For large or fast-growing firms, knowledge management (KM) has emerged as a key discipline over the years for improving productivity, growth, risk management, and innovation. See YourStory’s coverage of the CII Global Knowledge Virtual Summit 2020 and Bangalore K-Community.
Hinduja Global Solutions (HGS), part of the diversified Hinduja Group, is a global leader in business process management (BPM) and optimising the customer experience lifecycle. It aims to deliver transformational impact to clients via digital solutions. HGS has a network of customer experience centres across the US, Canada, UK, India, Jamaica, UAE, and the Philippines.
Sanjay Sastri is Associate Vice President, HGS Corporate Business Excellence. He has over 25 years of experience across India and the Middle East in global project management, business transformation, process automation, Lean Six Sigma, Kaizen, and KM. This applies to a range of industries like oil and gas, insurance, banks, hospitals, manufacturing, and power.
Sandhya Nagaraj is Senior Manager, HGS Corporate Business Excellence. She has 15 years of experience in enterprise content creation, campaign management, KM, and people, performance and project management. She leads the HGS KM Project, and is a certified design thinking professional. Sandhya has previously worked for Infosys, Deloitte and Accenture KM teams.
Sanjay and Sandhya join YourStory in this chat on the KM journey at HGS, impacts, trends, and recommendations for industry professionals.
Edited excerpts of the interview:
YourStory: How would you describe the KM journey at HGS, in terms of phases and achievements?
Sanjay & Sandhya: With globalisation changing workforce demographics, and the need to fuel sustainable innovation, it has become imperative for companies to leverage the capabilities of KM and collaboration in developing and engaging their workforce.
Hence, in early 2010, HGS adopted KM and as a first step to create a collaborative and knowledge sharing environment, we identified Knowledge Champions/ SPOCS (single-points of contact) across multiple locations. They would play a key role in establishing KM as a part of everyday business.
We first spent time in identifying best practices, concepts, initiatives, success stories, and lessons learnt from existing engagements as well as those in transition. Emphasis was more on creating repositories and identifying assets that could be leveraged or shared across locations, and we spent nearly six to eight months in gathering such content.
We were successful in getting about 100 knowledge assets initially documented in a set format so that employees could leverage them. Post gathering content, the HGS KM initiative and portal was named as SPARK: Sharing Practices and Replicating Knowledge.
Initially we started only in India, and later expanded to Philippines and the US. We slowly on-boarded these two geographies after a successful start in India. From 2012 onwards, we saw momentum in the US and Philippines and these geo’s started looking at what was available. They started replicating practices and witnessed positive impact in meeting contractual metrics.
With what was witnessed as a successful KM adoption, we then established a platform for employees to share their best practices and success stories via webinars. We had the HGS CEO drive webinars through his active participation, and slowly knowledge sharing and collaboration became a part of leadership KRAs.
This created a lot of excitement amongst leaders in multiple geo’s, and we saw more than 400 replications in a year. We conducted road shows, meetings, and so on to increase the reach of KM concepts. This gave us the opportunity to also support the sales team for RFPs and other collaterals, so KM gradually became part of the DNA of the organisation.
Today, we have more than 2,000 knowledge assets and nearly 4,000 replications across geographies. HGS has a robust process that is leveraged by various functions to provide frictionless services to customers – internal, external, and potential.
These practices and their replication have seen a positive impact for accounts in terms of improvement in productivity, revenues, CSAT (customer satisfaction), Average Handling Time (AHT), employee engagement, and the like, and have also formed the basis for responses to RFPs, RFIs, and RFQs to prospective clients.
YourStory: What kind of impact has KM delivered to your business?
Sanjay & Sandhya: KM is the integral part of our organisation and we have knowledge champions across multiple locations in India, North America (US, Canada), UK, Jamaica, and Philippines who drive KM in their specific accounts. Potential clients send their requests to Business Development/Solutions Design teams to respond to RFPs, and the KM team supports them with all relevant content to help build proposals and collaterals.
Today, we have established business-driven knowledge management across the board, for efficiency, quality, productivity, and error reduction. It helps provide inputs to create transition learnings and methodologies for knowledge retention and continuity, internal communications, and collaboration. Learning is enabled through KM culture, and leads to better proficiency, ongoing learning, employee engagement, and best practice sharing.
YourStory: Can you share examples of processes where KM is embedded into the workflow?
Sanjay & Sandhya: Most employees are laser-focused on completing work tasks and meeting their individual and team objectives—after all, that’s what they’re paid to do! They may see value in contributing a document to a shared repository or looking up how others have solved a particular problem in the past, but if the process takes too long or pulls them too far afield, they will quickly give up and move on.
When embedding KM in the workflow, the first step is to make it as easy as possible to contribute, access, and use enterprise knowledge. We position KM as an enabler.
Innovation can be defined as new promising project ideas, for which we build a high-level plan and case for action. KM helps reuse of any projects that were considered in previous years but eliminated.
