The Role of Evolving Technologies: Accelerating Collaboration and Knowledge Transfer — HP KM Case Study by APQC

Originally posted Jan 2, 2018

APQC Knowledge Management Site Visit to Hewlett-Packard

Site Visit Hosts:

  • Stan Garfield, Worldwide C&I Knowledge Management Leader
  • Joe Schneider, Collaboration Strategist, HP IT Knowledge and Intranet Management
  • Carol Gillis, Americas C&I KM Lead
  • Dan Scott, Worldwide C&I Information Management Practice KM Lead

I. Understanding Your KM and IM Strategy to Support Collaboration and Knowledge Transfer

Why do KM? If you think about learning as a key part of everything we do, we are learning from someone else who has already done something, sharing what we already learned with others, using what others have already created and proved, collaborating with others to get things done more effectively and innovating to be more creative, innovative and imaginative.

— Stan Garfield, Worldwide Knowledge Management Leader, Hewlett Packard

Hewlett-Packard (HP) is a technology company that operates in more than 170 countries around the world. It explores how technology and services can help individuals and companies address various issues. The organization aims to apply new ideas to create simpler and more valuable experiences with technology for its customers.

According to HP, there are three business groups within the organization that drive industry leadership in core technology areas:

  • The Personal Systems Group focuses on business and consumer PCs, mobile computing devices, and workstations.
  • The Imaging and Printing Group oversees inkjet, LaserJet, and commercial printing; printing supplies; and digital photography and entertainment.
  • The Technology Solutions Group (TSG) designs business products including storage and servers, managed services, and software.

Knowledge Management Strategy

As mentioned in the above quotation, Stan Garfield indicates that at least one of the following principles is behind all knowledge sharing efforts within HP:

  • Share — learning and other proven practices with others;
  • Innovate — in order to be more creative;
  • Reuse — what others have already created, used and proven;
  • Collaborate — with others to deliver work more effectively; and
  • Learn — from others with relevant experience, as well as from existing information.

Additionally, Garfield cites the following five implementation steps that they follow for an effective knowledge management (KM) program:

  1. Create a list of the top three objectives which the KM program will address
  2. Provide answers to nine key questions regarding people, process and technology
  3. Define a KM strategy
  4. Gain sponsorship of senior executives; and
  5. Create and execute a KM program implementation plan.

Garfield cites that one of the most common mistakes to creating a KM program is not initially defining the business objectives. For example, instead of introducing a new technology or application and trying to encourage employees to use it, Garfield stresses the importance of defining the primary business objectives and then identifying technologies that will support those objectives.

Examples of objectives and goals for a KM program, according to Garfield, can include:

  1. Enabling better and faster decision making
  2. Making it easy to find relevant information and resources
  3. Reusing ideas, documents, and expertise
  4. Avoiding redundant effort
  5. Taking advantage of existing experience
  6. Promoting standard, repeatable processes and procedures
  7. Providing methods, tools, templates, techniques, and examples
  8. Accelerating delivery to customers
  9. Making the organization’s best problem-solving experiences reusable; and
  10. Stimulating innovation and growth

Garfield recommends initially selecting approximately three of these goals that are most compelling and aligning them to business objectives before beginning a KM initiative. In HP’s consulting and integration business, examples of objectives include increasing the win rate by improving the proposal development process, lowering sales and delivery costs by reusing proven practices, and increasing the quality of customer engagements by collaborating with customers and partners.

The nine key questions cited by Garfield to implement an effective KM program at HP are categorized as people, process and technology, and Garfield again stresses the importance of selecting a few for initial focus and then expanding as appropriate. These types of questions include:


1. Which people in your organization need to participate in the KM program?

2. What are the different roles that participants will need to play?

3. Who are the key stakeholders and leaders to line up in support of the new initiatives?


4. What existing processes need to be modified to incorporate KM activities?

5. What new processes need to be created?

6. What policies will need to be changed or created to ensure desired behaviors?


7. What existing tools can be used in support of the new initiatives?

8. What new tools will need to be created or obtained?

9. What integration of tools and systems will be required?

Under the People category, HP asks itself questions such as what types of job families should be included in a knowledge sharing effort? Since consultants, project managers and managers are the target audience for KM programs at HP, the world-wide KM team encourages their involvement as early as possible. The KM team also defines roles for each of these job families. For example, consultants need to collaborate as members of project teams and communities of practice, project managers need to re-use content from previous projects and contribute details about new ones, managers need to ensure that consultants and project managers are performing their expected roles, and the KM leaders need to provide the required people, process, and technology components for everyone else to use.

