Knowledge sharing systems, intranets, and social platforms have long been used by firms to improve communication between their employees. In spite of this, creating a viable, encouraging system remains an elusive goal for many companies. Jim Martin, our Chief Information Officer, presented about Shepley Bulfinch’s experience with knowledge architecture, and how we ended up with our current #AskFinch knowledge sharing framework at the KA Connect Conference in 2016.
The journey began in 2015, roughly a year after we launched our intranet, Finch. At the time, technical knowledge passed between employees in conversation or remained buried in email inboxes. We had a “Technical Advisory Group” (TAG) set up to answer these technical questions, but it didn’t function as effectively as possible- there was no system for sharing questions and answers across the firm. While Finch’s structure enabled posting, it did not encourage firm-wide interaction. In order to fill the gap,we launched #AskFinch, a deliberately designed and supported system that established a set of expectations behind the experience of seeking technical help on the intranet The process is simple – every question posted via #AskFinch is guaranteed to receive at least one answer within 24 hours. More than likely, it will receive answers from multiple staff members happy to share their knowledge.
Jim Martin attributes a number of factors to the level of success in the initiative. “It is interesting,” he says, “because it was never a technology problem. When we first rolled out Finch, we did a number of things that were designed to help prep the culture of Shepley Bulfinch for social enterprise. Granted, the values that the firm nurtured up to that point made everyone well primed for it. People were very open about sharing.” Although the company is not the first in the AEC industry to develop a knowledge-sharing system, Jim remarks that the real novelty behind the firm’s implementation of it is data measuring and analysis. “We put in the time and effort to create data analytics that helps us gain immediate insight into the health of the #AskFinch process and compare progress over time.”
His presentation at the KA Connect Conference explores how the firm used metrics to improve the experience and efficiency of sharing knowledge firm-wide. For the full story and video of the presentation, check out KA Connect’s Blog