Interview with Frank Roelofs, Knowledge Manager

Tell us a bit about your career at Leaseweb so far? 

My career at Leaseweb started as a Trainee in the Technical Support department, a little under four years ago. As a Trainee, I was part of a group of 14 learning how to deal with incidents, on mostly Linux distros on Dedicated Servers among other things. It was interesting learning a lot of technical skills. 

During my first year at Leaseweb, was working in shifts and was in a team with a lot of knowledge, which meant that I could learn a lot in a relatively short time. Funny thing is most people from that team still work at Leaseweb, but we all moved in different directions 

From working in Technical Supportrealized that liked tackling the bigger tasks, where more communication should be in place, such as preparing maintenanceWhat I could see was that there was a lot of room to improve our processes and documentation.  

What was interesting to me was how to deal with the processes in order to solve these problems. Who should be involved? And how can we optimize everything?  

What exactly does a Knowledge Manager do? 

In the broader sense of things, a Knowledge Manager takes care of internal and external knowledge at a companyThis involves thinking about how knowledge should be displayed and which systems require knowledge. It’s also important to consider which processes have moments where documentation is needed.  

At Leaseweb, we have knowledge owners in most departments that take care of writing and updating certain documents – in these cases, I play an editorial roleFor other departments, I am helping out colleagues with writing new articles and coming up with new usable pages. 

One of the big projects we worked on in the last year was creating a new Knowledge Base for our customers. Both the design and the process on how to publish items needed an update. The design was the easy part. Implementing a new process was more challenging. The goal was to simplify the process by removing one system for our stakeholders.  

This Knowledge Base (KB) you speak of, how did you go about creating that?

It started with an idea. We were maintaining two knowledge systems. One external facing one and an internal facing one. For both we’re using Confluence. But it does not really make sense to maintain two systems and the user experience is not the best to say the least. Every Product Owner, Product Manager etc. had to update articles on both systems.  

Initially, I really want to improve the process and the idea arose to make it into one system. Luckily, we found a couple of apps for Confluence which enable you to publish from one Confluence system to another. This made the process a lot easier for our stakeholdersThe Knowledge Base was built in collaboration with one of our Engineering teams and after everything was in place, we saw an increase in the usage of the Knowledge Base by almost 100%, which indicates that it was a huge success.  

Any advice for other IT businesses who are looking to create a Knowledge Base of their own? 

It all starts with what your customers are searching for and you should always think about usability for your customers. It’s also worth considering the following: 

  • Is the creation of documentation wellaligned with the company’s processes including ownership of said knowledge?  
  • A lot can be done just by having data on how your current Knowledge Base is used. Where do your customers click first? Do they know where they need to go?  

For us, it was pretty easy. The first thing almost all visitors do is go to the search bar and type what they want to find. I think this an easy rule of thumb for most KBs or search engines in general. Compare it to visiting Google search. You are not sure what is there or you would have typed in the URL of that website in the first place. It also makes sense from a psychological point of view. Humans, in general, like to ask questions before investing time to find things out on their own. Taking the human factor into consideration, having your search bar as the item that catches your attention makes perfect sense. 

The rest for creating a Knowledge Base is up for discussion but should be based on logic. For us, making a difference between products and our Customer Portal makes sense as well as aligning the Knowledge Base where possible with the website. Do not be afraid to ask colleagues or customers to find topics on your newly created structure. Someone without knowledge on how your Knowledge Base is built is the perfect test subject to learn about the findability of your content. 

Have you implemented any other processes or systems at Leaseweb? 

When I started working as part of the Customer Experience team in Leaseweb (December 2017) I was part of a team of 3. Between us, we needed one way of working that everybody felt comfortable with. 

With JIRA being used elsewhere in the company, I saw an opportunity to have our team use the same tools as our stakeholders. We made a start with using the scrum methodology and it was put to good use. After around a year of having this implemented in the team, I was asked to help the other teams in our Marketing department to start using JIRA as well in order to improve team interaction and align processesI used the same approach to roll out JIRA and scrum ways of working, but I had to be flexible and think about what was needed from their side. And creating a way of working for that as well.  

How is the Marketing team benefitting from Scrum methodology? 

Iteams have the same way of working, it is easier to understand what others are doing. Transparency really helps in creating understanding. You can see progress; it is visible that projects are moving forward. Also, it is easier to delegate tasks, because it is now based on a set of requirements that are set between teams. All these things contribute to better collaboration within a department and ultimately a better satisfaction in the workplace 

What else are you looking to achieve at Leaseweb?

Next to my day-to-day job, I like organizing events at work with the Fun and Pride committeewho organizes small events and represents who we are as a company. For exampleI’m in charge of organizing the annual LAN Party.  

We are a hosting provider with a lot of people who like working with technology. A LAN party fits this perfectly. We’re doing this now for two years and it’s been a great success both years. We have a pizza-baker and everybody brings their PC or console. Last year we added board games to it as well. It’s a fun event where you get to know your colleagues on a different level.  

What about life goals, what’s at the top of your bucket list? 

I am the kind of person that does things as they come. I travelled a lot in the past, and I still like to visit foreign countries. Although, to me, there is not one country that would be on top of my bucket list. I would like to get my skydiving certificate or my diving certificate. I’m competitive minded, so I like getting the most out of things. Not sure what would be on top though.  

If you could fill a swimming pool with one thing, what would that be? 

This is probably the most difficult question asked to me. However, with deduction, we can get pretty far regarding this question. The answer also kind of depends if you own the pool or not and if the content of the pool should be supplied by me or someone who would donate it to me. Also, what use would the pool have? Let’s say we’re going to use the pool to swim in. The easy answer would be water, preferably non-salt, as I would find the idea of swimming in a pool of edibles or money not very attracting. For form, it would then be nice to have some plants in there alongside some non-aggressive, non-poisonous fish so I have something to look at. If I take it a little further, I should be able to breathe underwater. 

If there is no use case for the pool, other than filling it whatever I find suitable. I would for sure fill it with Magic the Gathering cards. This is my biggest hobby and I do like the smell of freshly printed cardboard so that would make the most sense to me. 

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