The lifecycle of a knowledge base article begins with a draft and progresses through article retirement. The lifecycle stages are referred to as Workflow States.
Understanding Workflow States
- Draft: The Draft state is where new knowledge articles are born; the creation phase. Incomplete articles, autosaved drafts are Draft knowledge articles. While in "Draft", anyone can edit the article.
- Review: The review phase, awaiting review by editor or superuser. An article enters in review state when it is either Pending for Approval or Pending for Review. When a writer submits a new article or modify a disapproved article, it enters into Pending for Approval state. However, when an article is due for review after a period of time, it is sent to "Pending for Review" state.
- Pending Publishing: The state is for knowledge articles that have been scheduled for publishing and will be picked up automatically by the auto-publish job when the publish Date/Time will come.
- Published: Published state is for knowledge articles that are marked for consumption (view/search) either internally or externally based upon the permissions set (Private/Protected/Public) for the knowledge article.
- Expired: Marked as expired, the end of an article's lifecycle. Expired state is reached when knowledge articles reach their set expiration date; these knowledge articles should be reviewed to determine if they need to be updated, republished, or purged based on business needs. Expired articles are not available to end users for consumption.
- Delete: Delete state should be used for knowledge articles that are okay to delete. This serves as a symbolic recycle bin for knowledge articles to be purged.
At the beginning of its life cycle, the article enters the pre-publish review and approval process. If approved, the article is published. Published articles can be reviewed and retired/expired from use, as required. Retired articles continue to reside in the knowledge base, and although they are not visible to end users, admin users can search for them. Knowledge is never complete; it continues to evolve as it is used. Within this evolution, the article life cycle is non-linear, articles may move through the various states in many different ways.
While in workflow, article is assigned a status in knowledge base. Status denote the current phase of an article within the article's life cycle. Each phase determines factors such as:
- Type of work the article requires
- Status transition options for the article
- User viewing permissions
- Whether the article is searchable
An article can have any of the statuses from the following list in PHPKB knowledge base software.
- Saved Drafts: Saved drafts are those articles that are in-progress and are not ready to be published yet.
- Pending: Articles that are pending for approval. These are generally submitted by Writers and need the approval of either an editor or a superuser.
- Disapproved: Articles that were pending for approval but disapproved by editors or super users. They are not displayed in the front end.
- Approved: Published articles in the knowledge base are called approved articles.
- Featured: They are same as approved articles but have more priority over them in the sense that featured articles appear on top of other approved articles in category page and search results. If you wish to give more exposure to certain articles in your knowledge base, you can mark them as featured. They will also appear on the home page under "Featured" section.
- Expired: Articles that have passed their expiry date. PHPKB has a facility to set an expiry date for the article to control the life-cycle of an article. Once the expiry date is over, the article automatically stops appearing in the knowledge base. The expiry date can be changed/extended/removed from the "Edit Article" screen.
- Deleted: Articles that have been removed from the knowledge base are sent to "Trash Box". You can recover or purge (permanently delete) them from "Trash Box".
Article Life Cycle Walkthrough
In a typical organization, a article life cycle could be covered by several different teams (customer service representative, content authors, and content reviewers). For instance, a customer service representative resolves a case and proposes a draft. Content writer then creates a knowledge article and submits it for review. An article goes through approval process and approver sets the article into published state. In PHPKB knowledge base software, article life cycle is categorized in two parts:
The following example illustrates a typical life cycle until the article is published.
- The author identifies the need for new knowledge and creates an unfinished article having status- "Draft".
- When the author is finished, the article is promoted into the actual workflow. At this stage, the article's content might be visible to some admin users as per their admin level. At this stage, the content has not been reviewed and approved for use and article has "Pending for Approval" status.
- Now the writer submits the article for "Review" and suppose a approver (Subject Matter Expert) reviews the article, is not satisfied with content and doesn't approve it, the article assigned a "Disapproved" status and is re-assigned to the author for additional work.
- The author completes the required editing and resends the article to be reviewed again by an approver.
- Suppose the article passes the review this time after content technical accuracy verification by approver.
- Now the article is ready to be published, an approver sets the publish date (date and time when article will start appearing in end user knowledge base) and expiration date for the article and now article reaches to "Pending Published" state.
- A system job moves the scheduled article to the Published state on the specified publishing date. The article is "Published" with either "Approved" or "Featured" status as set by the approver and becomes available to all users based on user permissions.
The following example illustrates a typical life cycle after the article is published.
- The admin users can set a future "Review Date" either at the time of creation or later, to ensure that the article content remains updated and valid for end users. System sends periodic emails to the article author that articles (documents) to be checked after a period of time if they have not been checked (updated) that same period of time. This is to prevent documents unknowingly becoming outdated. Article owner (author) is notified via email when the article is due for review.
- The author finds the artcle in admin area and makes the necessary modifications and submit the article for "Review". The system at the stage assigns the "Pending for Review" status to article.
- If an article is in published state and changes are made to it by a writer, then existing (already published) copy of the article will remain published and the modified copy by author (writer-level) will be marked as pending. Till the time, pending copy is approved, the previous version of that article will remain published.
- An approver approves the article and article enters into "Published" stage again.
- The system job would make the article expired on expiry due date and set its status to "Expired". The "Expiry Date" is useful because, the article becomes obsolete at some point e.g. time-bound articles such as announcement and offers would retire itself without remembering you to expire them manually after a certain date. The expired article remains in the knowledeg base but stop appearing for end users.