Continuing under the People category, the HP KM team also identifies key stakeholders and leaders necessary to support new KM initiatives. More specifically, the HP KM team has identified three categories of these stakeholders. First, senior executives are necessary to sponsor programs, provide funding, communicate regularly, establish goals, and inspect ongoing performance. Stan Garfield, as the worldwide KM leader, collaborates closely with the senior vice president in charge of the consulting and integration business unit to obtain her buy-in and support by developing recognition programs and publishing updates on the organization’s Website. The next category of stakeholders is the management group, which reports to the senior leaders and must lead by example, ensure goals are defined, and reward good performance. Lastly, there are the thought leaders who are content experts in various specialties within the organization. If thought leaders adopt a KM effort, Garfield notes, others are likely to follow suit. Thought leaders lead the communities, endorse processes and use the various tools that support KM activities.

Under the Process category, the HP KM team first examines what existing processes need to be modified to incorporate KM activities. As a result, with regard to project team collaboration, the KM team replaced an ad hoc approach to collaboration (using e-mail) with a more formal approach where everyone could use a standard process that would be easily adopted (Team Spaces). Additionally, the KM team also modified employee goal setting and rewards to include KM-specific incentives.

Additionally, the KM team created certain new processes for KM activities. For example, the KM group created a new process for capturing project information and documents by communicating to people specifically what to collect and when. In addition, a new process for reuse was created where people were directed to search for existing content and contacts from previous projects and employ as much as possible in newer projects.

In addition to creating new processes and modifying existing processes, the KM team also created new policies to support KM. Examples of these include the creation of a collaboration policy to ensure all project teams use the standard team spaces and a capture and reuse policy to ensure that the newly formed capture and reuse processes are followed.

Under the Technology category, the KM team’s existing tools include threaded discussions and virtual meeting rooms as standard methods of collaboration. The KM team also had to create certain new tools such as structured repositories and integrate the threaded discussions into the existing environments. Additionally, the team integrated the KM environment with the intranet. This integration ensured that employees could receive alerts regarding relevant content via e-mail, as well as search for needed content through the HP portal, “@HP.”

When defining a KM strategy, Garfield indicates the importance of identifying a strategy or multiple strategies that are most relevant, align with business objectives and have the highest potential for a return on investment. Examples of possible KM strategies, according to Garfield, include:

  1. Motivate
  2. Network
  3. Supply
  4. Analyze
  5. Codify
  6. Disseminate
  7. Demand
  8. Act
  9. Invent
  10. Augment

Once strategies are selected, the KM team at HP will write out what specifically is needed to implement each strategy.

Ownership of KM

The first KM programs were established in HP and Digital Equipment Corporation in 1996. Regarding current ownership of KM at HP, the organization cites that while there is no enterprise-wide level ownership of KM or KM strategy within the organization, the most mature knowledge management programs exist in three specific business units: HP Services Consulting & Integration, HP Services Technology Services, and TSG Presales Support. There is also a corporate Knowledge & Intranet Management group within the HP IT function that owns the KM tools and applications.

In addition to the three business units that have formal KM programs, HP also has a KM consortium where members from the different KM programs within various business units meet on a monthly basis to share information on KM activities.

The KM operations team at HP is a virtual team, as illustrated in Figure 1. As the figure shows, the worldwide knowledge management lead oversees the various members, including a team leader for each of the three categories of people, process and technology. These leaders are responsible for projects that fall into these specific categories. There are also extended team members, who represent various industry practices, as well as representatives from different geographic regions, and representatives from the corporate IT team. This operational governance team develops a plan of record (see Figure 2) to execute the KM programs. During monthly meetings, the KM team reviews action items and provides status reports on the various projects and will update the plan of record accordingly. This plan is then posted on the HP Intranet and accessible to all HP employees.

Additionally, there is a KM leads team. This is a larger, virtual team. This team has biweekly conference calls and periodic face to face meetings when possible. These virtual teams use Team Spaces to conduct their meetings, as well as share documents. The meeting of the KM leads has, according to Garfield, proven to be an effective method of keeping KM practitioners engaged and responsive.

Figure 1: KM Program Staff

Figure 2: KM Plan of Record

Evolution of Knowledge Management; Collection vs. Connection

HP’s Knowledge Management strategy has evolved considerably from its beginnings in 1996. Garfield notes that when he first joined HP in 2001, the KM environment was made up of hundreds of silo communities, and no method of determining which ones were active. Since that time, the KM program has evolved from silo communities to communities specifically designed for the global consulting and HP services units.

