posted 20 Jul 2004 in Volume 7 Issue 10
Five minutes with: Michael Behounek, Halliburton
James Renton, project manager with the Knowledge Management events team, speaks to Michael Behounek, director of knowledge management at Halliburton.
How did you first become involved in knowledge management?
Halliburton’s company vision is to be the real-time knowledge company servicing the upstream industry, so knowledge management always received strong support from management. In summer 2001, the CEO of Halliburton Energy Services Group (ESG) brought a team together to consider how KM could support the company’s vision. I was part of that team. We studied numerous companies that had implemented knowledge management and looked into their good practices and lessons learnt. The team then produced a framework for implementation and recommended a set of three pilot projects.
The plan was to provide a proof of concept and demonstrate how knowledge management could be used to improve service quality. We had a fixed budget and an absolute mandate to roll out the projects within four months. Working intensely with teams that represented the pilot communities, we were able to roll out the first three projects. Since then, we have successfully deployed 17 knowledge-management projects and documented a return of more than $30m in cost savings and value added.
Can you give a personal example of KM in action in your organisation?
We’ve been collecting KM stories from the beginning; anyone associated with KM at Halliburton can probably give you several examples. Here’s one that happened just recently. A customer in North America had a problem, one that had never been encountered in a well in the area. He had exhausted all known solutions and faced a total loss of the well. Our engineer decided to ask the community for help and quickly had several potential solutions to similar problems that had occurred in other parts of the world. He presented a few of these to the client, along with his own recommendation. The result for the customer was a saved well. The result for ESG was the award of a second well, adding a million dollars to our revenue and additional work in the future.
What is currently the most important KM initiative within your organisation?
Our most important initiative continues to be creating communities that focus on improving service quality, retaining knowledge that could be lost due to an ageing workforce, and improving innovation and knowledge creation.
What kind of benefits are you expecting from your KM activities?
At ESG, our motto is ‘done right’: we intend to do every job correctly first time around. With a global organisation, we cannot allow each local organisation the opportunity to learn from its own mistakes. Our communities ensure that people around the globe share their issues, problems and solutions so that every local organisation can use that knowledge.
Have you attempted to measure the value that KM has brought to your organisation?
Since our KM programme focuses on targeted projects with a specific business case rather than enterprise solutions, we define metrics during the project-development phase and get buy-in from the business unit’s senior leadership. These metrics are tracked monthly and presented to the leadership team every quarter. We measure factors like portal usage, but more importantly we track metrics that easily relate to money, such as the time to complete a work order, maintenance costs, customer satisfaction and non-productive time. We also collect anecdotal stories from each community to support and illustrate the hard metrics. Since launching our first KM projects in 2002, our measures show a value of over $30m.
Have you faced any specific cultural challenges in relation to KM?
Moving from a centralised knowledge store of experts to a peer-support network has been very difficult for one of our communities. Just a few years ago, all issues concerning a particular service went to a small team of experts within our tech centre. The team provided a solution directly to the end user. It was a challenge getting members to change their habits and consult the community before calling the expert. Likewise, it was difficult to get the technical experts to see the community as support instead of an infringement on their time.
What success have you had with communities of practice?
Problem-solving communities of practice have enabled us to share knowledge, reduce failures, transfer good practices and increase market share. They discuss issues that are important to the community but we have also been successful at sharing knowledge across communities.
What has been the most important KM lesson that you have learned?
First, start with a clear business objective that will galvanise a community and then measure success. Admittedly, that’s easier said than done. We work hard to determine metrics for KM that can be captured without disrupting the organisation and then monitor them rigorously to ensure the KM solution stays on track and produces results.
Michael Behounek, director of knowledge management, Halliburton