Originally published on December 26, 2017
This is the second article in the Profiles in Knowledge series. Compaq acquired Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) in 1998, and was acquired by Hewlett-Packard (HP) in 2002. I worked in knowledge management (KM) at Compaq from 1998 to 2001. In 2000, I was asked to help develop the corporate KM strategy, which is detailed in a presentation included below.
1. Section 1: KM Key Contributors
2. Section 2: Compaq KM Artifacts
3. Section 3: Resources
Section 1: KM Key Contributors
1. Max Bromley — KM Project Manager
Max joined DEC in 1983, transitioned into Compaq in 1998, and left Compaq in 2001. He served as KM project manager, making significant contributions to the KM program. In 2000, he worked closely with me and APQC on the corporate KM strategy. I greatly valued his insights, expertise, and efforts.
2. Earle Craigie — Western Region KM Lead
Earle joined DEC in 1980, transitioned into Compaq in 1998 and HP in 2002, and left HP in 2002. He led KM for the U.S. Western Region, making many innovative contributions to the KM program.
3. John Tohline — Knowledge Network Webmaster
John joined DEC in 1973, transitioned into Compaq in 1998 and HP in 2002, and retired from HP in 2004. He served as the webmaster for the Knowledge Network and was a key member of the KM team.
4. Etienne Bossard — European KM Team Member
Etienne joined DEC in 1978, transitioned into Compaq in 1998, and left Compaq in 1999. Starting in NSIS Europe at DEC, he identified proven practices and sample project deliverables, with the challenge of making these available in different languages. Etienne tested tools like Systran to help in the publishing phase.
5. Ron Kempf — Project Management Competency Director and Community of Practice Leader
Ron joined DEC in 1987, transitioned into Compaq in 1998 and HP in 2002, and left HP in 2007. As director of project management (PM) competency for Compaq, he wrote the following article about KM and PM in 2001.
The Compaq Global Services Knowledge Network is a knowledge repository that resides on the company intranet and consists of more than 500,000 web pages of information that is accessible worldwide. The knowledge base is replicated in North America, Europe, and Asia, and each geographical region has its own portal to provide a focus on the local business, teams, and customers. Management of this wealth of knowledge is distributed to the specific organization that owns the material to ensure accurate and timely updates. Consistent standards are used for a common look and user interface. Materials are stored only once with links from appropriate pages. The Knowledge Network has been set up as an integral part of the work, not as a function that must be performed separately. Much of the KM system has evolved with the work that needs to be done so that it is not normally thought of as being something separate.
Compaq Global Services is committed to a knowledge-empowered workforce. The KM program contributes to a web-based knowledge network, which is a repository of our collective expertise, information, tools, and even entire solution components. When an opportunity or challenge arises, selling and delivery teams can quickly tap these proven resources, which increase the use of repeatable solutions, shorten selling and delivery times, and increase profitability.
Within the repository, a page owner manages a specific set of pages and keeps his or her information current. The distributed nature of the Knowledge Network lets Global Services draw from its extensive network of knowledge-keepers, while making the repository look like a single, consistent entity. As a result, everyone in the organization has the tools to look at the whole picture when confronting a customer problem.
In a global organization the size of Compaq, knowing whom to contact can be a key success factor to global projects. Key contact lists are maintained within the Knowledge Network to provide those contacts based on the topic area needed.
Community of Practice
An electronic subscription tool is used for the broad distribution of electronic business communications such as email, newsletters, sales flashes, etc. All Compaq workers have the option to create a profile that allows them to subscribe to the specific types of electronic information that interests them. As an example, the Project Management Competency Circle is for people interested in information about project management. Some of the topics covered include training, PMP® certification, project management activities in Compaq, news from PMI®, and publications. Newsletters are periodically distributed on these topic areas. The global audience of Compaq employees shares new information on a wide range of project management topics.
Knowledge Sharing Requests are requests for others to share their knowledge, experience, or information in order to help advance an opportunity or solve a problem. These requests are sent out to individuals who may be able to help on the specific topic. They result in mail messages or phone calls, back to the requestor providing the requested information.
Project Experience/Lessons Learned
Project experience is the lessons learned from delivering solutions to our customers. The KM Program collects and publishes project experience to help future project teams learn from the results of others. This website provides access to documents and other files produced from many Global Services projects. In addition, you will find summaries and other results from the analysis of project activities and documents. An individual can access information on this site by Practice and Segment. Lessons Learned are also available by topic area.
