What’s Answer Management, and Why Should I Care?

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Knowledge Management Pitfalls

The shortcomings of Knowledge Management are key to Answer Management. Knowledge Management has been an enterprise pursuit for two decades. Its goal is to create a process for capturing, distributing, and effectively using knowledge.  The benefits are huge. It creates an asset of preserved intellectual capital with the potential to improve business decisions, increase efficiency, accelerate innovation, speed on-boarding practices, and generally improve user satisfaction. It’s been a long and expensive process, but companies have been relatively successful at building comprehensive libraries of information. The real problem is adoption. Value is only created when people consume knowledge, and they aren’t.

Employees want the information locked in Knowledge Management solutions, but they can’t find it fast enough (and when that happens, they don’t come back for more). McKinsey says the average employee wastes 20% of their time searching for information; the equivalent of not coming to work for a full day every week. This is a serious problem worth solving, and there’s a solution.

Industry leaders are turning to Answer Management, but what is it?

Answer Management unlocks the value of documented company knowledge to the workplace. It creates an information layer based on questions and answers (Q&A) that simplify access, and provides the missing context documents need to get found.

The Answer Management layer sits between employees and existing knowledge libraries. Instead of requiring employees to search through information silos, it lets them ask questions and get simple answers.

Answer Management

5 Pillars of Answer Management

  1. Short answers: The Nielsen Norman Group found that when an article is over 111 words, users only read 20-28% of the text. Knowledge documents are long and contain answers to numerous questions. When a person has a question, they must sift through unwanted information to find what they need. This is not ideal for users who need fast direction so they can get back to work. Answer Management provides bite-sized answers to quickly answer questions. The answers are linked to source documents so users can drill into more detail when necessary.
  2. Simple English: Enterprise content is written by experts, using the language of their expertise – product guides written by product managers, hiring policies written by an HR directors, IT knowledge articles written by technical experts, and so on. Jargon makes content hard to find and harder to understand. Answer Management sets guidelines for the simplicity of language, aiming for a Flesch-Kincaid 9th grade reading level, avoiding acronyms and overly specific industry terms.
  3. Accessibility: When an employee has a question and is forced to go search for an answer, it takes an average of 23 minutes and 15 seconds to return to task. Answer Management removes the cognitive overhead of switching context by enabling users to get answers wherever they work. The answer layer is made accessible from any application so they don’t have to go to a repository and search for a document. If an employee spends all day working in SAP processing orders and they have a question about SAP, those questions should be answerable from within that application. This goes for Workday, ServiceNow, Salesforce and any other workflow application too.
  4. Relevance: When employees use the search feature in a repository and are not given back relevant information, they will not come back. Answer Management changes the nature of search for the better. The Q&A layer serves as a level of metadata to be navigated with search. Instead of searching documents for keywords, Answer Management matches questions to previously answered questions that are tied to an answer, and then a source document. The result is more reliable search, providing more relevant results, and an enhanced user experience.
  5. Automation: The amount of knowledge that is trapped in the heads of employees and across repositories is too large to manage manually. Answer Management is made possible on a large scale with automation. Machine learning and natural language processing can be used to break down long-form documentation into Q&A, and to capture new Q&A organically from employee interactions. All of this is monitored with human oversight to ensure accuracy.

Kaleo Software automates the implementation of Answer Management. Finally there’s a solution to help you realize the full benefits of Knowledge Management. In just a few weeks, the value of existing knowledge is unleashed to the business, giving actionable information when and where it’s needed to restore employee productivity. Haven’t embarked on your Knowledge Management journey? Not a problem–we’ll help you get started the right way so you hit the ground running with content that’s fully optimized for user adoption. 

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Chris Hill

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