Interview with Aprill Allen

Written on April 4, 2013



Here's the interview Aprill Allen (Knowledge Bird) on her experiences in the world of knowledge management.

Q: Can you talk a little bit about your background

My background is in technical support. I've worked for internet service providers, telcos and financial institutions, starting at telephone support and then into network operations roles. My responsibilities over that time have included monitoring and maintaining networks, running batch operations, monitoring and supporting systems, and of course helping those people who use them. These days, I consult on knowledge management from time to time, I help software companies and enterprises use knowledge management to build customer engagement platforms, and I contribute content on IT and knowledge management to a few places.

Q: Can you talk a little bit about what led you to found your company, what was the problem that motivated you?

 I left IT after 13 years and in 2010, I went into business for myself, as a freelance copywriter. It wasn't until I'd left IT, that I could articulate what was missing from it. Good knowledge management practices. I'd experienced many baptisms by fire over the years and I knew that when I did have access to the relevant knowledge, those stressful moments were much more manageable. So I turned my focus to writing about knowledge management.

Q: How did you get started?

I can't say I had a big picture strategy mapped out. I really only knew what the next step needed to be. When I identified that knowledge management was what I had to focus on, I started my blog at knowledgebird.com and I wrote an eBook called A Simple Guide to Creating a Knowledge Base. I promoted it in a couple of LinkedIn groups and that's how I found out about the IT Service Management Forum (itSMF) and a white paper competition that the Australian chapter of the organisation were running at the time. I entered my eBook and won the 2011 award. Since then, I've presented the paper at several conferences and seminars. 

Q: What are the two or three things that you have been able to accomplish that you take the most pride in or satisfaction from?

Winning the white paper award was pretty exciting, but I'm also proud of how I've gone way out of my comfort zone to present to audiences in Australia and internationally. This little introvert has managed to build a well-recognised profile in the enterprise IT community. And not without the help of some wonderful contacts along the way that have become such great friends to me.

Q: What has been the biggest surprise? 

It's easy to find yourself in a bubble at times when you're surrounded by people who share similar opinions to you. That's why I enjoy attending events, like the itSMF seminars, where I can talk to people who have those roles I used to have. It's a reminder that those same problems I experienced haven't changed, and the biggest surprise is that I'm surprised by that, every time.

Q: What development, event, or new understanding since you started has had the most impact on your work?

I've always felt that you can achieve better knowledge management practices no matter what tools are available. After all, it's very much a cultural program—with a few processes for streamlining. So, I try to look for better ways of using what we have, already. Knowledge management is already at the bottom of the to-do list in many situations, too much change and cost in one hit will keep it there.

Q: Any other remarks or suggestions for entrepreneurs?

Get started with your knowledge management initiatives as early on in the life of your business as you can. If your goal is to scale up, then your strategy is to build the knowledge base for your customers and for your future staff members while the momentum gradually builds. As each new customer asks a question, capture that question with your answer in whatever knowledge base you choose to use and make it available for later reuse. Tell each new staff member that this is how stuff gets done and expect the same from them. Always be reinforcing the goals of your knowledge management practices and recognise those who are great contributors. 

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