All project experience is submitted through Knowledge Managers (KMs) and Project Management Office (PMO) managers for experience collection. The KM/PMO is responsible for reviewing all content for quality, sanitizing it for confidentiality, and adding value with knowledge refinement.
6. Other KM Contributors
- Patti Anklam is profiled in the DEC article
- Andrew Gent and Ron Plourde are profiled in the HP article
Section 2: Compaq KM Artifacts
1. Brochure: Compaq Services boosts efficiency and customer satisfaction by implementing Knowledge Management
Kannankote Srikanth, Vice President, Network Systems and Integration Services, Compaq Computer Corporation:
Knowledge Management is the centerpiece of our ability to provide low risk, repeatable solutions. It enables us to unleash our creativity, build an internal culture of sharing and collaboration, and escalate our ability to quickly increase revenues and profits — all while better serving the business needs of our customers.
As one of the leading providers of IT consulting and integration services, Compaq Services is truly a knowledge organization. The challenge in being a knowledge organization is that your key asset — knowledge — exists within the minds of thousands of individuals located in hundreds of countries around the world. The task Compaq Services faced was this: how can critical information be taken out of people’s heads and put into a format that can be shared and reused? In seeking a solution, Compaq Services turned to Knowledge Management (KM).
While Knowledge Management promises to let companies better leverage everything they collectively “know” by systematically capturing vital corporate information and sharing it internally across global boundaries via technology — it is difficult to implement successfully because it involves interaction among people, experience, and problems.
Learning ahead of customers
“Our goal with Knowledge Management was to leverage the intellectual assets of our people and then make them available to our customers,” says Stan Garfield, Compaq’s Knowledge Manager. “We had to learn how to do something and be able to repeat it. Knowledge Management has allowed us to achieve that goal. By getting data out of people’s heads and codifying that knowledge, we have been able to offer our customers better quality, more consistent services around the globe.”
Compaq is among the growing number of companies today that consider Knowledge Management strategic to their business processes. As such, Knowledge Management is a key focus of the overarching Compaq NonStop eBusiness strategy. This strategy is founded on an architecture and solution model that provides a modular approach to building Compaq NonStop eBusiness systems.
Commenting on the effectiveness of the business model that links the Compaq NonStop eBusiness strategy with Knowledge Management, Patti Anklam, Information Architect for Knowledge Management Services, says, “We have deep competencies in helping people solve large, complex problems. We work across the information, solutions, and infrastructure architecture layers. This systemic approach is one of the core capabilities we bring to the table in our integration and consulting business. Our architecture methodology enables us to help customers integrate their existing systems with new solutions and applications, and develop an enabling infrastructure that can evolve over time. In fact, this architecture methodology is a prime example of how we capture and make repeatable the experience, techniques, and work products of senior technology consultants.”
Looking beyond technology
Compaq, which has had a Knowledge Management strategy in place since 1997, piloted the program in Compaq Services’ systems integration group. “A critical success factor to this effort was that we understood that Knowledge Management encompasses more than technology,” says Patti Anklam. “We’ve learned that only about one-third of Knowledge Management is about technology. Two-thirds is about people — process innovation, culture change, and behavior modification. It’s really hard, dirty work and you have to roll up your sleeves and deal with a lot of organizational issues. If you look at Knowledge Management strictly from a technology viewpoint, or expect a quick fix, the KM work will not succeed.”
The KM work in Compaq Services is indeed succeeding — bringing organizational efficiencies internally, as well as better solutions to customers.
Capturing knowledge in real time
Functionally, the Compaq Services Knowledge Management effort is managed by a core team made up of Knowledge Managers from all different parts of the world and all the functions within the organization.
In projects with its customers, Compaq Services acquires both tacit and explicit knowledge. The Knowledge Managers capture explicit knowledge — knowledge that can be articulated through step-by step methodologies and templates, or that is exemplified in examples and actual customer documents.
