How HP does KM
How does an organization create a common framework, processes and culture for knowledge transfer? And why should it do that? Stan Garfield, manager of Hewlett-Packard’s Worldwide Consulting & Integration KM Program, discussed these issues in a webinar hosted by KM Chicago on March 14. His presentation, which this report is based on, was received at the offices of Factiva in the Chicago Loop and Allstate in Northbrook (http://kmchicago.blogspot.com/).
Like many large information-driven organizations, Hewlett Packard has a knowledge management strategy based on people, processes and technology. After the merger with Compaq in 2002, integrating the KM programs of the consulting businesses meant re-working the components to place less emphasis on technology and more on people and the way they worked. There entered the challenge of creating the common framework, processes and culture for knowledge transfer, and the advent of the HP Services Consulting & Integration KM Program.
Everybody gets on board
The mission of the HP Services Consulting & Integration KM Program, or HP KM, is to increase the reuse of intellectual capital to:
- Increase the win rate
- Drive down sales and delivery costs
- Increase engagement quality
A key element in the HP KM plan is encouraging, sometimes enforcing, work habits that make knowledge sharing and re-use an automatic response. The expectation that people will contribute to the knowledge base is built early in the sales cycle. Individuals are asked to commit in writing to share information during and after engagements and are rewarded with KM Stars Incentive Points. Metrics used to track contributions are also used in performance reviews as an added inducement. The objective is to ingrain habits of knowledge sharing so that it becomes a part of the culture.
To facilitate the flow, KM processes are embedded in an engagement. Teams have to look for content to leverage, like proposal templates, project profiles, industry successes, solutions, or compelling stories that can be built into new projects. And they are required to document where they looked and what they are re-using.
Engagement Knowledge Map
An aid in the process is the Engagement Knowledge Map which is a matrix of processes and tools to guide teams to appropriate resources, databases, or expertise during the stages of an engagement. The process map can be searched globally or on a knowledge network devoted to an industry, solution or functional role.
A good example of how this works is found in the proposal and presentation processes. The Engagement Knowledge Map points to the Proposal Web and Presentation Builder. These are web-based tools that automate and build parts of documents using templates containing the most current language, branding and suggested content. In a sense, they represent a collection of proven best practices that save time and provide consistency to the HP image.
Once an engagement is finished, deliverables can be contributed to the Project Document Library where they are tagged with metadata and are searchable firm-wide. Other project teams can then find documents related to a particular industry or solution and adapt them for their needs. In this way the knowledge base grows out of past experience, is enriched with new input and paves the way for the next project.
Content in a Three-Layer Cake
Content resides in many repositories. At the most granular level team spaces house working papers and are accessible only to members of an engagement or client team. Built with Microsoft SharePoint, they are used to store, share and modify documents during a project. Next are sites of the various communities of practice such as Solutions groups. These have broader appeal since most people are affiliated with one or more communities of practice. At the top level is the corporate intranet with general information applicable to everyone.
The entire structure is bound together by a search engine that seamlessly looks for information in all of the areas where access to content is not restricted. The infrastructure allows people to hang out in a project, community or global space but still have access to all resources.
Tools with a People Focus
The people component is evident in several of the most popular tools. Threaded discussion forums provide a question and answer format for each profession and solution community. It is a popular communication channel, allowing people to informally interact online. By leaving a trail of questions and answers which are posted for others to view, it becomes a vehicle to acquire quick information or at least stay current with the latest internal issues. Each forum is monitored by a moderator who volunteers to be an “expert” and ensure that questions are answered or directed to a resource.
When a topic or question comes up repeatedly in a forum, someone in a particular community is encouraged to write a Knowledge Brief or a short white paper which is reviewed and published internally. Senior sponsorship, team support, and the awards plan all act to reinforce Knowledge Brief contributions. Similarly the Authoring Excellence Program rewards those who publish or present a paper externally.
HP accommodates their employees' styles and time demands with multiple communication tools. Whether officially sanctioned or not they all serve a need.
- Virtual rooms, an interactive conferencing tool using computer screens to share presentations and facilitate meetings, reduce travel budgets and save time.
- Podcasts are the latest way to share sales insights. Key engagement team members are interviewed and share their stories regarding client wins. The interview is made available in an audio file to be downloaded and accessed at the listener’s convenience.
- Blogs are not officially supported at HP but have become a popular medium, especially when reputations for good information are established.
The HP Services Consulting & Integration KM Program recognizes the challenges of linking people with the tools and knowledge required to meet evolving business conditions. The next “killer app” is a social networking tool called My Space. My Space is envisioned as a personal homepage where employees will define their skills and interests, identify memberships in internal groups and generate their own networks.
By embedding KM within work processes, providing an infrastructure to access resources, and reinforcing behaviors that create a sharing culture, HP’s knowledge management program contributes value to the organization.
Contact Linda Carpenter at [email protected].