Saturday, 14 March 2009

Quantified Knowledge Management success stories - number one in a series

Recently I have seen several posts in Linked-In asking for quantified success stories for Knowledge Management. People want to know, where does the value lie, and how much value can it deliver? Now we have been involved in so many success stories over the years, and some of them are pretty well quantified. I thought I might publish a series of these, as a resource for our readers. So here's number one. (To see the rest, click on the label "success story")

One of the big projects we were involved with back in BP days covered the topic of turnarounds in BP refineries. These are major refurbishment projects undertaken every four or five years at each refinery, where the refinery is shut down for maintenance. Each turnaround can require budgets of tens of millions of dollars and up to a thousand people can be working at the plant for several weeks on the project. Because turnarounds have a significant impact on the profitability of the plant, they need to be done quickly, cheaply, safely and effectively. A community of practice covering turnarounds was already in existence (the Turnarounds Improvements Network), and they had already set themselves tough performance goals, aimed at putting all of BP's refineries in the top quartile of oil industry performers. What we needed to do was arm these people with the tools, techniques and technologies of Knowledge Management.

We first introduced a structured set of Peer Assists for each turnaround. The first Peer Assist was a strategy review 16 months ahead of site work. The last Peer Assist was two months ahead of the site work to assess if the site was prepared. Then we used Retrospects and in-depth interviews to capture lessons learned after the turnarounds were over and we also developed an online knowledge asset to capture and make visible the global knowledge of the network. We also introduced After Action Reviews to learn day by day as the turnaround progressed. These had maximum impact at the Toledo refinery, where they were used on a daily basis by the shift teams. The KM tools and techniques were used at refineries in the Netherlands, Australia, Singapore and the USA.

Record-breaking results were achieved at Kwinana and Nerefco, and the other refineries showed improvements attributable to Knowledge Management. The benefits delivered at Nerefco were valued by the refinery manager at $9.6 million, based on the lower costs, faster delivery and more robust solution than the previous turnaround.

Photo by Flickr Creative Commons, uploaded by Roby72

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