Garfield also cites the evolution in KM as going from an emphasis on collection to more of a focus on connection. He refers to these components as two distinct modes of knowledge flow that make up HP’s “Knowledge Management Lifecycle.” More specifically, this lifecycle includes the phases of collection, connection, boundary-spanning, discovery and creation. Garfield notes that many KM programs begin with an emphasis on collection, or more specifically, gathering all of the existing documents and making them available for users. For example, the KM team stresses the importance of project profile repositories. These repositories house information regarding completed projects that other users can later access for reuse.

Garfield notes however, that collection alone will most likely result in a mere accumulation of various documents; connection of people to people and people to information is also necessary to achieve successful knowledge sharing. This type of collaboration is often a challenge within HP because of the large number of business units, each with a unique set of tools and a unique set of practices and processes. Therefore, Garfield cites “boundary spanning,” or creating bridges across organizational boundaries for enabling knowledge to flow between previously-isolated groups, as another critical mode of knowledge flow, in addition to collection and connection. The HP KM team tries to accomplish this by creating new community forums. For example, the KM team might suggest that instead of forming a community forum for a particular customer relationship management tool, such as Seybold, interested parties should instead join the general customer relationship management forum and offer their unique insights, while learning at the same time.

The Discovery phase of the KM lifecycle is establishing processes for learning from existing sources of information, including systems, databases, and libraries. The Creation phase includes processes for stimulating innovation and facilitating invention. Garfield cites HP’s tagline of “Invent” but also notes that before inventing, employees should ensure it has not already been invented; if it has, it should be re-used.

KM Governance and Funding

For KM program governance and funding, labor costs are funded by the individual business units, while IT costs are centrally funded. Prototypes for new products and/or tools are funded by the individual businesses.

As mentioned previously, the central IT organization, the Knowledge and Intranet Management Group, owns and supports the tools and applications that support KM activities at HP. The IT team stresses the need to demonstrate a return on investment before beginning any project, with an emphasis on consolidation and standardization. For example, the IT function within HP currently has a formal strategy for consolidating data centers, reducing IT costs, creating an enterprise data warehouse, and using internal IT as a showcase for HP customers.

The Business Case for KM Tools/Initiatives

When building the business case for new KM tools, applications, or initiatives, the individual business units first build a prototype, then create demand for the new tool at the “grass-roots” level, and finally prove the value. Once the new tool matures or proves valuable, the corporate level Knowledge and Intranet Group will review for possible expansion to the enterprise level.

The Knowledge and Intranet Management (KIM) Group has an IT planning process that is driven by business priorities. This group evaluates tools and applications and performs a cost benefit analysis to determine how IT can support the needs of the business.

Part of this planning process includes an architectural review. The Knowledge and Intranet Management Group has an enterprise architecture program where proposed technologies are reviewed against current foundational technologies and why it would be more beneficial to use the new or proposed technology as opposed to existing applications.

The following approaches are used by KIM to gather requirements, pilot, and roll out IT solutions:

  1. A Collaboration Advisory Board meets every two weeks to ensure two-way communications between the business users and the IT function.
  2. A monthly Get Connected webinars is held to communicate IT plans and directions to all of HP.
  3. Pilots for new versions of software, blogs, wikis, etc. are managed by IT with volunteers solicited from the businesses.

II. Integrating IM with KM Initiatives

Web 2.0 is one of our biggest success stories.

Stan Garfield, Worldwide KM Lead, Hewlett-Packard

Collaboration between KM and IT

The Knowledge & Intranet Management group is one of several groups within IT and collaborates closely with the KM team. The role of this group includes both strategy and planning. It forecasts about two years out to determine what technologies will be important to the future of the organization and to ensure there will be a strategy to support that technology or application. The End-User Services group is responsible for managing the IT environment and infrastructure, as well as assisting with implementation.

Stan Garfield reiterated that IT is an integral part of the KM program, and the goal for those that work in the KM programs is to ensure that the IT group is aware of all of the KM programs’ business requirements. To maintain open channels of communication, the KM group and IT team conduct weekly update calls.

Use of Enterprise 2.0 Technologies

There are standard IT applications defined for each business requirement at HP. For KM, there is a set of applications, and the standard collaboration platform is Microsoft SharePoint.

HP indicates that it uses SharePoint in two primary ways. The first significant use is in the collaborative team space (Figure 3). This use of SharePoint has been widely adopted and allows people to create their own team spaces and immediately begin collaborating either internally or externally. This application has been so successful that IT must ensure there is adequate capacity to support this demand. HP notes that it will be migrating to the 2007 version of SharePoint and hopes to be fully migrated by the end of 2008.