According to Stan Garfield, tacit knowledge is Compaq Services’ most critical knowledge advantage. “When we solve hard problems working with a customer, we are rarely aware of our own processes and the specific skills and knowledge we had that enabled us to solve that problem. However, it is our ability to capture and share these activities that gives us the most competitive advantage. Our key important intellectual capital is in the knowledge and experience of the communities of practice in Compaq Services. In other words, our value is based on what is in the heads of our people. We therefore recognize the importance and immediacy of supporting people with e-mail- and Web-based collaboration tools through which they can exchange ideas and artifacts, ask questions, receive feedback on proposed solutions, and learn together about new technologies and how to apply them to customers.”
It is this ability to capture and use experience gained from hundreds of similar projects that lowers a customer’s risk and speeds implementation.
The Knowledge Network
All tacit and explicit information is collected, organized, and categorized into the Knowledge Network, an intranet portal and knowledge repository that uses Microsoft Site Server. This central portal provides access to a 200,000-page repository of information that is accessible worldwide. The knowledge base is replicated in North America, Europe, and Asia — and each geographical region has its own portal to provide a focus on the local business, teams, and customers.
Within the repository, each set of pages is managed by a page owner who keeps his or her information current. The distributed nature of the Knowledge Network lets Compaq Services draw from its extensive network of knowledge-keepers — while making the repository look like a single, consistent entity. As a result, everyone in the organization has the tools to look at the whole picture when confronting a customer problem.
Behind the Compaq Services network, Compaq’s intranet provides a rich set of company-wide knowledge resources. The Compaq Web Information Repository provides a wealth of information for both sales representatives and service delivery consultants. This information includes product and services data, as well as marketing collateral, brochures, solutions briefs, white papers, and presentations. Sales aids such as wins, customer reference sites, and success stories are available and can be searched by such qualifiers as product, industry, geography, business solution, competition, partner, operating systems, and more. A systems and options catalog, configuration information, and Software Product Descriptions (SPDs) — in both current and archived versions — are available with just three clicks of your mouse.
Compaq’s Intranet also includes a unique internal service called Reader’s Choice, which is a worldwide content delivery mechanism for sending need-to-know information and special-interest newsletters to qualified individuals around the world. Using this service, content creators can distribute time-critical information to interest communities within Compaq based on user-defined profiles and Human Resource data feeds.
Delivering on the promise of Knowledge Management
Knowledge Management is helping Compaq Services in both its sales and delivery efforts. For example, before making a sales call at customer sites, messaging and collaboration consultants can pull all the relevant information and tools off the Knowledge Network and go to meetings backed by all the experience and expertise of the company. They are able to present all similar engagements to the customer — regardless of where they may be in the world. Because they have access to other proposals generated within the organization, they can get back to the customer with an accurate proposal in a fraction of the time it previously took.
Compaq’s service delivery effort is also benefiting from Knowledge Management. For example, let’s say that on the second day into the job, the consultant confronts a new problem because of something unique in the customer’s environment. The consultant then sends out a message via Microsoft Exchange to a list of very senior consultants deployed globally. Within 15 minutes, he or she receives the right information to solve the problem based on receiving real-time answers from colleagues around the globe. As a result, Compaq was able to deliver a quality solution to the customer with unbelievable speed.
Transforming internal benefits into customer benefits
While the benefits of Knowledge Management are difficult to quantify, they are nonetheless compelling.
One important benefit is the ability of the Compaq Services workforce to have easy access to just-in-time information from a single source — which helps them be more effective in their jobs. If something relevant happened on the other side of the globe yesterday, they can take advantage of that knowledge today. Reference sites and customer success stories posted to the repository give consultants up-to-the-minute information that they can use to their customers’ advantage.
Community building is another benefit. Since implementing Knowledge Management, there is a greater sense of community among the worldwide Compaq Services workforce. The Knowledge Management architecture has provided a structure for people to have a corporate as well as a regional identity and home. As a result, the corporate culture is more positive.
Morale isn’t the only thing that is boosted. So is productivity. The Knowledge Network reduces the time required for essential, but time-consuming tasks such as plan writing. By having access to implementation plans for similar engagements, they can write a new plan in a fraction of the time it used to take. This translates into faster time-to-solution for the customer.
The Knowledge Management implementation has also enhanced the company’s ability to locate the right resources for each customer engagement and set them to the task at hand. This results in a better-quality service for each customer. Avoiding mistakes benefits both Compaq and the customer. By learning from past experience — and sharing that information throughout the organization — Compaq is able to provide its customers with proven, successful solutions that minimize risk.
