Knowledge Centered Support
Knowledge-Centered Support (KCS) is a methodology and a set of practices and processes that focuses on knowledge as a key asset of the customer/technical support organization. Development began in 1992 by the Consortium for Service Innovation; a non-profit alliance of support organizations. Its premise is to capture, structure, and re-use technical support knowledge.
KCS seeks to:
- Create content as a by-product of solving problems, which is better known as within the ITIL incident management process, as well as the problem management process. As support analysts capture information related to an incident, they create knowledge that can be reused within the support process by other support analysts as well as customers with access to a self-service knowledge base.
- Evolve content based on demand and usage. As people interact with the knowledge base within the incident management process, they must review it before delivering the knowledge to a customer. If they discover the need to correct or enhance the knowledge, they will fix it at that time or flag it for another person to fix if they do not have the access authority to the knowledge. Under this model, knowledge is evolved just-in-time based on demand instead of just-in-case. This lowers the cost of knowledge management.
- Develop a knowledge base of an organization's collective experience to-date. New knowledge capture within the incident management process is an experience resulting from one interaction. The knowledge has not been validated or verified beyond the initial incident. Thus the initial knowledge is not as trusted in this state, which is referred to as Draft knowledge. It is not until reuse occurs that trust is improved. At some point the knowledge will be marked as trusted and either Approved for internal use or Published for self-service. The knowledge base under the KCS methodology includes knowledge that is at different states of trust and visibility. The collective experiences to date challenges the traditional thinking that all knowledge in a knowledge base must be perfect, validated, and highly trusted.
- Reward learning, collaboration, sharing and improving. The culture of the organization must change to recognize the value of an individual based on the knowledge they share that enables the organization to be more effective and efficient.
With over 15 years in development and over $50 million invested, KCS has been tried and tested by early adopters that include 3Com, Oracle, Novell, Compaq (now HP), VeriSign and BlackBerry. KCS is endorsed and evangelized by HDI, an association and certification body for technical service and support professionals.
Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL) is recognized as lacking a knowledge management strategy necessary to a service desk. Knowledge Management was not a defined process in ITIL v2. With the release of ITIL v3 in June 2007, Knowledge Management was defined as a required process. However, ITIL v3 does not provide sufficient detail and scope necessary to implement knowledge management. KCS compliments the ITIL framework by providing a strategy for capturing, structuring, and reusing knowledge within the service desk. Service management requires that knowledge be leveraged within incident management and problem management. Knowledge management also impact the request management, change management, and release management process within ITIL. KCS a prescriptive methodology that defines how to integrate knowledge management within the support organization.
In 2003, HDI partnered with the Consortium for Service Innovation to promote the learnings and experiences of the Consortium's members to the market. Working together, they captured this information into a three day workshop: The Knowledge Management Foundations: KCS Principles. Since that time, hundreds of companies have been learning about and implementing Knowledge Centered Support within their environments.
In 2005, the Consortium for Service Innovation introduced the KCS-Verified program for knowledge management software vendors. There are a number of popular software applications verified to enable the KCS best practices. Visit http://www.thekcsacademy.net/tools/ to learn more about KCS Verified products. This program defines the functional requirements that software vendors must implement to successfully enable KCS. Implementation is then verified by KCS certified at one of levels, "Aligned" or "Verified". Program implementation is enabled through experts through the body or private specialists such as DB Kay and Associates , The Verghis Group, and Klever. 
In 2006, the Consortium updated KCS to version 4.1 and published the Practices Guide. Version 5.0 and 5.1 were published in 2011. Version 5.3 was published in 2012. They continue to evolve KCS through the experiences of their members and other companies that share their personal stories.
In 2007, HDI introduced the Knowledge-Centered Support Principles Certification that allows individuals to demonstrate their knowledge of the KCS methodology and how to implement it. Over 600 companies now have KCS Certified individuals in their organizations.
In 2010 The KCS Academy was formed as an outreach company of the Consortium for Service Innovation. Development of the KCS Certified Publisher exam began and became publicly available in 2011. Additional certifications for the various KCS-advocated roles will be available through The KCS Academy in the future.
In 2013 HDI introduced the Knowledge-Centered Support Fundamentals Certification that allows individuals to demonstrate their knowledge of the KCS methodology. This certification is designed for organizations that want everyone on their team to have a fundamental understanding of KCS as a foundation for adopting the knowledge management best practices that integrate with various service management processes.