Exploration involves putting together and evaluating a deal for each opportunity that would highlight costs and potential benefits, as well as opportunity costs.
Ultimately, it should be easy and intuitive to find and share knowledge.
YourStory: Can you describe some of your Communities of Practice (CoPs)?
Sanjay & Sandhya: Community forums challenge each of us to be a learner and a teacher. Communities create opportunities to grow through the development and sharing of best practices and expertise.
For example, we have established healthcare practice communities where we have senior leadership team drive the communities, and intellectual content is harvested. Through the wisdom of the crowd, insights are shared, debated, and developed.
YourStory: What are some of the roles and responsibilities of your KM team members?
Sanjay & Sandhya: As we are spread across multiple geographies, we have come up with an effective governance model to drive KM. We have KM SPOCS, or Champions who play a key role with oversight of KM. There are a number of roles and responsibilities in this regard, as described below.
a. Manage and communicate KM-related initiatives and manage schedule adherence for all deliverables pertaining to the SPARK program
b. Check on reports in terms of publications, replications, site visits, and downloads, and drive increase in instances
c. Collate information pertaining to metric improvements derived from replication instances, validate and confirm the final list of metric improvements, and provide them to the central KM team
d. Create a pipeline of niche practices from the geo that would be showcased in webinars
e. Collaborate with Account SPOCS to drive content and collaboration, vision/strategy, and SPARK Program of services in alignment with customer needs
f. Drive the rewards and recognition program
g. Collaborate with the KM Central team on KM solution design and development.
YourStory: What are some emerging opportunities and technologies that will impact your KM strategy?
Sanjay & Sandhya: Today’s Knowledge Management is a gamechanger for both driving efficiencies across an enterprise and providing a personalised customer experience. Hence, KM developments with a people focus are the next big opportunity.
Artificial intelligence, machine learning, and chatbots will be some of the key technologies that can bring in some changes to KM. We may also look at some of the current trends that provide practical insights into how people learn, possess knowledge, use knowledge in different kinds of work, innovate, and become motivated.
These developments provide the foundation required for creating KM approaches that will effectively support work environments and gain broad acceptance. Approaches to build and teach meta knowledge will become important as well, such as critical thinking to make people competent in tackling unfamiliar challenges and opportunities.
YourStory: What has been the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on your KM initiatives?
Sanjay & Sandhya: Working remotely is the new norm and aligns with the current reality. Perhaps the major challenge organisations have faced adjusting to the “new normal” has been the shift to remote working at an unprecedented scale. There is an increased need to tap into networks and reach out to internal and external support networks to ensure there are no hurdles in deliverables.
Initially, when we all started working from home, contribution to the KM program was slowly declining. Hence we developed an all-new communication strategy and also held engagement sessions with the Knowledge SPOCs to ensure the publications and replications happen as before.
This communication strategy helped us to increase the reach of the program and create visibility. We also started to send focused communication to set target audiences to cater to their needs.
We also came up with keyword search analysis. This helped us to understand what are some of the searches that has happened across locations, and if the KM portal caters to their needs.
This was also a time for us to work on the solutions dockets very specific to best practices around contractual metrics, so people spend less time to search for required best practices or case studies. These solution dockets came handy, as it was a consolidation of best-in-class assets.
YourStory: What are some of the next steps in your KM journey?
Sanjay & Sandhya:
• Drive consistent knowledge use and adoption across HGS and provide a centralised space for all knowledge management items required by employees to help customers and also get answers to their queries
• Create a centralised dynamic space that could include capabilities like community support, collaboration tools, AI features such as dynamic search, and auto tagging
• Power a dynamic self-help engine that could be hosted with the HGS website to assist in answering customer queries and pivot to the required channels of service when required (for unresolved queries or next level of escalation)
• Provide a robust reporting for the KM platform usage, and content
• Extensions to integrate with third party tools, audio/text chatbots, content management system, customer relationship management, Avaya, and so on, using APIs
• Knowledge automation through dynamic, real-time contextual knowledge delivery
• Leveraging speech analytics to drive KM results and improvements
• Human-inspired AI supercharging KM and enabling companies to innovate at speed.
YourStory: What are some of your tips or recommendations to other organisations, on how to develop and sustain a KM strategy?
Sanjay & Sandhya: With the rapidly changing market, most KM programmes have a variety of tools, approaches, and initiatives—and some will be better suited than others to meet this requirement.
Most likely, the best-fit solutions will be communities of practice, enterprise social, and enterprise search. KM teams need to send out tailored communications to remind people how and why to use these resources.
Knowledge management will surely continue to evolve and become more collaborative in a highly digital workplace. It has been a key part of helping businesses survive in the market.
By learning to more effectively use all the collaboration, project management and communication methodologies that are available – along with the selective use of a few new technologies such as AI, cognitive technology and visual data display – knowledge workers will continue to play a vital role in enterprise business.