As mentioned previously, at HP new technologies begin in the individual businesses and later proceed to IT to help scale them more broadly. HP began using SharePoint in the surface organization 3–5 years ago with the goal to create collaborative team spaces for each project. Three years ago the IT group began rolling SharePoint out to the rest of the organization.

Stan Garfield notes that collaborative team spaces within SharePoint have been widely adopted throughout HP, mainly because of the ease in beginning a team space. These spaces are used for collaboration, communication and project management with both internal and external teams.

Figure 3: Collaborative Team Spaces

In addition to Microsoft SharePoint, the KM team at HP uses a variety of other Enterprise 2.0 technologies and applications to support knowledge sharing and other knowledge management activities.

Communities of Practice

If you had a perfect world where everyone participated in one community and you covered all of the main topics of importance to the organization you would probably have success.

Stan Garfield, Worldwide KM Lead, Hewlett-Packard

According to Stan Garfield, communities of practice are the most important component of knowledge management at HP. Within the organization, there are three different types of communities. Professions are very formal communities with the richest set of activities, governance, and structure. These communities have the overall purpose of mastering a profession and to develop members to fit into a particular position and be proficient.

Solution communities are not as enterprise-wide as the professions communities. These communities focus on a particular topic or area of practice, such as warehousing or business intelligence. The overall purpose of these communities is to become more knowledgeable on a given topic in order to sell and deliver services expertly.

Specialty forums are the third type of communities of practice within HP. These communities consist of more loosely connected groups of people that have no commitment to deliver something as a team. These forums are more like threaded discussions for collaboration that can eventually evolve into a more formalized community of practice. Anyone within the organization can request a forum and if a similar one does not already exist, the forum will be created. The KM team will monitor the forums to ensure that they remain active. This will prevent people from posting a question without realizing that the forum is not active. If a forum appears to be inactive, then the KM team will delete it.

HP is using UBB threads as the tool for communities of practice and forums; however they will migrate communities and forums to the 2007 version of SharePoint.


The second use of SharePoint at HP is the SharePoint portal server, which is a more controlled use than with the team spaces. HP uses these portals as its formal knowledge repositories. Unlike the collaborative team space wherein anyone can create a space, the KM team centrally manages and controls the portals in order to avoid the creation of silos or redundancies. The portals are often used for specific types of repositories, such as the project profile repository or the repository that contains information on all the organization’s service offerings.

Figure 4 shows an example of a portal from one of the manufacturing industries. They are using a variation called a web publishing center. This example is an integrated portal that integrates content from different sources and presents it in one interface.

Figure 4: Portals


The HP co:rporate intranet is called “@hp” and is primarily used for enterprise search. The search function allows you to locate anyone within the organization, as well as their location and phone number. The intranet is integrated with the KM environment and will search the various KM portals. There is an intranet page for the KM environment called the Knowledge network where users can access links and lists created by the KM team such as “The Top 10 Documents” and “The Top 10 Presentations.” The general idea is to provide users only one place to locate relevant information.

Virtual Rooms

For the majority of meetings HP uses a tool called HP virtual rooms. This is an internally developed HP product where users can share white boards, desktops, applications, and also perform live demonstrations. Using this tool is typical for online meetings at HP since the majority of teams are geographically dispersed.

Expertise Location

For expertise location, the KM team relies more on the specialty forums than other more formal expertise location tools. HP does have an expertise location system on its intranet, but this is more often used by resource managers to staff engagements than by the individual consultants. With this function, anyone can search for a person with a certain skill or certain experience. Although this function has proven useful, the KM team encourages uses who are looking for expertise to go to the most relevant forum and post a question, and someone with the desired knowledge will most likely respond.


Stan Garfield notes that blogging is becoming more and more popular at HP, with approximately 1,000 current blogs, and more being created every day. In 2004 the Imaging and Printing Group created an internal blog server (Roller) to house the blogs on an unofficial basis. HP IT will offer officially supported blogs in the 2007 version of SharePoint. Within the organization, there are certain blogs that are focused on particular content, while others consist of users expressing opinions in a more unstructured way. Joe Schneider, from the Knowledge and Intranet management Group, observes that blogs are primarily used for manager communications and special topics of interest. For example one user created a blog as a personal notebook to capture all of his learning that others can access. Others use blogs to archive newsletters that they author. Users can also subscribe to blogs through an RSS feed at HP.


