Treat your KCS Implementation as a Program – Not a Project
Why Treat KCS as a Program?
The general definition delineating a project vs program is relatively simple: there’s no defined END to a program, whereas projects have explicitly defined end states.
Similarly, in Knowledge-Centered Services (KCS), we don’t have an end to what we do overall. We do implement projects to move the program forward, such as with “adoption” and tooling changes. There is constant care and feeding needed to ensure success, and that leads to being a program with no end-state defined, just normal business operations.
One of the biggest things we should focus on with defining KCS as a program is something that underpins the entire mindset that will lead to success: people first! We need understand the needs of our teams and build the program to deliver on those needs. In part this means we should staff the KCS program with support roles to help retain focus in the right areas.
Staffing KCS Program with Support Roles
Foremost, a dedicated program manager is essential. The program needs that dedication and focused attention. Too often, we’ve seen KCS program management as an add-on to someone else’s primary role. When that happens, things get dropped, the program becomes compromised, and priorities refocused elsewhere while KCS simmers on the backburner. Don’t let that happen.
From there, take a hard look at your specific org’s needs and where various roles may best benefit and support the program. Do this by looking at strategic vs tactical/logistic needs and roles that can achieve those goals. Look at technical vs administrative. Do you have a business systems administrator and data analysis team to lean on, or do you need to staff that yourself?
Capacity planning for your org’s size and support needs is also important. In one specific case, I actually went against traditional KCS philosophies and staffed my team with a writer, even though that is typically a non-essential or irrelevant for a KCS program. In that case, we had a need to off-load some content backlog and feedback work to give capacity back to our specialists and KDEs, with an eye to centralizing some larger scale efforts. This played into a bigger strategic and cultural effort as it helped connect the solve and evolve loops as well.
Create Cross-Functional Teams
Begin building from the bottom up by using cross-functional teams to create collaboration and trust across departments and orgs.
One core method is through the KCS Council – pull in a dev rep, coach, agent, manager, IT, analytics, and stakeholders in other orgs. Ensuring you have this visibility in and by the council from the start will help to solidify the importance of the program and aids in buy-in down the line.
Continue on with a Coaches Council and KDA Council to continue cross-functionally focused efforts in those areas as well. This all helps drive a shared ownership culture, which is 100% the Collective Ownership model in the KCS mindset. Silo demolition in the name of collective ownership from the start builds the solid base upon which we can change culture.
Ensure QA Checkpoints are in Place and Monitored
Health checks are critical, both to understand where the program is, as well as how to move it forward to the next phase or level. Using tools like the Content Standard Checklist, Performance Adherence Review, service KPI tracking, and correlating those all to KCS activities and outcomes will give you a good view of progress and stalling point. From an external perspective, using Customer Feedback, article, case, and web metrics can all combine to build a story about the success of the program even in the early days.
From a tactical perspective, ad especially in the SaaS world, the devops concept of microservices helps with potential automation and efficiencies as well as content governance to help ensure we achieve “good enough to solve.” Monitoring and logging is a key concept in DevOps that can really work into deeper strategic choices or surgical tactics to target improvements and growth of the program in the right ways, not just the ways we THINK are right. Using real-time data to validate our assumptions is important here.
Develop a Program Roadmap for Continuous Improvements
Cross-functional team alignment is a must again. Build-in that growth mindset to help drive continuous improvements from milestone to milestone. Refine and clarify your roadmap as you build it getting more granular as you go so you can begin to see where the small wins start to connect to larger goals and outcomes. Leverage your strategic framework combined with data-driven analysis to validate and inform your future roadmaps… which of course, should be living documents and flexible enough to allow for the data to pivot you when things aren’t working. Once you have that roadmap drafted out, look for the areas like People, Process, Tool, & Metrics, and automate wherever possible.
Communicate, Communicate, Communicate
Use tools like All Hands meetings. Recognition programs, Newsletters, Slack / IM, wikis, and yes even email. Just remember that one email does not a communication make. Use a multi-modality approach combined with repetition over time.
In all your communications: pay attention to the specific audiences, tailor the right messaging focus for each. Everyone needs and cares about different things as it relates to their roles, so make sure to keep the “WIIFM” (what’s in it for me) mindset when delivering information up and down the chain. Hit that drumbeat of culture change and collective ownership to engender trust. The nuances of how we speak about the program really have an impact on how the program is perceived. Pay attention to how your communications are being received… are you building a feeling of trust in your teams? KCS is mainly a culture and human skills change/shift and takes time to really solidify, and then maintain, all rooted in trust… communicate that trust with your audiences.
When you begin looking at your KCS implementation as a program instead of a project, you begin setting it up for those longer-term successes. You begin making choices based on bigger strategies that will support growth and innovation. Set up as a program, you build in from day one sustainability and focus; priority and attention that assures you are solid ground to support the possibilities for success. As a project, KCS is nothing more than a short-term proof of concept. As a program, it becomes a strategic vision that can permeate culture, mindset, and directly impact the company’s, and more importantly your customer’s, success.
KCS® is a service mark of the Consortium for Service InnovationTM. The above content has been remixed/derived from the KCS v6 Practices Guide by Consortium for Service Innovation which is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License. Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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