To recap, the benefits Compaq Services has reaped from Knowledge Management include just-in-time access to the collective experience of the organization, community building, and greater efficiency. In turn, these benefits extend to customers in the form of faster time-to-solution and higher quality results.
Replicating the success of Knowledge Management
With the success of Knowledge Management in its initial deployment in the messaging and collaboration group of Compaq Services, Compaq will be replicating its Knowledge Management model and rolling it out in other parts of the organization. The company will also bring this valuable experience to its customers as they move ahead with their own Knowledge Management initiatives. In short, learning ahead in Knowledge Management has proven to be a win-win endeavor for the company and its customers alike.
Compaq Professional Services (PS) Knowledge Management (KM) Program
- Everyone in PS uses the Knowledge Network every day as a regular part of their jobs
- Everyone contributes their experiences, contacts, lessons learned, documents, and other nuggets of knowledge whenever they can
- Everyone regularly thinks about how a piece of knowledge or a deliverable can be reused, who could use it, how to make it more useful, and where is the best place to put it
- Knowledge capture is embedded in everyone’s job, and is not a separate process
- No one thinks of starting an engagement without looking for prior examples, proposals, lessons, etc.
- All engagements are entered into the Knowledge Network at key milestones
- New pieces of knowledge content are regularly suggested and added to the Knowledge Network
- Everyone knows how to find the information they need, and it is readily available to them
- The Knowledge Network is easily accessed and updated
- The Knowledge Network is linked to other functions, systems, databases, etc. to make it easy to get information from anywhere
- There are knowledge managers in each organization within PS who constantly add to and improve the Knowledge Network and help others to use it more effectively
- Measurable benefits result from the use of the Knowledge Network, and all goals are achieved
- Increase certs, revenue, and profits by:
- Reusing materials and expertise
- Avoiding making the same mistakes twice
- Taking advantage of existing expertise and experience
- Making it easy to find information and resources
- Communicating important information widely and quickly
- Avoiding redundant effort
- Promoting standard, repeatable service offerings
- Providing methods, tools, templates, examples, and data to streamline selling and delivering
- Making scarce expertise widely available
- Showing our customers how we use our knowledge for their benefit, including some automated service delivery through the Internet
- Accelerating delivery to our customers
- Stimulating innovation and growth
- Enabling PS to leverage its size
- Making our best problem-solving experiences reusable
Quantifying the Value of Knowledge Management (Source: Intellectual Capital — Annie Brooking):
The Gottlieb Duttweiler Foundation — a Swiss think tank — found that only about 20% of knowledge which is available to the company is actually used. This indicates that there is room for greater efficiency, profits, growth, competitive edge and so on by just managing the knowledge within an organization more efficiently.
PS KM Program
- Methodology Database
- Discussion Forums
- Knowledge Management Program Staff
- Lead Knowledge Management program
- Manage Web pages (other than Practice and Region)
- Provide industry and competitor content
- Continuously improve knowledge contribution and usage processes
- Knowledge Management Staff in Worldwide Practices
- Provide Practice content
- Manage Practice Web pages
- Solicit field Practice content and control quality
- Continuously improve Practice content
- Knowledge Management Staff in Regions
- Solicit contributions
- Promote and publicize Knowledge Management
- Help employees use Knowledge Management
- Control quality of content
- Report on contributions and use
- Help managers with Knowledge Management metrics
- Manage Region Web pages
- Continuously improve contribution process
3. Additional Presentations
- Compaq KM Case Study by Denise Schilling (Compaq) and Kimberly Lopez (APQC)
- Knowledge Management Strategy (2000) by Stan Garfield and Denise Schilling
Section 3: Resources
- Compaq To Offer Knowledge-Management Service by Information Week
- Compaq gears up for knowledge management by Eileen Yu
- Compaq and Lotus forge KM agreement by KMWorld
- KCS and Enterprise Knowledge Management by Brandon Caudle
- Knowledge Management Excellence: The Art of Excelling in Knowledge Managementby H. James Harrington and Frank Voehl — page 178: Compaq and Lotus: Hardware-Software Alliance Relies Upon Knowledge Management
- Open: How Compaq Ended IBM’s PC Domination and Helped Invent Modern Computing by Rod Canion