posted 5 Apr 2004 in Volume 7 Issue 7
Five minutes with… Anouk van de Stedt
Jacquie Bran, head of Ark Group's events team, spoke to Anouk van de Stedt, KM project leader at ABN Amro. She has been involved in KM since its inception at the bank and has experience in developing and co-ordinating KM programmes, overcoming cultural barriers to new ways of working and successfully documenting their implementation process.
When and why did you start addressing knowledge management within your organisation?
In 1998, ABN Amro initiated a global project called the Common Human Resources Information System Programme (Chrisp). Chrisp provides a global, world-class, human-resources-information infrastructure that supports processes on an HR, business, strategic and corporate level. To support HR processes we implemented a function-wide management system from PeopleSoft. The Chrisp project consists of a centralised team that co-ordinates implementation efforts in the various countries where ABN Amro operates, which is carried out in close collaboration with country-based teams to address local knowledge needs.
This way of implementing the system gave me reason to launch a project proposal about knowledge management (KM) in the beginning of 2000. The scope of this project was to control the knowledge for the global implementation of the management system.
Were you given a mandate for knowledge management or did the need for it develop organically?
Based on my KM proposal, Chrisp’s programme manager gave me the mandate to begin researching KM within Chrisp. The research started with the creation of a knowledge-management assessment, which made it possible to check the maturity of the project in line with KM. After this we began the internal KM research for Chrisp.
How long did it take you to develop a strategy for knowledge management and who was involved?
During my KM research, which took approximately four months, I developed our KM strategy in tight collaboration with the Chrisp programme manager.
What is your timeline for implementing knowledge management and what do you anticipate the biggest challenges will be?
The KM project ended at the end of 2002. In 2003 KM became a ‘staff’ department of Chrisp. Implementing KM within a project-centric environment is a challenging endeavour. Doing so in a fast-paced working atmosphere where employees are constantly changing roles and knowledge transfer must occur prior to employees leaving is an even greater challenge.
Our major challenges are tackling how to change the way people work within the scope of the project and integrating KM in business processes. To be successful, KM relies on people’s attitudes evolving and a growing acceptance that it is a worthwhile investment of their time and effort. We believe it is important to give team members time to accustom themselves to the new working situation and to ensure lines of communication are effective and open.
Has knowledge management delivered any quick win benefits or longer term results for you so far?
In Chrisp we aimed to achieve quick wins before looking at longer term results to keep people motivated. These were mostly with our collaboration or KM tool. Using a KM tool in a world-wide environment meant that we were able to have the right documentation (working documents and general information about the project) at the right time and in the right place. Long-term results are more in line with our general strategy. We have a strong induction programme, a proven implementation method and a documented approach for rapid and consistent results.
Did you pilot knowledge management before taking it to the implementation stage?
We only did a pilot for the ICT side of KM, our KM tool, not the organisational or people side of KM. We had not tested ways to arrange the processes of Chrisp to optimise services, motivate Chrisp team members, and improve, share and use knowledge before implementation commenced.
What are KM’s goals within your organisation?
We have a variety of different aims which include:
• Collaboration improvements;
• Effective and efficient working;
• Better international exchange of experience and knowledge;
• Disclosure of knowledge gaps;
• Maintaining continuity and quickly getting new team members up to speed;
• Integration of different Chrisp projects and better attunement.
What are the most important lessons learnt here?
It is hard to transform working processes. We learnt how important it is to not place expectations on your team members or employees to change their ways of working overnight. It has become apparent that KM and its implemention is an on-going process, day after day, year after year and have not yet reached the end.
Anouk van de Stedt is KM project leader at ABN Amro. She can be contacted at email@example.com