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Shift-left 1.0

Shift-left has been a trend in Service Management for some time. The idea of shifting the solution of problems to the “left”, and therefore to a lower skill and cost level, isn’t new. However, “nothing is as simple as it seems”. Shift-left requires not just an investment in time and technology, but also a change in the way we work.

What is Shift-left?

The principle is really simple: you’re sharing knowledge within the organisation. For example, specialists from the back office start sharing their knowledge with less specialised front office staff, enabling them to handle the more difficult requests themselves.

Often, we go one step further and share the knowledge of the front office staff with customers, so they themselves are able to solve their queries or problems.
So we shift our knowledge from the right (specialists) to the left (front office or customers).

What are the benefits of Shift-left?

Shift-left reduces the workload for both specialists, freeing up time for them to work on more complex and/or new projects. Furthermore, questions and problems get solved faster through the shared knowledge being up-to-date. This efficiency win consequently also results in cost savings. However, the most important benefit is the increased satisfaction and improved experience at various levels within the organisation.

Shift-left in practice: Shift-left 1.0

There are actually 2 crucial elements within, as we call it, shift-left 1.0:

On the one hand, we have the way we do knowledge management and, on the other, the use of a self-service portal to access this knowledge.
Let’s zoom in a bit on these elements and see how this works in practice.

Knowledge Management

The objective of shift-left 1.0 is to write down the knowledge stored in the specialists’ heads in a knowledge article. This knowledge article can then be used by front-office staff, for example, so that we don’t have to rely on the same specialists to handle a request all the time.

One of the best-known methods for developing and maintaining a knowledge database is Knowledge Centered Service (KCS). This methodology, developed by the Consortium for Service Innovation, provides guidelines for creating, managing, sharing and improving knowledge.

How it works. KCS asks specialists to:

  • To document how they handle requests
  • To bring knowledge up to date when needed
  • To share this knowledge using a knowledge database for easy access
  • To encourage each other to use the knowledge articles in order to learn and continuously improve

Benefits of the KCS principle:

  • Requests are resolved faster by using shared knowledge. This ensures improved customer satisfaction.
  • Better use of resources as we can assign more expensive specialists to new projects or more complex cases.
  • Building a ‘learning’ organisation.
  • Making an up-to-date knowledge database available as we review knowledge during reuse.
  • Supporting the self-service strategy by sharing knowledge with customer

KCS consists of 4 steps. Some tips for each step are listed below:

  • Capture knowledge only when needed, in other words knowledge is demand-driven.
  • Use the customer’s wording. This way, the customer will find this knowledge item more easily.
  • Formulate it as a question, this way the customer will also search.
  • Capture only relevant information and as concisely as possible.
  • Add keywords to improve search results.
  • Use a template with a fixed structure. An example: the question, context, solution, cause (if necessary) and metadata.
  • Use concise sentences. This contributes to the searchability of your knowledge article.
  • Always search the knowledge database first to see if there is an existing knowledge article.
  • If you find a knowledge article, use it to complete the request.
  • Link the knowledge article to the request. This will make this knowledge article more relevant and therefore rank higher in the search results.
  • Review and improve the knowledge article as it is used. This ensures that improving and updating knowledge becomes a shared responsibility.
  • When you find a knowledge article, here are the options:
    • Use
    • Flag if it is not up-to-date, but you do not have the knowledge to modify it yourself
    • Improve if it is not up-to-date and you yourself have the knowledge to modify it
    • Add if none exists and you think it will have value in the future

Self-Service Portal

The second cornerstone of shift-left 1.0, in addition to knowledge management, is the creation of a self-service portal. This is a central hub where customers can go to report problems, request something new, ask questions, view important broadcasters (e.g. planned changes, outages of certain services/applications, etc.) and access the knowledge database.

The success of a self-service portal depends heavily on its adoption. Customers must experience the benefits and thus be helped faster and easier. The following can help in this process:

Recommended reading:

Key success factors of a self service portal

Shift-left 2.0 en Automatisation

Do you have any questions or want to know more about how to apply Shift-left in your organisation? Then don’t hesitate to get in touch!

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Jordy Mertens

COO – Senior Service Management Consultant