TCS has developed its knowledge management solution from its intranet. Being the grand old man of the Indian IT industry, they slowly developed all their internal processes and gathered a lot of information.
This information was made available on intranets. However, these were only present at the branch-office level, making it difficult for one branch to get information from another. For example, if someone wanted to create a project proposal, then finding information on how to do it was very difficult. This was either available in previous projects buried somewhere in an intranet, or not available at all. And if the information was available on another branch’s intranet, it became very difficult to pass this information.
To overcome this and other problems, it was planned to consolidate this information to make it available across all branches. This led to the idea of developing a knowledge repository on top of all intranets, containing pertinent information like all process definitions, quality policies, standards and guidelines, etc. To this, various capturing mechanisms were added so that users could share their information with others across the organization.
TCS built its knowledge management system using Lotus Domino server. This was used across all branches and ensured that information on the intranet was available to all employees across the country. The Domino replication services were used for the purpose. Various security levels were also defined for accessing this repository—not everyone was given access to everything. Most users were given access through a Web browser, while some, like the managers, were given Lotus Notes client.
The knowledge management solution was conceptualized five years ago in 1995, and a corporate GroupWare division was formed in 1998 to head the process. The group came out with a strategy to implement the system, and ways of acquiring knowledge. The system was well planned and took the equivalent of 25 man-years for completion. The entire project was handled internally, including application development, content generation, etc. One of the best things we found in the system was allocation of responsibilities. There were six different types of teams defined for managing the knowledge base. A steering committee comprising the CEO and top management took into account all the strategic decision-making. The GroupWare committee piloted the entire project. One-point contacts were defined in different departments for information. There was a separate editorial team at each branch to ensure that the content being put was in “propah” English. A corporate communications group handled the publication of content.
The route for passing the information was well defined. So, if a user wanted to put something on the intranet, he would pass the information to his branch champion for validation. From here, it was passed on to the editorial team for corrections. This team then passed on the information to the corporate communications group that handled proper placing of the content on the intranet. Some types of information, like that related to projects, had to be put in the knowledge base. Therefore, it was made compulsory for the project team leaders to submit complete project details to the quality assurance team. Otherwise, the project wouldn’t be cleared. This helped keep the repository updated with important information.
Currently, about 8,000 of TCS employees have access to the knowledge base. It has helped in consolidating all the information gained by the company till now.