Formal Knowledge Management Systems in Shared Services
While the primary attributes of any successful shared services implementation can be segmented into the categories of People, Process, Technology, and Strategy, the categories are both interdependent and constantly changing during each phase of implementation and beyond. The process of Knowledge Management – the act of capturing, developing, and sharing organizational knowledge1 – is critical to achieving and sustaining performance objectives within and across each category.
A recent iPollingTM question asked, “What best describes your Knowledge Management processes for capturing, sharing, and reusing lessons learned?”, with the follow-up question, “Which of the following is the most effective lever in sharing knowledge?” The company that created the poll was interested in how other leading companies share knowledge within their organization and, specifically, what it takes to get everyone to participate.
Let’s take a look at the results. To the first question, “What best describes your Knowledge Management processes…” almost half of the companies follow an informal process where they don’t formally document knowledge and instead do their best to communicate lessons learned, where appropriate. One-third of the companies are on the other end of the continuum, by following a formalized process with a central system for capturing lessons learned that has management oversight. The remaining 21% have a process that is “somewhat formalized”, with at least one employee assigned to coordinate Knowledge Management activities.
When considering responses to the second question, “What is the most effective lever?”, performing the fundamentals well by having “a formal methodology which describes what to do, how to do it, and when to do it” and also providing “training and support in facilitating and supporting sharing knowledge” were the top two selections. Having an automated system to enter/approve lessons learned was the next most popular lever, followed by setting goals and performance measures for knowledge management and having visible senior management engagement.
Here are some of the additional comments provided by members:
· Knowledge Management needs to be defined, documented, and formalized to have any chance of getting everyone to follow the same set of rules.
· In conjunction with leadership support, sharing knowledge needs to be simple, intuitive, and via a means in which teammates don’t view it as a separate task. As soon as the task becomes onerous, you lose traction and buy-in from teammates.
· Where appropriate, updating process documentation is a requirement. However, that should be supplemented with process meetings developing, discussing, and sharing best practices. Both regional meetings within a regional center and global process meetings coordinated by the Global Process Owners provide a venue for supplementing/enhancing the process documentation/best practice/knowledge sharing.
· We are trying to use SharePoint as a repository for Shared Services content, but it’s very limited and without critical mass. We do encourage collaboration and sharing of experiences between our various Business Support Centers, but methods are very informal at this time.
· Knowledge Management is a broad topic with 3 primary categories: 1) Process/policy/training documents 2) Idea management and 3) Informal tips and lessons learned. At our company, we believe in global standard tools and processes and have a reasonable formal set up to handle the first two. At the same time, we are currently trying to take it to next level by implementing smart tools and also mapping our process hierarchy with industry standards.
· At the higher levels of the organization, our lessons learned process is well defined and carefully scrutinized from capturing to reusing lessons. The process is now being established at lower levels of the organization and we’re trying to work out our own lessons-learned business practices while complying with the framework.
· Just placing ideas of best practice on a SharePoint or other such resource does not get the message out. Formalized training sessions on what and how to implement are required.
How formal is your company’s process for Knowledge Management? Is this an area where a modest investment could yield significant results?
Who are your peers and how are you collaborating with them?
“iPollingTM” is available exclusively to Peeriosity member company employees, with consultants or vendors prohibited from participating or accessing content. Members have full visibility to all respondents and their comments. Using Peeriosity’s integrated email system, Peer MailTM, members can easily communicate at any time with others who participate in iPolling.
Peeriosity members are invited to log into www.peeriosity.com/shared-services/ to join the discussion and connect with Peers. Membership is for practitioners only, with no consultants or vendors permitted. To learn more about Peeriosity, click here.