Like blogs, wikis are another relatively new tool at HP. The HP wiki is called HPedia and is the HP version of Wikipedia. This wiki is housed on an internal server (MediaWiki) launched in 2005 by the Open Systems and Linux group on an unofficial basis, as with the blogs. HP IT will offer officially supported wikis in the 2007 version of SharePoint. Joe Schneider notes that wikis are particularly useful for mass collaboration and serving as a group knowledge base. Stan Garfield notes that while a lot of content has been posted to HPedia, adoption of wikis has been mixed to date. There are currently approximately 1200 users of the HPedia platform, and content is categorized alphabetically. Garfield predicts that although they are still learning about wikis, HPedia will play a significant role in the future of enterprise KM at HP.


HP also uses an internal podcast called the HP services podcast in order to share knowledge and content. The C&I marketing team produces these podcasts on a fairly regular basis and invites a variety of guest speakers to share their expertise on a given topic. The KM team has found this to be an effective method to reach staff members who may not have time to attend a session, but can later download the podcast recording to an MP3 player and listen at their convenience.


For Really Simple Syndication (RSS), HP has provided numerous RSS feeds, including for blogs, wikis, forums, and knowledge briefs. There is an internal application called “WaterCooler.” This tool allows users to see a mashup of RSS feeds and also select certain highlights from desired sources. HP plans to eventually use the 2007 version of SharePoint to use RSS feeds to continuously update the C&I home page on the intranet to include more updated content from a variety of sources, including blogs. Each vice president will have a blogger who will include news from that vice president. Since the blog feed will go to the intranet without a Webmaster, information will be more timely than with the current, more static format on the HP home pages. The HP KM team feels that RSS feeds have a lot of potential for tailoring content and integrating them in a variety of ways. For example, if the information practice feeds information to its home page, that feed can also be routed to the C&I home page with multiple streams.

Social Software

For social networking, HP uses an internally developed application called me@hp (Figure 5). Stan Garfield compares this application to external sites such as Facebook, MySpace or LinkedIn. There are currently 1,000 users of this opt-in application and that number continues to increase. Garfield notes that by allowing people to personalize pages with a picture and areas of personal interest, adoption has increased since the existing company directory does not include these capabilities.

Figure 5: me@hp

Proposal and Presentation Automation

Two applications have proven to be particularly effective for reuse of sales information within HP. HP’s proposal automation and presentation automation applications are examples of customized tools that re-use knowledge in a practical manner. The proposal automation application is a tool that allows people to write a proposal by providing a few pieces of information into a Word document, and then the tool assembles the rest of the proposal, based on past proposals, to maintain a customized appearance. For presentation automation, the organization uses an external vendor called Avitage that assembles slides from the latest versions of past presentations, and a user can add additional slides to customize it for a particular project or purpose.

User Base for Technologies and Applications

With respect to the user base for some of HP’s newer and collaborative Enterprise 2.0 technologies, Stan Garfield cites the following usage statistics:

  • 675 current blogs
  • 30,936 discussion forum subscriptions and 76,499 registered users
  • Podcasts: Each new podcast receives an average 500–800 downloads/media player playback in its first month of release and approximately 100–200 downloads/playback per month for several months thereafter
  • 1,113 social networking profiles
  • 1,272 registered wikis

Selecting the Appropriate Application

HP notes that while they do not require staff to use any particular tool or application for collaboration or knowledge sharing, project teams with the consulting unit are expected to use SharePoint Team Spaces and to subscribe to at least one forum or community of practice. Additionally, Hewlett-Packard Services (HPS) project managers are expected to submit project profiles for all custom projects for later reuse.

Almost as important as the functionality of a particular tool or application to support KM, is selecting the tool best suited for particular types of knowledge sharing or collaboration. According to Joe Schneider from the Knowledge and Intranet Management team, the key distinction in selecting the right tool or application is choosing between communication and collaboration as the primary goal. Figure 6 illustrates what Schneider calls the “Collaboration Landscape,” which outlines which tool is best suited to achieve a given KM goal. The 2x2 matrix in Figure 6 includes one axis with synchronous and asynchronous collaboration, and the other represents communication and collaboration. For example, as the chart outlines, HP uses Exchange and Outlook for e-mail, since it is more of an “any time” form of communication. Blogs and forums fall close to the middle of collaboration and communication for “any time” work. Document libraries are used to share active knowledge across the KM team. Schneider notes that they are currently seeing more integration between the real time and anytime types of work. In the future, Schneider expects to see more unified communications from a few directions, including instant messaging, the voice over IP, or application sharing, allowing a team space user to look at a document and also see if that author is currently online.

