Most IT environments need a help-desk application of some kind -- a central information repository where common problems and solutions can be looked up quickly and added to over time. One of the more creative possibilities I've seen involves using Microsoft Outlook and Exchange public folders together as a knowledge-base solution.
In many ways, this makes a lot of sense. You're leveraging existing storage and search capabilities in Microsoft Outlook. .Plus, if you do most of your work in Microsoft Outlook anyway, you don't have to switch to an external window to access the knowledge base.
Outlook Knowledge Base from Kalmstrom.nu is a free knowledge-base system that installs in Microsoft Outlook and runs via Exchange public folders.
The whole program runs directly in Microsoft Outlook so no additional programs need to be installed. It can work as a standalone product or with Kalmstrom's Public Folder HelpDesk for Outlook product.
It is compatible with all versions of Microsoft Outlook, from Outlook 97 up to Outlook 2007, and even Outlook Web Access (OWA).
When set up, the appropriate public folders in Exchange Server will appear with the Outlook Knowledge Base interface, which includes a full-text search box. When you type in a search term, all the articles that match that term are returned in a list that's arranged by user-definable categories.
Creating a new knowledge base article is also easy. The body of the article can be formatted inrich-text, and is tracked by (among other things) problem type, subject and article creator.
If you're using the Public Folder HelpDesk for Outlook application as well, a trouble ticket created in that program can be converted into a knowledge base article by simply pushing a button.
About the author: Serdar Yegulalp is editor of Windows Insight, a newsletter devoted to hints, tips, tricks, news and goodies for all flavors of Windows users.
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