (in-house) Services are introduced.

There’s no doubt any number of ways of achieving this, but I thought I would share a solution that Orb Data’s field Technical Services Consultants have put together that you might find interesting; Using a Message Catalogue

By integrating the implementation of a KEDB with the Event Management system, the solution that the guys developed helps get an understanding of events and alerts (and how to fix them) much earlier in the process, which can only be a good thing.

I hope that this will prove helpful and perhaps inspire some of you to look at pulling together a KEDB in your organisations. If you’re interested to learn more, then I’m always happy to share our experiences of deploying and using our capabilities, so feel free to give me a call at Orb Data on +44 (0)1628 550450 or email me at steve.lawrence@orb-data.com.

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