Figure 6: Collaboration Landscape

Security and Privacy Issues

To ensure that staff members use collaborative technologies appropriately, the HP KM team relies on its general standards of business conduct, as well as self-policing. For example, if a member of a community of practice or discussion forum is not using the forum appropriately, then other members of the community will typically inform the user of the in appropriate behavior and thus eliminate the need for any further action.

Regarding the security of information that is proprietary or sensitive, the KM team’s philosophy is to be as open within its firewall as possible and limit access only when absolutely necessary. HP forums are open to all HP employees, and the organization has strong policies for issuing credentials for external collaboration and granting external access to SharePoint sites. Any external access requires permission from the KM team, and there is a limit to the lifetime of that access. Additionally, the HP website contains a reminder regarding the confidentiality of all data, and all HP employees participate in mandatory training each year regarding data and employee privacy. Regarding personal data of employees, all such data sharing is on an opt-in basis only (e.g., submitting a profile on the me@hp site).

III. Addressing Organizational and Cultural Issues by Balancing People, Process, and Technology

I don’t recommend that you try to change the culture. It’s better to understand the culture and work within the culture.

— Stan Garfield, Worldwide KM, Hewlett-Packard

Deploying and Using Collaborative Enterprise 2.0 Technologies

Most of HP’s efforts regarding new and evolving technologies are driven from the bottom up. The KM team has found that grass-roots deployment and business unit pilots of tools and applications have been effective methods of engaging employees and spurring innovative thinking and idea generation, while also educating management. Bottom up adoption of tools and application also increases adoption and “buy-in” among the user group.

However, the KM team at HP also stresses the importance of obtaining senior leadership commitment and involvement in KM activities. According to the KM team, the most beneficial scenario is to have senior leaders participate in activities and therefore lead the rest of the organization by example. For example, the leader of HP’s imaging and printing group regularly blogs to share information and therefore more people within that business unit are also using blogs. Other types of commitment that the KM team looks for from leadership include:

  1. Approval of a reasonable budget;
  2. Ensure that all KM leaders have the time to participate in KM activities;
  3. Learn how to give a KM program overview presentation;
  4. Communicate regularly about the organization’s Km activities;
  5. Provide time during leadership team meetings for KM communications;
  6. Ensure that KM goals are set for employees and enforced;
  7. Inspect compliance to KM goals; and
  8. Reward employees who learn, share, reuse, collaborate, and innovate.

Communicating and Marketing New Technologies

HP does not actively promote the Web 2.0 technologies within the organization. It indicates that motivation to use these applications usually comes from seeing the tool being used effectively by others, and the sharing of success stories. However, the KM team does use certain forms of communication in order to “keep in touch” with employees. For example, Stan Garfield publishes a one-page newsletter once a month called “KM News.” This newsletter is kept to one page so people will have time to read it and learn more about the latest happenings in the area of knowledge management, including updates on available tools and applications.

Additionally, the KM group does offer a wide variety of training on certain applications to spread the message about the various tools available. For example, the KM team hosts regular Webinars, which are recorded and made widely available. The group also supports knowledge briefs written by those who are knowledgeable on key subjects, such as “How to Produce a Podcast.”

Incentives for Adoption

The KM team at HP realizes that opinions differ on the idea of rewarding employees for knowledge sharing and using particular tools or applications. Stan Garfield notes that some people believe that the motivation resulting from rewards will eventually decrease, but he also indicates that in knowledge sharing at HP, offering financial rewards has been successful at getting people’s attention, so it has become part of their knowledge management implementation plan, and currently have multiple reward programs.

One example of such a rewards program is the knowledge brief reward. A knowledge brief is a brief written document prepared by employees where they share experiences, information and best practices. This reward system, according to Garfield, is one of their most proven practices and operates like a frequent flyer program. Anytime a staff member submits five knowledge briefs, he will receive a monetary reward. Ten knowledge briefs will result in an additional monetary reward. The knowledge authoring program is another reward system that offers financial rewards for those employees who publish content.

One of the more recent rewards programs is the KM stars program. Under this system, employees accumulate points for publishing knowledge briefs, posting into the forums, and uploading solution documents. Employees receive points and are ranked according to the number of points obtained, so people can see how they compare to their peers. Employees used to have to claim credit for their efforts, but now the system is automated and points are automatically added for an employee when they participate in one of the above mentioned knowledge sharing tasks. At the end of each month, the top three employees with the most points receive a monetary reward.

Roles to Support Evolving Technologies

The KM team at HP places great importance on the people component of knowledge management. According to Stan Garfield, in addition to incentives and rewards, the following are the important people components to address at HP for successful knowledge sharing and supporting new and evolving technologies.

