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A school help desk knowledge base

How To Build a Help Desk Knowledge Base: The 5-Step Guide for K-12 IT Admins

A school help desk knowledge baseYour K-12 IT support team holds all the cards when it comes to IT knowledge. That means your inbox and your school help desk are constantly being flooded with incoming service requests, one right after another.

After a while, you start to notice a trend. A lot of these requests look the same.

Responding to common issues over and over again leaves your team playing catch-up with incoming tickets, and can take up hours of your day. So what do you do?

By building an internal knowledge base, you can provide immediate answers to teachers, parents, staff, and everyone in between.

There’s only one small problem—building a comprehensive knowledge base is no easy feat. That’s why we’re giving you all the steps, tips, and best practices to quickly launch a help desk knowledge base that meets your district’s needs.

Starting with Step number one:

1. Knowledge base planning

Before you jump straight into creating a knowledge base, schedule a brainstorming session with your team to discover what topics you’ll need to cover.

Conduct an honest assessment of your district’s school help desk. Take a look at the most common questions and support requests that your team receives and prioritize answering those questions first. Some of the most common questions in a helpful knowledge base include:

  • Internet connectivity issues
  • Trouble logging into a desktop computer
  • Recovering deleted/missing files

Creating a knowledge base article for these will help get rid of a slew of incoming questions—but it still won’t be enough.

Consider the difficulty of the questions that are frequently asked. For more complex issues such as configuring user permissions in a 3rd party software tool or reimaging a compromised device, consider filming a short video walkthrough and adding it to your knowledge base.

Help desk knowledge base categories2. Launching your knowledge base project

Once you’ve completed the initial outline of your knowledge base, it’s time to divvy up a few articles to start with. But, before you start handing out assignments left and right, figure out who on your team is going to “own” your knowledge base project.

Knowledge base project management

Building a comprehensive knowledge base is a collaborative team effort, and the best way to ensure its successful launch is to have a dedicated project manager on your team. This team member will be in charge of monitoring project progress, assigning articles, and ensuring article quality.

This is by no means a full-time job, but it’s crucial for one of your team members to take responsibility for your knowledge base efforts. In short, if everybody owns it, then nobody does.

Getting started

You already have the experts in the room, so have them take turns drafting the self-service questions/issues identified in step one.

Since you’re starting from scratch, encourage your team to try out different ways of explaining answers to questions—maybe some make sense to include a video tutorial, maybe some should include screenshots, etc.

Including different media types (images, videos, etc.) will make your content easier to digest than an intimidating wall of text. If your requestors have difficulties reading overly technical and lengthy knowledge base articles, their questions will just end right back up in your service queue.

Outsource information when possible

One of the biggest challenges that keep K-12 IT teams from building a knowledge base is time constraints. When you’re too busy resolving the incoming help requests of an entire K-12 school district, how do you find time to contribute to your knowledge base?

The answer? Outsourcing information. There are hundreds of pre-existing knowledge bases that you can pull from to populate your own articles. Here are some examples that might work for you.

  1. If a teacher has trouble connecting their Chromebook to the school wifi, point them to the helpful Chromebook Help forum
  2. When showing teachers how to set set up and use GoGuardian for web filtering, provide them with a link to GoGuardian’s Teacher Resources and Getting Started Guide
  3. If teachers are reporting issues with inappropriate student behavior in Microsoft Teams meetings, direct them to the Microsoft Teams manage student participation page for self-service

There’s no reason (or need) for your team to spend time creating brand new content. Try leveraging what resources you already have available instead.

3.  Optimize your knowledge base for user experience

Now that you’ve outlined the goals of your knowledge base, assigned a few topics, and (hopefully) identified some external resources to pull from, it’s time to get everything set up.

The structure of your knowledge base is arguably its most important feature. Unless it’s easy to understand and navigate, the requestors in your district won’t use it. Here are some decisions you’ll need to make to ensure your knowledge base gets used.

What is your template for knowledge articles?

Templatizing your articles allows your team to publish content more efficiently and will make your knowledge base consistent from beginning to end.

Depending on the knowledge base tools your K-12 IT team has available, consider drawing inspiration from some pre-built knowledge base templates. These will allow you to spend less time on formatting, and instead, focus on producing helpful articles for your requestors.

How will you categorize your knowledge base content?

To help your requestors quickly find the information they need, you’ll want to set up individual categories within your knowledge base. Some of these categories could include:

  • A popular EdTech software in your district: Answer common questions related to popular software tools like Zoom, Powerschool, GoGuardian, etc.
  • Student Chromebook Issues: Address common concerns parents might have regarding student usage of Chromebooks and other classroom technologies
  • Classroom technology for teachers: Help teachers self-service questions on smart boards, projectors, audio equipment, etc.
  • General IT questions: Build a separate category for common IT concerns, such as forgotten passwords, internet connectivity issues, or recovering accidentally deleted files

Building out individual categories within your knowledge base requires both time and dedication, but it’s ultimately what will help requestors self-solve frequently encountered issues, resulting in fewer help tickets in your IT team’s inbox.

How will you handle the tougher questions?

While most common IT questions can be answered within your knowledge base, if a requestor can’t find the answer they’re looking for, they’ll have to submit a ticket.

Most of the time, this is because their question can only be answered by someone with significant experience in IT. However, if the answer is simple, consider adding the answer to their question to your knowledge base. This is a great method for uncovering potential topics your team may have missed and will allow you to efficiently build out your knowledge base over time.

help desk knowledge base article4. Define your process for knowledge base management

Once you’ve settled on a method for categorizing and producing your initial content, define what the process will be for regular updates and maintenance.

  • What steps does your IT team need to take to update new information within your knowledge base?
  • How does your team decide when a new topic or article should be added?
  • How do you delegate and prioritize those tasks, along with your regular service management workload?

Ideally, these decisions will be made by your team lead or your knowledge base project manager, however, most school districts don’t have the luxury of a massive IT department. If you’re working within a smaller team, make these decisions together and delegate tasks based on availability or subject-matter expertise.

5. Use school help desk software to streamline the knowledge base process, from creation to maintenance

Rome wasn’t built in a day. The same goes for your school district’s knowledge base.

By using school help desk software, your K-12 IT team can streamline support workflows by producing knowledge base articles and answering common questions in the same place your requestors go to request IT support.

Watch your IT service desk thrive.

A comprehensive knowledge base is your IT team’s first line of defense against common IT questions.

As you continue to add new articles and optimize it over time, your requestors will become more independent, user satisfaction will naturally increase, and your team will be relieved of time-consuming and repetitive tasks.

It’s a win-win for everyone.

At incident IQ, we understand the impact a help desk knowledge base can have on technology-powered school districts. That’s why we built a service management platform to streamline and automate the workflows of busy K-12 IT teams. Incident IQ automatically provides relevant KB articles when a ticket is submitted, helping users self-solve common issues and freeing up IT teams to focus on more high-value tasks.

Schedule a demo to learn about the impact Incident IQ can make in your district.

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