Lou Taylor: For knowledge sharing to be successful you need engaged people, processes and tools! #entdigi #eds18

As a preparation for the upcoming Enterprise Digital Workplace SUMMIT in London we are happy to publish another interview with one of our speakers. This week’s answers to our questions are coming from Lou Taylor. She is the director of knowledge management at the information and business intelligence company Bureau van Dijk – mandated to implement knowledge management as a business discipline. In her talk at the conference on 6 June she will share her lessons learned fromt her Intranet journey at Bureau van Dijk.

In our interview we asked her already about the objectives and background of the project.

Q1: Lou – you will be speaking at the Enterprise Digital Workplace SUMMIT in June about the lessons learned from your Intranet journey at Bureau van Dijk. What will be you key message?

When you join or take over an intranet project where decisions have already been made that don’t fully support its objectives, you must be pragmatic about what’s possible. Identify and stay focused on what is achievable; don’t get distracted by what might have been.

Q2: So what were the objectives and how did you manage to align the project to it?

a) Our key objectives have been the following:

  • To facilitate timely information sharing between product and sales teams, and to make that information easily accessible to the sales force whether in the office or on the move
  • To enable knowledge sharing across the global organisation

b) And how did we manage to align the project to it?

  • By talking to key stakeholders to understand challenges (what was preventing timely info sharing) and preparing appropriate plans and processes.

Q3: What are your lessons learned on the key enablers and features to support better knowledge sharing across a global organization?

For me the ‘intranet’ (content management system) itself is an enabler to knowledge sharing.

Lessons learned on key enablers: knowledge sharing works well when people/employees are organised by groups that communicate up/down and across the organisation (eg. global practice groups; regional sales groups) so that stories (sales successes, new product developments) can easily be surfaced to the intranet team for publishing, for global consumption.

Lessons learned include:

  • For knowledge sharing to be successful you need engaged people, processes and tools (it needs all three)
  • Don’t assume that (approved) business needs and IT/security requirements are harmonious
  • Prioritise the ‘must have’ features that you can implement, to deliver the project on time and on budget (eg. news feed) while gathering evidence to support the case for adding other functionality at a later date (eg. collate requests from business users to have access to intranet info on the road, to help them do their job; use surveys to invite input, etc… keep gathering evidence)
  • Communicate, explain, educate… as much as possible: when getting deeper into initial high-level requirements don’t be surprised if some requirements need their own project, tool and budget, such as a learning management system (LMS) to track employee learning online
  • If you don’t have inhouse developers, make sure you do thorough research of digital agencies…You need people you can work well with and rely on to meet deadlines and solution-delivery
  • Stay close to project stakeholders: open communications and the ability to respond to change is key; develop good relationships with business sponsors (when risks surface, you’ll need them!)

Q4: Isn’t “sharing what we do” naturally leading to “sharing what we know”? So why then not caring only about the former?

Sharing what we know:
Bureau van Dijk is relatively small (700 people worldwide when I joined in 2016) and well connected (despite not having a people directory at that time). Mechanisms are in place for cascading important communications down through regional business leaders, and surfacing the likes of best sales success stories (priority knowledge for consumption via the new intranet) up through the global sales practice group leaders. On joining, it was evident that there’s a culture of collaboration and a hunger for knowledge sharing (and an intranet!). It was my job to connect with leaders across regions, departments (joining conference calls to talk about the new intranet etc).

My first project was to create an “intranet” (to publish curated, quality content using a Kentico CMS and build a people directory from scratch). This has been successful (good user adoption and engagement confirmed through analytics, hearsay and survey, and collaboration across all departments and regions of the firm).

Although, from early requirements it was clear that there were additional business needs (improved document management/Sharepoint, team collaboration spaces/MS Team sites, etc) that weren’t in the scope of this project and are being addressed as separate projects (in terms of costs, time and resourcing, etc).

Sharing what we do:
So, the O365 project is in its early days and is a different but related story (we want to enable employees to work in a more mobile, flexible way – with quick access to their team project files and information wherever they are).

“Sharing what we do” naturally leads to “sharing what we know”, yes. We care very much about both elements. We’ve started our digital workplace journey and who knows where it will end. When the intranet project started we didn’t know who our current employees were. A year later our 700+ people (and our ways of working) are being integrated into a new parent company of 11,000 employees.

Q5: What are your expectations about the upcoming Enterprise Digital Workplace SUMMIT? What are your open questions and what are your key topics that attendees can ask you about?

In regards to the conference I look forward to learning how other organisations are designing their digital workplaces to meet the needs of their employees and company culture, while meeting compliance and security requirements too. It will be good to hear what works in other organisations as well as lessons learnt, both from the speakers presenting and through networking.

For the questions and topics to ask me about – I’m open to all kind of questions but my key topics include:
– Kentico as an intranet platform
– project management working with external digital agencies
– balancing business needs with IT
– internal communications when your small PE-backed company is being acquired by a much bigger NYSE-listed financial services company
– People directories
– Writing news stories, writing ‘plain English’
– general intranet questions
– IP address whitelisting

We thank Lou for her answers and support of the event.