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Tata International launches a knowledge management framework with learnings from Tata Chemicals, Tata Power-DDL and Tata Steel

Published on November 23, 2021

Tata International (TIL) has more than 6,000 employees across 29 countries and over 60 locations. With employees across different cultures, a hybrid working model, multi-functional and multi-businesses, it is challenging to identify and meet knowledge needs of all employees.

To assist TIL in its improvement initiatives, TBExG, in April-May 2021, facilitated best practice sharing sessions with three Tata companies. In these sessions, Milind Gajjar from Tata Chemicals, Kunal Pareek from Tata Power-DDL and SC Mishra from Tata Steel shared their respective practices on Knowledge Management with TIL. These best practices sessions helped TIL redefine its objectives, understand unique organisational needs and identify ways to leverage resources for the sharing and consumption of knowledge residing in multiple pockets across the organisation. Thereafter, with combined inputs from business excellence, corporate communications, IT and internal SMEs, arK - TIL’s Knowledge Management System was envisioned as a tool to promote learning culture in the organisation.

ark is a virtual meeting place, an interactive technology-enabled platform where knowledge from across the global organisation can be shared seamlessly. It is envisaged to be a virtual library where knowledge from all internal and external sources will be shared, consumed, and upgraded by, to and for the colleagues across the organisation.

arK went live in Oct 2021 and incorporates the following learnings from the three Tata companies:

Knowledge communities:

  • Groups with common or shared organisational interest and learning curiosity
  • Participates in knowledge sessions, discussions and other KM activities
  • Identifies gaps and idea incubation to bring ideas into reality

Knowledge communities are built on the below four pillars:

Vertical/business heads to act as Knowledge Mentors:

  • Nominates Knowledge Champions/Moderator 
  • Is responsible for knowledge sources put forth from the business/vertical
  • Proactively invites other groups/business/verticals/organisations in community sessions
  • Motivates and engages the communities

Knowledge Champion/Moderator:

  • Approves knowledge discussion, sessions, documents in knowledge communities
  • Identifies important topics and communicates dates
  • Organises and coordinates community meetings, interactions and activities

Subject Matter Expert/Knowledge Sharer:

  • Shares knowledge and experiences
  • Helps in finding solutions to problems
  • Identifies opportunities for improvements and promotes improvements
  • Contributes to the culture of knowledge sharing by giving insights into the subject matter

Knowledge Community Members:

  • Actively participates and contributes to knowledge activities
  • Reading and adding value to the knowledge activities 
  • Being proactive learners and shares suggestions

Other key features which have been incorporated are:

  • Advanced word search:
  • Word search feature to find document across knowledge library
  • Keywords are linked with word search
  • A solid overarching suggestion scheme:
  • Encouraging contribution and participation-wise R&R for employees
  • Rewarding suggestions that solve problems or identify and meet knowledge needs
  • Moved to accelerated learning systems:
  • Outside knowledge is brought to improve business 
  • Certain processes and systems are built based on insights from industry experts
  • Knowledge Champions arrange resources:
  • Knowledge volunteers do work apart from their regular work encouraged through R&R
  • Only one or two full timers to handle KM
  • Leveraging technology:
  • Built on SharePoint, links various knowledge pieces which were kept across the organisation
  • This is an inhouse platform
  • Annual R&R to motivate and drive employee participation:
  • Points are rewarded for each participative action of the Knowledge Community members
  • Points defined through an approved sheet for each action on the portal
  • Comprehensive knowledge:
  • All legacy systems linked through enterprise document search
  • Tata Group portals like Tata World, Tata Edge, Tata Innovista, Tata Engage are embedded in quick links and side panel along with organisation e-learning platform and corporate governance
  • True to its purpose:
  • Caution against making KM portal a data dump repository
  • Quality is maintained through Knowledge Champions, Moderators & Subject Matter Experts
  • Focus towards organisational learning rather than knowledge gathering

This platform is now being leveraged for generic knowledge sharing like accessing Tata Group knowledge and reading articles based on individual interest. Directed programmes like theme-based suggestion schemes will help in solving operational bottlenecks, ask the expert feature will assist in sharing internal expertise for specific issues/problems. As a next level of improvement, TIL is working to create a repository of closed continuous improvement projects and best practices implemented across the organisation and track cross business/function adoption of applicable practices. External experts across groups and industries will be linked through this platform for webinars or problem specific discussions.

Participant Speak

The journey of revamping our knowledge management framework has been enriched by open sharing from group companies and active collaboration from TBExG. I would say that these sessions have played a role in three major areas i.e redefining objectives, understanding technology-led solutions and some interesting features. arK will become our vehicle for free flow of knowledge to solve daily issues, operational problems and help in building strategic interventions.

Rajan Somvanshi, Head - Business Excellence (Distribution), Tata International

Tata International had embarked on its journey to develop a Knowledge Management System for a global employee base. The TBExG Best Practices Programme gave us an opportunity to study and emulate relevant good practices of benchmark companies within the Tata Group.

The sessions organised by TBExG with three Tata group companies helped us fine-tune our specifications and implementation processes for arK, our Knowledge Management System that will provide another platform for collaborative learning in the organisation.

Anand Sen, MD, Tata International