  • culture and values
  • knowledge managers
  • user surveys and employee satisfaction surveys
  • social networks
  • communities
  • training
  • documentation
  • communications
  • user assistance and knowledge help desk
  • goals and measurements
  • incentives and rewards

As the above list indicates, one of the more important roles in knowledge management at HP is the knowledge manager. The KM team looks for a particular mix of skills in a knowledge manager. According to the HP KM team, important characteristics of a knowledge manager include being: a leader, a manager, a project manager, a communicator, an analyst, an expert (in people, process and technology), respected, a connector (linking people to each other), a “maven” (helping others through sharing knowledge), and a salesman. Other important roles critical to successful knowledge management include forum moderators, wiki editors, and portal content owners.

Another key role in supporting evolving knowledge sharing technologies is the knowledge advisor. A knowledge advisor is someone who can help a user use the KM environment, especially if that user has a limited amount of time to search for information or expertise. Half of a knowledge advisor’s job responsibilities include helping users find the right tools for their objective, use the tools appropriately, search for information and connect to other people and experts. There is one knowledge advisor assigned to each region of the world and can also proactively contact employees who may not have asked for help and offer KM support for a new project. These advisors also monitor project profiles for missing data. Advantages of knowledge advisors also include being available by phone for employees who are off site or otherwise cannot get a connection to the HP site. Those that have used this service have reported it as being very helpful.


Training is another people component of knowledge management at HP. E-learning has been replaced with a program called “Grow at HP.” This system allows employees to participate in on-line classes, get transcripts of training classes, and take and keep track of mandatory training they have completed. As mentioned previously, the KM team offers a variety of training courses on collaborative tools and applications. Trainings also include regular webinars and podcasts.

Risk Mitigation

HP indicates that its Knowledge & Intranet Management team is currently creating a strategy to mitigate the risks associated with newer and evolving technologies. The organization notes that it feels risk is not about content, but more about redundancy. For example, the organization realizes that a more controlled approach to wikis, similar to the approach used for discussion forums, will most likely be necessary in the future. For discussion forums and SharePoint portals, the organization encourages anyone to propose a forum or portal, but the KM team will either approve or deny the request. If the request is reasonable, meaning not redundant of another forum, then the KM team will grant approval, but if the proposed forum or portal is duplicative of an existing forum or portal, then the request will be denied. Additionally, if a forum or portal is created and not used, then that forum or portal will be closed after two months of inactivity.

The KM team notes that there is no anonymity in their Enterprise 2.0 environment. The underlying philosophy is that people are responsible for their content. For the future, the team is currently addressing and reviewing policies for blogging, looking to answer questions such as how long should a blog be maintained before being archived? Another important question facing the KM team is should information only be shared on a “need to know” basis in order to safeguard intellectual property, or in other words, what type of information is confidential and what type of information can be shared?


Joe Schneider, from the Knowledge and Intranet Management group notes that there have been expected barriers and issues in the adoption of Web 2.0 technologies, as well as issues that they expected to arise but did not, and also a few minor “surprises.” In the category of expected issues, Schneider cites the ongoing challenge of making the business justification for creating and adopting newer technologies, as well as calculating the return on investment for these technologies. Examples of expected issues that have proven not to be such a challenge include inappropriate behavior on tools such as blogs and communities, as well as being overwhelmed by the number of responses to a blog or forum posting. Both of these expected issues have proven to be unfounded to date. Garfield and Schneider note that users have abided by the standard guidelines for business conduct while using these types of tools, and that there have not been reports of any difficulty in keeping up with blog responses or forum postings. Minor surprises in the Web 2.0 “journey” include people’s continuing fear of “letting go” of the reliability of e-mail, as well as the ongoing tension between sharing knowledge and information and protecting proprietary content. Schneider notes that many users still fear sharing ideas in “open” areas such as forums and blogs.

Effect of Generational Differences

Not surprisingly, the KM team at HP notes that generational differences do affect the acceptance of the more evolving tools and applications for knowledge sharing. The newer, younger employees or “digital natives” as they are often referred to, expect applications such as wikis and blogs and are quick to adopt such tools. HP notes that they must adopt many of these technologies in order to attract younger employees. Conversely, the older generations are less interested in and less likely to use new tools or methods. The younger employees play a key role in increasing the adoption by older employees by directly sharing success stories with their older peers and demonstrating the inherent benefits of the various tools and technologies in the performance of everyday job duties.

