Before we can know what knowledge to capture and why it is important we need to understand the difference between “Knowledge” and “Documentation”
What is Application Documentation Vs Application Knowledge:
Technical specifications within the code –Source code analysis primarily used in re-engineering applications –Extensive business rules and data cross-reference listings –Typically volumes of data with little information useful in supporting the application –Uses source code references in documentation (not very useful for support or users)
What is in people’s heads –Getting application knowledge out of the heads of few into the heads of the many –Practical knowledge used in support of specific application functions, output and users •Acquired over years of supporting applications •Personal notes and procedures that only the individual “Subject Matter Expert” (SME) knows •Informal •Passed by word of mouth or other undocumented methods.According to the Delphi Group: “A consulting company specializing in the emerging technologies of knowledge management and e-learning, about 70% of [an organization’s] knowledge resides solely in the minds of its employees, which leaves approximately 30 percent in externalized forms.” -Beazly, Boenisch, Harden, Continuity Management, 2000
Why is capturing application knowledge important?
Using this working definition of “Knowledge” we can see that for the “support analyst” to do their job with a minimum of wasted time, they need specific knowledge about the application that is both useful, current and relevant. More mistakes and wasted time are associated with supporting business applications simply because the support analyst does not have the necessary information about the critical elements and components of the application to provide fast, efficient and effective support to the application users.
What is typical is the support analyst has to scurry here and there to get what they need for any particular support event. Then because what they have done is seldom documented, this exercise is done over and over again for the same situation.
What a waste of time! What a waste of the users time while the support analyst trys to figure out the application even before they can address the issue at hand.
Over the last 20 years of Legacy Application Support outsourcing support to our customers CAI has come up with 20 standard knowledge content areas that have proven to the the most useful to the support analyst in both learning and supporting business applications. This is not to say that there cannot be others, because there are, depending on the business, application and environment. However, if we look at the 80/20 rule, these following content areas represent the 80% of useful knoweldge that the support annalyst needs to do their job – day to day – The specific content of the 21 knowledge areas can also be adjusted to fit the environment but here again the 80/20 rule applies.
The following pages will identify represent a small example sub-set of the knowledge content areas listed above:
- What is the definition of each knowledge content area?
- How is it used?
- Why is it important to the support analyst or business user?
- What does a sample of application knowledge content look like?
A more complete list of the AKC content areas can be discussed with anyone interested in CAI’s Application Knowledge Capture service offering.