November 5, 2021

Knowledge management at the heart of the Digital Workplace



5 min reading

What is the place of Knowledge Management in a Digital Workplace?

What role can Knowledge Management play in a Digital Workplace? How can knowledge be maintained and disseminated in a decentralised structure?

How can we facilitate long-term commitment? Bertrand Robiquet (Groupe Freyssinet) and Frédéric Veldeman (Keyrus) give us their answers.

In most companies, knowledge is overwhelmingly tacit (95%). The rest (5%) is explicit. Tacit knowledge comes from the professional experience acquired by employees during missions, informal exchanges or through monitoring. It corresponds to the know-how they possess from the projects in which they participate. But this knowledge - because it is not expressed anywhere - ultimately escapes the company, mainly because of the natural turnover of teams (resignations, retirements, etc.). It lives only through the interactions of the experts among themselves.

Explicit knowledge is materialised by procedures, methodological documents, video testimonials, etc. It represents the know-how that the company has been able to codify in a knowledge base. "For any company, the challenge is twofold. First of all, it consists in making tacit knowledge explicit. But it also consists, through a community principle, in maintaining tacit knowledge. The objective is to keep this know-how alive by establishing dialogue between experts within, for example, communities of practice", says Frédéric Veldeman, Senior Manager at Keyrus.

Maintaining and disseminating knowledge in 70 countries

Within the Freyssinet Group, a global civil engineering specialist and subsidiary of Vinci Construction, the challenges surrounding Knowledge Management have materialized in two ways since 2018. The first was to enable the group to maintain and disseminate knowledge within its structure, which is by definition decentralized (presence in 70 countries). "We wanted to enable each of the group's entities to benefit from the same knowledge base and to ensure that each entity could rely on more experienced subsidiaries, via feedback, good site practices, market analyses, etc.," notes Bertrand Robiquet, Knowledge Manager at Freyssinet.  

The second was to enable the engineers to acquire the additional knowledge needed to optimize the management of their projects and to develop the group's activities. "The operational staff wanted a knowledge base to be created so as not to reinvent the wheel every time. The issue was sponsored by the management, which decided to implement a real KM strategy," adds Bertrand Robiquet.

A specially created Knowledge Manager post

To support this strategy and to steer the knowledge management activity, a Knowledge Manager position was created, in the person of Bertrand Robiquet. "Coming from the field, within Freyssinet, I was aware of all the issues involved. My role is to ensure that the knowledge base is regularly expanded, that it remains structured and that it fully meets the expectations of the teams", he notes.

One of the first steps in this expression of need was to identify the knowledge involved. "Identifying the knowledge is what allows us to improve on a daily basis. It is about sharing technical know-how, but also, and above all, global know-how, linked to all our activities. This includes marketing, sales and operational approaches. After identification, this knowledge was consolidated through a tool, then valued and shared," says Bertrand Robiquet.  

The solution chosen by the Freyssinet group is a solution built on the SharePoint environment. This choice is the result of a company policy based on the Office 365 suite. "And to ensure that it becomes increasingly dynamic in terms of use, we relied on the Mozzaik365 solution to perfect the navigation of this tool," explains Bertrand Robiquet.

🔍 Discover 5 good reasons to create your Digital Workplace based on SharePoint and Microsoft

Mozzaik365's site factory for careful replication of existing models

The project, initially launched on one of the two activities of the Freyssinet group (the "Repair" part of buildings), was later extended to the "Construction" activity. For this purpose, Mozzaik365's site factory functionality was used. It allowed to make a careful replication by taking another look at the already existing models to reinject them from the Repair part to the Construction part.  

"Thanks to this site factory, the structure of the pages has been saved. This includes the layout, functionality and settings of the web parts, but also the metadata applied to the creation of the template. Policy and permissions are also retained. This makes it possible to maintain the public or private parameter of the sites, and to keep the user groups and their rights," explains Frédéric Veldeman (Keyrus).

💡 To go further on the navigation between sites created with the site factory, read our article on global navigation.

Facilitating long-term commitment

To ensure that user commitment does not wane over time, Bertrand Robiquet has based his approach on the following three principles. The first concerns the contribution assistance. The idea is to make life easier for contributors by simplifying editing. Any expert should be able to publish a record in the KM database in two clicks. The second principle concerns the efficiency of the search, in terms of quality, but also of relevance. Here it is essential to provide a fast and efficient search experience.  

Finally, the third principle is based on the dynamization of the consultation thanks to a contextualization of the KM use. It is imperative at this stage to know in which context the KM has the most added value : as a single portal or as a service block supporting a given activity ? On this point, the best way to consume KM is certainly in a business context, in a community. This is perhaps also where contributors - because they are focused on a specific topic - are most likely to spontaneously enrich the knowledge base.

What is the place of KM in the Digital Workplace?

Frédéric Veldeman (Keyrus), summarises the different forms that KM can take ina Digital Workplace: "In a Digital Workplace, there are often several sites and portals: HR, communication, KM... The knowledge portal then exists in its own right and is the single, central access point for the company's document assets. KM can also be used as a service brick that is injected into different sites, portals and business areas (legal, marketing, sales, HR, etc.), because it makes sense," he explains.

💡 Boost your knowledge management by transforming your Digital Workplace intranet.

He adds: "Finally, KM can be injected into a practice, monitoring or project community as a documentary base available to the project teams or communities concerned, with the aim of facilitating the creation of deliverables.

Knowledge management in the Digital Workplace

Freyssinet: more than satisfactory results

Freyssinet Group's KM project, launched three years ago, started with a base of 70 pages created to cover feedback, and also technical reference systems for the presentation of know-how.  

"Now we have 600 pages on the platform dedicated to our repair activity. Users like the tool, it is dynamic. Information is easy to find, there are bounces and contacts are proposed. This allows us to better identify the expertsIt allows us to share information, which is not always easy in a decentralised business model", notes Bertrand Robiquet (Groupe Freyssinet).

"However, the information made available is controlled by restricting access rights and creating groups, communities of practice and sub-domains that can only be accessed by entity owners. This avoids excessive downloading and data leakage.There isa large number of pages, but protection of this data has beenput in place," concludes a satisfied Bertrand Robiquet.

The replay of the webinar on the place of the Digital Workplace in knowledge management is still available on our website.

Things to remember

📌95% of knowledge is tacit in a company;

📌Explicit knowledge represents the know-how that the company has been able to codify in a knowledge base;

📌 The challenge for companies is to move tacit information up to explicit ;

Free Internal Communication whitepaper ! Get your copy now.

Access the resource