IV. Evaluate the Current and Future Technologies

Effectiveness of Enterprise 2.0 Technologies and Applications

The KM team at HP focuses on three types of measurements to evaluate the effectiveness of Enterprise 2.0 technologies on knowledge sharing. These measures are capture, re-use and participation. The KM team produces monthly reports with detailed graphs for every region to report each of the three measures being collected. In addition, Stan Garfield publishes a monthly compilation of discussion forum success stories in order to promote the usage and show the value of using forums and communities of practice to collaborate and transfer knowledge.

Capture refers to the percentage of projects that are new and that get entered into the repository as projects. The goal for capture is 100 percent, but has not reached that level yet.

The participation measure tracks how many people participate in the communities of practice and forums. Again the desired goal is to achieve 100 percent participation, and although it has not reached that level, Garfield notes that the trend is moving in this direction. Participation is measured for forums only — not for blogs, wikis, or other tools.

Re-use is the third significant measure. When the KM team captures a project profile, they ask the project team to indicate what percent of the project content was re-used from other sources. These responses are then averaged to calculate the re-use measure. Although 100 percent re-use would be the ideal, if a respondent indicates at least 40 percent re-use on a given project, then that is considered a good amount of re-use by the KM team. An example of 100 percent re-use would involve a case where someone was able to take an existing template or document and make only minor changes before delivering it to a client. If an employee indicates that they did not re-use anything on a project, then that is considered a “red flag” by the KM team and they will follow up with that employee to find out the reasons behind not re-using any existing content.

Another type of measure collected by the KM team is the user survey, which is also one of the previously mentioned people components for effective knowledge management. Stan Garfield notes that these are particularly helpful in finding out the likes and dislikes of the users, as well as what tools users know about and actively use. Garfield does not conduct these surveys on a regular basis, but recommends them especially at the beginning of an initiative. Employee satisfaction surveys were conducted for a year, and when the results didn’t vary much from month to month, they were discontinued.

Plans for the Future — What’s Next?

When asked what the collaboration landscape will look like in three years, the KM team at HP notes that here will be a greater emphasis on leveraging the collective intelligence across HP as an organization, and the early adopters of current technology are continuously looking forward to what will be the most beneficial applications in the future to achieve this.

One example of an application that will potentially be used more in the future is a commercial offering that HP uses and sells called Halo, which is designed for highly effective video collaboration. Halo is a network of precisely designed rooms that lets users meet with colleagues on the other side of the world as if they were right across the table. The Halo studio — designed by DreamWorks Animation in partnership with HP — provides life-size, real-time, eye-to-eye conferencing with outstanding audio and no delay. HP employees can use Halo at no charge in any of the 30 locations worldwide.

HP is also examining the use of Second Life as a method for capturing knowledge from sources such as retirees and increased social bookmarking, where users can tag their favorite websites. Social bookmarking is currently housed on an internal server called HP bookmarking server.

Critical Success Factors and Lessons Learned

The HP KM team identifies the following as lessons learned from its experiences with integrating collaborative technologies into KM initiatives:

  • Start by defining your most compelling business needs and opportunities, not by selecting technologies. Implement processes and tools which address these needs. Do not roll out a tool and try to get it adopted if it does not meet an agreed upon, existing high-priority need.
  • Collaborate closely with IT, while ensuring that IT meets the needs of the business, not the other way around.
  • Keep people, process, and technology in balance in a KM program. Appoint a leader for each in the core KM team.
  • Try things out and iterate, rather than taking a long time before implementation.
  • Meet commitments, produce useful deliverables, and solicit feedback for improvements.
  • Build a core team of highly-competent, creative, results-oriented, respected thought leaders. Expand the team into a virtual one by inviting KM leads from all key stakeholder organizations. Govern teams by using formal project management. Communicate within the teams relentlessly.
  • Be willing to fail. There will be moribund forums, empty wikis, and forgotten blogs as a team discovers the right application of these ideas and the right processes for successful use.
  • There’s a lot of ‘muscle memory’ in the old ways of doing things (email instead of wikis, newsletters instead of blogs). It takes time and patience to break old habits and form new ones.

The KM team also identifies the following as other key enablers to implementing new and evolving technologies into a KM program:

  • Leverage the grassroots effort.
  • Look for existing structures that can be adapted (using the governance process for discussion forums to apply to wikis).
  • Apply learning from other KM initiatives.
  • View it as a “diffusion of innovations challenge.” (Get adoption from high-status people to make usage observable).

Knowledge Management Author and Speaker, Founder of SIKM Leaders Community, Community Evangelist, Knowledge Manager

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