A question at the KnowledgeBoard set me thinking on how to leverage and work with the FAQ and Q&A as knowledge practices.
My first surprise came when I realized there were many more FAQ specific tools than what I imagined. Had assumed the main area for FAQ application was web self-service - reducing the phone time and providing cost savings by shifting the burden to the end-user.
A closer look shows FAQs as a versatile knowledge representation, a growing genre with a focus on providing solutions, helping with self-learning and capturing 'smarts'.
Similarities to problems
We have well-defined objects for dealing with 'problems' , templates that have established fields, e.g. name, description, context, solution, author, related issues, root causes, work-a-rounds, escalation workflow and more. Many of these have been adopted for FAQ entries.
FAQ systems now also follow the paths for compiling, publishing and ensuring pattern adoption. There is often an (informal) 'community' that vets solutions and monitors the list for applicability and usefulness (often helped by tracking metrics from the web). FAQ entries now focus on issue definition, and provide more explicit context, give examples and include pointers to deeper stuff to encourage learning and promote understanding.
With careful construction and thought, the FAQ can:
- capture common heuristics
- help with self-education & learning
- lead to experts and deeper content
- show gaps in corporate / group knowledge
- provide feedback on product and service defects (if tracked)
The FAQ is certainly growing up