Knowledge Centers Improve Knowledge Capture and Sharing
As the industry experiences significant changes to the way we do business, knowledge capture and sharing are more important now than ever before. The maturing digitalization of the biopharma industry’s business and processes is creating an increasingly data- and information-rich environment that requires more effective mechanisms for sharing data and information. The Knowledge Management team at Amgen created knowledge centers to make it easier to get the right information to the right people at the right time.
In these uniquely busy and challenging times, it is easy for knowledge capture and sharing to fall in the list of priorities. This presents a tremendous opportunity to develop the means to embrace and enable the creation, democratization, and reuse of institutional knowledge, and to facilitate its continuous growth. Communication via a variety of channels has emerged and evolved as a critical skill for not only the day-to-day, “keep the lights on” activities, but also for knowledge sharing and consumption.
To that end, the Knowledge Management team at Amgen has innovated knowledge capture and sharing in multiple ways. One highlight that illustrates this innovative processing is the creation of knowledge centers as a primary use case within our Knowledge MarketPlace. The Knowledge Market-Place is an operations-wide SharePoint knowledge repository and search tool. Knowledge centers are topic-based pages within the Knowledge Market-Place. We define knowledge centers as a one-stop shop for topic-based information that is relevant to particular functions, is continuously curated, includes established taxonomy for categorization and findability, and employs content collections. All timely and relevant knowledge is surfaced in the knowledge centers for even greater ease of access.
When we decided to create the knowledge centers, we knew we needed a good partner for a proof of concept project. Fortunately, with the Technology Transfer Global Network (TTGN), we found a collaborator that was interested and ready to improve its ability to capture and disseminate lessons learned. Technology transfer consists of all activities required to transfer a defined manufacturing process into a manufacturing facility, beginning with site selection and concluding with regulatory licensure. TTGN is a collaboration system of experts who meet regularly to discuss lessons learned and share knowledge pertaining to all activities within the technology transfer life cycle.
TTGN collaborated with our team to build a scalable and sustainable system that would satisfy the TTGN requirements and deliver desired business value. This case study describes the problem, opportunity, process used, and created outcomes and business benefits.
TTGN had disparate locations for the capture and storage of lessons learned, and much of the information was also tacit knowledge only. Varied processes and tools were used to capture and share information. The Knowledge MarketPlace wasn’t used as effectively as possible; therefore, the content captured was not standardized or shared effectively. Additionally, the timing varied for the lessons learned captured and the facilitation timing of lessons learned tended to occur retrospective to the technology transfers. Culturally, this wasn’t always part of the process, and as such, teams were not using a consistent approach to capture and share lessons learned.
In an effort to drive continuous improvement of our processes and practices, the team recognized the need to develop competency in the area of knowledge management. This included aligning on a knowledge management strategy and making the necessary tools and resources available. After benchmarking and analysis, the team decided to build a lessons learned knowledge capture system by leveraging an out-of-the-box SharePoint platform.
With this functionality, lessons learned became available to anyone, at any time, in any function or workstream, making lessons learned capture and sharing easy. Building the system brought the Knowledge Management and Technology Transfer teams together—two groups motivated to collaborate and create a knowledge management module that is easy to use, has a pleasing and effective user interface, and meets the customers’ needs and requirements.
An Agile/Scrum approach was employed to create a development plan and manage project execution. Using an Agile/Scrum framework ensured an outcome that would be aligned with stakeholder needs, flexible, and easy to change in stride as new opportunities arose.
The Knowledge Management team performed a voice of customer (VOC) study that helped identify all user and system requirements (wishes and desires) and facilitated workshops with the TTGN workstream leads and subject matter experts. From the VOC, we learned what the ultimate users preferred as a desired end state, including a lessons learned contribution form that would be easy to use, with autofill fields, intuitive dropdowns, predictive text programing, workflow communications to appropriate users, and the ability to save previous info in the form when making additional entries for the same transfer or project.
The quality of the knowledge captured has improved tremendously. The use of the new system has made knowledge capture more routine and implicit. The capture and dissemination of tacit knowledge, as it pertains to technology transfer, is becoming an issue of the past.
From a lesson learned capture perspective, the team wanted a solution that captured all pertinent information and quantified benefits of the lesson learned, was easily filterable and keyword searchable, that functioned as a collaboration tool that collected commentary and shared data with the right people within the system itself, and could be used as a presentation tool in place of PowerPoint presentations.
The teams conducted knowledge mapping exercises to identify and map the critical business processes with the relevant knowledge elements to create alignment and identify gaps in the availability and quality of data and information. The team further refined the gap analysis using a people, process, technology, and content (PPTC) framework, highlighting the relationship to the current state, gaps identified, and proposed design factors, which were later translated to specific design requirements and a knowledge management solution framework for each capability.
- A topic-based, “one-stop shop” knowledge center specific to technology transfer that answered all the questions raised during the requirement gathering stage.
- Searchable, filterable, viewable, editable, and presentable lessons learned with consistent ontologies.
- Workflow notification sent to workstream leads whenever a “high” impact ranked lesson learned is added in case it’s an issue that needs to be reviewed immediately.
- Extracurricular features on knowledge centers such as “contribute,” “search,” pertinent knowledge assets, analytics/metrics reports, collaboration tools, pertinent instructional videos from users, links to other pertinent sites, interdependent processes, external industry lessons learned, and links to subject matter experts.
- The necessary knowledge is captured and made available in the form of lessons learned.
- The quality of the knowledge captured has improved tremendously. The use of the new system has made knowledge capture more routine and implicit. The capture and dissemination of tacit knowledge, as it pertains to technology transfer, is becoming an issue of the past.
- The team has also realized that the knowledge center is not only a knowledge-sharing tool but also a key mechanism to drive continuous improvement of our processes and practices.
- TTGN is actively capturing lessons learned at multiple stages throughout the technology transfer life cycle, thus facilitating greater knowledge flow everywhere it’s identified, created, captured, shared, and reused.
- In just a few months, almost 500 lessons learned were added to the new centralized database. Of those, 35 have been given a “high” impact ranking. The quantified benefits, thus far, for only three of those “high” ranked lessons learned captured directly equate to a cost avoidance of $5.5 million in waste reduction attributed to labor hour savings, specifically in the form of delay prevention, cycle time reduction, “right the first time” processing, and mistake proofing implementation.
- Rather than creating multiple PowerPoint slides from memory of issues and lessons learned that happened months ago, teams are using the system in real time in their team meetings, and if necessary, immediately for “high” impact ranking. They simply submit the issue in the system, perform a review, and make edits if necessary. Comments are captured with workflow notification to necessary recipients.
As TTGN has realized the benefits of knowledge centers, so too have many other groups and workstreams at Amgen. Because of the positive response and frequent use of the Lessons Learned Knowledge Center, the Knowledge Management team has had an influx of requests for additional knowledge centers. At the end of 2021, we had a total of 44 topic-based knowledge centers with topics ranging from operational readiness to operational excellence and everything in between. To this end, new knowledge centers have been added, including those that specifically capture lessons learned from many functions other than TTGN. The Lessons Learned Knowledge Center is a simple concept that makes knowledge capture and dissemination easy and fun.