|Cap Gemini Ernst & Young and IBM Enable Global Access to Knowledge for Leading Engineering Firm |
|Fluor Corporation reports concrete benefits using new Lotus-based KM environment |
To help meet increasing customer demands and produce more effective and efficient facilities, Fluor Corporation set a goal in 1999 to become a premier provider of knowledge-based services. Fluor engaged Cap Gemini Ernst & Young (CGEY) to introduce knowledge-based services while building Knowledge OnLineSM, an innovative Web-based knowledge management (KM) environment, using leading collaboration technologies from IBM and Lotus.
Knowledge OnLine enables Fluor to quickly form and facilitate technology-enabled knowledge communities that address critical customer and project execution issues. The environment takes the best advantage of collective resources for the benefit of Fluor and its clients, enabling effective project execution, reduced risk and ability to tap into global expertise. It demonstrates that linking employees in meaningful communities enables them to share their collective knowledge and ultimately improves customer service.
Knowledge OnLine is built on Lotus Domino™, the premier platform for collaborative Web applications, and Lotus Sametime™, a leader in real-time collaboration. "The combined capability of these technologies, work processes and the intellectual assets of Fluor's employees results in our increased ability to undertake complex projects and apply the best engineering, design and construction services to facilities around the world," said John McQuary, vice president of knowledge management at Fluor.
The Global Need for Knowledge
Fluor is recognized as one of the world's largest publicly owned engineering, procurement, construction and maintenance companies. Fluor executes complex capital programs for customers in both traditional and evolving industries. Fluor's international workforce comprises more than 25 offices on six continents with approximately 50,000 employees (including field craft labor.) Over the past century, Fluor has become a trusted global business leader by providing industry expertise and technical knowledge across each customer's value chain and is consistently rated one of the world's safest contractors. Ranging from roads, refineries and power generating plants to clean-room and high-technology facilities, Fluor-engineered facilities provide solutions for many societal needs.
Fluor chose CGEY to help develop its KM environment based on CGEY's significant experience in knowledge management theory and practice and strong relationship with IBM/Lotus. "Their involvement was more than consulting; they were an integral part of the team and practiced knowledge management in their daily activities," McQuary said. "The fact that their knowledge management system is Lotus-based gave us confidence that we chose the right consulting group and technology. This experience was a key contributor to the success of this project."
In January 2001, CGEY received a coveted Lotus Beacon Award at the annual Lotusphere event for its work in utilizing IBM/Lotus technology for Knowledge OnLine. The award for "Greatest Business Impact" recognizes a solution that systematically leverages an organization's knowledge and people to measurably improve organizational responsiveness, innovation, competency and efficiency.
Sharing Knowledge across Communities
CGEY assisted Fluor in defining an approach to knowledge management based on the organizing concept of "communities," defined as groups of people who interact and share knowledge for any of the following reasons:
- they work together toward a common result and need to share knowledge about the task at hand,
- they work independently but perform similar job functions and have an interest in sharing knowledge about how best to perform their job, or
- they have an interest in the same information, even if they use the information for different purposes.
The organizational model of communities is key because it relies on natural social structures that motivate people to interact and share knowledge. The CGEY/Fluor team identified a strategic portfolio of communities critical to business results in Engineering, Construction, Marketing, Sales and Strategic Planning. Knowledge OnLine supports the knowledge-sharing goals of these communities by providing:
- content management capability that allows rich, community-specific classification, while simultaneously making documents available for cross-community searches,
- a consistent interface enabling members to collaborate, contribute and access knowledge regardless of their community, while allowing communities to configure the interface,
- ability to identify and associate experts with knowledge,
- a flexible, advanced security protocol, and
- stewardship to ensure that knowledge is accurate, fresh and applicable.
Capability to Grow
The CGEY/Fluor team established a rollout process for these communities that addresses the organizational factors associated with knowledge management as well as implementation of the technical capability.
"Using a common community template design, we quickly configure and deploy community homespaces into our integrated, cross-functional and cross-business line environment," McQuary said. "In our first year, we established more than 30 operational knowledge communities bringing new awareness and exposure to our vast technical and human resources."
Fluor has the capability to roll out communities on demand to meet immediate business needs. For example, Fluor recently deployed a community that supports SAP deployment using the same Knowledge OnLine infrastructure and deployment process.
With more than 11,000 Knowledge OnLine users, Fluor Corporation cites several specific examples of early success:
- Turn one company's junk into another's treasure. A Fluor client was trying to stretch its 30-year-old control system for another 15-year service. The original parts vendor no longer existed, and getting the system repaired was extremely difficult. The Fluor site manager visited the Control Systems Community Forum and asked for advice. The result came within 24 hours from a contact at another client power station that was replacing the same type of control system with a more modern one. The second client was happy to sell the old equipment and also provided the resume of an engineer who built and maintained the instruments and was available to work. Through this capability, Fluor is seen as a strong facilitator of knowledge and expertise in the industry.
- Leverage corporate knowledge and qualify for multi-million dollar project. A Fluor international office was trying to qualify for a chemical giant's business. The client questioned the office's level of experience with Fieldbus (a method for instrument and control wiring). During a meeting break, an engineer searched Fluor's global knowledge communities for "Fieldbus," found 30 knowledge objects (including a list of Fluor's global experience) and reported the results to the client. The experience - and the ability to find it so quickly - impressed the client, and the office qualified for the multi-million dollar project.
- Solve complex operations problem in Asia Pacific. When the site team on a project in the Asia Pacific region needed critical information to remedy an equipment failure, it received quick help through the Mechanical Engineering Knowledge Community's discussion forum. The issue was highly complex and somewhat urgent because the course of action needed to be aligned with a previously scheduled shutdown of this major power facility. The manager posted specific technical questions in the forum, providing background information and asking whether anyone had experienced similar failures. A materials and welding engineer in another international office responded the next day, citing experience with a similar power plant and proposing solutions. This knowledge provided tremendous help in directing the site team to take appropriate action for the shutdown and for fixing the problem. The knowledge exchange established the two engineers - thousands of miles apart - as expert resources for the community in this highly specialized field. The solution also was relevant to the incentive performance fee associated with this contract.
"Having instant access to the corporation's experiential and technical expertise through Knowledge OnLine, Fluor members provide clients with improved robust designs, increased speed to completion, higher capital effectiveness and technology innovation," McQuary said.
The information in this case study was provided by Cap Gemini Ernst & Young and not by IBM. This case study does not constitute an express or implied recommendation or endorsement by IBM of any particular product, service, company or technology, but is intended simply as an informational service. IBM makes no representations or warranties, express or implied, concerning the content, completeness or accuracy of the profiles or the non-IBM products or services described therein. IBM specifically disclaims all warranties, express or implied, including, but not limited to, the implied warranties of merchantability and fitness for a particular purpose.