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knowledgemanagement1Despite being far from optimized, knowledge management continues to make inroads within strategy firms. Indeed, the stakes – in both commercial and expertise terms – are very real.

A bottle of champagne… is offered, at L.E.K. Consulting, to any employee helping to enrich the firm’s knowledge management. Namely, gathering material that the firm can use to enrich future business proposals or to provide food for thought on a new project. “This is additional work that we ask our teams to take part in, and which has become increasingly complex over the years, notably to respect the confidentiality owed to our customers,” says Fanny Stosskopf, Knowledge Manager with L.E.K.

Within the British firm, the rules in this regard are based on the most restrictive legislation. “All of our offices are required to comply with North American regulations, which are the most restrictive. This means that feeding the knowledge management tool involves spending a lot of time anonymizing information, “cleaning” anything that might permit our clients to be identified, such as direct quotes, or deleting data that are not the firm’s exclusive property,” continues Fanny Stosskopf.

A demanding process that is taking on more and more weight in strategy consultancies. Information sharing and the guidance provided by partners to junior employees are at this point deep-seated reflexes, and now the priority is bringing structure to knowledge management.

In the coming weeks, Chappuis Halder & CO will add a Knowledge Manager to its workforce, one who will work for each and every one of its offices. “As young a company as we are, we are already present in eight countries, and we want to ensure that all of our documents can be shared,” explains Chief Talent Officer Nathalie Rioufreyt. “This new Knowledge Manager position will cover four main roles: organizing and enhancing the value of our acquired knowledge; sharing and informing all of our team members of our innovations and expertise; feeding our marketing teams to help them build the current editorial line; and becoming the principal in-house source for information searching. It may be the case than in three or four years we will have two or three other staff members dedicated to this subject. We need to structure ourselves, because knowledge management is a real issue in regards to both efficiency and collective innovation. Beyond understanding and analyzing the issues facing our clients, the questions of expertise, innovation and methodological support are fundamental to our strategy,” defends Nathalie Rioufreyt.

For her part, Fanny Stosskopf is working on giving the teams ownership of the KM reflex and on training new consultants to seek out information: “Many of them have already understood the value of this approach and noted that it can save them a few hours, or a few days, of work.” For Nathalie Rioufreyt, expertise and knowledge, as well as new approaches thus put to use, can indeed be tremendously useful in not reinventing the wheel for every mission. “However, the idea is not to duplicate ready-made recipes, but to evaluate according to each project’s specific environment whether they can be applied, adapted or not.”

The Knowledge Manager also takes part in the development of customer reference, as reminds Sébastien Salvi, a partner at Courcelles Conseil: “They facilitate the consultants’ work to establish our commercial proposals. Knowledge management is also a way to centralize relevant monitoring.” In this 20-strong firm, a consultant is designated to help the teams identify, at the end of a given project, the information that can be used and capitalized, which is then referenced in a file accessible to all. Sébastien Salvi acts as a coordinator and advisor to help enhance the information’s value.

Nonetheless, the increasing anonymization of data is making the whole endeavor less and less useful, with data proving most valuable to analyze the marketplace at a given T time. All that for that, knowledge management?

Gaëlle Ginibrière for Consultor (09/11/15)

 

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