You are on page 1of 10

How Xerox got its engineers to use a knowledge management system

1
Introduction of the Knowledge management
There are several different, and sometimes quite confusing statements that claim to be a
definition of Knowledge Management' and there are different perspectives on what Knowledge
Management is. For example:
-

KM is about systems and technologies


KM is about people and learning organizations
KM is about processes, methods and techniques
KM is about managing knowledge assets
KM is a holistic initiative across the entire organization
KM is not a discipline, as such, and should be an integral part of every knowledge
workers daily responsibilities

In normally, it can be defined as the discipline of enabling individuals, teams and entire
organizations to collectively and systematically create, share and apply knowledge, to better
achieve their objectives
Profile of the organization
Xerox Corporation Ltd. is an American multinational document management corporation
that produces and sells a range of color and black-and-white printers, multifunction systems,
photocopiers, digital production printing presses, and related consulting services and supplies.
Xerox is headquartered in Norwalk, Connecticut (moved from Stamford, Connecticut in October
2007), though its largest population of employees is based around Rochester, New York, the area
in which the company was founded. On September 28, 2009, Xerox announced the intended
acquisition of Affiliated Computer Services for $6.4 billion. The deal closed on February 8,

How Xerox got its engineers to use a knowledge management system


2
2010. As a large developed company, it is consistently placed in the list of Fortune 500
companies.
Core Issues:
Xerox is a documents based company. It provides services to its customers after it sell its
products. The problem with the provision of services to its customers before the use of
knowledge management strategy was that it takes lot of time for Xerox workers to understand
the problem and fix it. Then if another customers has the same problem, may be any other part of
the world, they have to start from the scratch. So its all waste of time and resources.
Another problem that Xerox faced internally was the flow of information around. People
use emails to contact with each others. It took lot of time to get the things sorted and reach a
solution. Also the storage of that record was another problem.
Case Analysis of Xerox
Here, Xerox found a way to cut costs and share institutional knowledge with a knowledge
management system that gives engineers credit for their contributions. Find out how Xerox
moved KM from theory to reality. In todays business climate, capturing staff knowledge and
managing that data is more critical than ever as IT leaders grapple with downsizing, hiring
freezes, and manpower fluctuations. All these changes allow expertise to take flight as staffers
leave for more stable ground or get pink-slipped. The trick to stemming such a knowledge drain
is instilling a knowledge management (KM) system before the drain drip becomes a gushing data
loss.
Thats what Xerox Corp. did when it realized invaluable on-site solutions created by

How Xerox got its engineers to use a knowledge management system


3
engineers in its 24,000-member customer service unit couldnt be efficiently shared among the
engineers and the support staff. The document solution company based in Stamford, CT, which
reported $19 billion in revenue last year, was investigating ways to improve customer service
and discovered that service engineers sometimes faced equipment problems that could not be
solved through the usual support channels. "The answers to these scenarios werent found in the
training books or documentation or even vendor updates. But our engineers are extremely
creative and their job is to solve these problems, so they work through it, explained Dan
Holtshouse, Xeroxs director of corporate strategies. And while theyre willing to share their
newly created solutions, the audience was limited to the half-dozen people in their home office."
That knowledge stopgap prompted Xerox to investigate the most logical way for engineers to
share with the entire service community.
Eureka! A KM system that employees use
Following an in-depth study of workday behavior, Xerox designed Eureka, a KM
application that leverages Xeroxs Web-based DocuShare tool using an Oracle database. By
logging in to Eureka, engineers can now easily document newly created solutions using various
templates via their office laptops. However, just because engineers now had a way to input and
store new knowledge, it didnt mean staffers were jumping up and down to participate,
Holtshouse said. "The big challenge [in KM] was the work practice and the motivation elements.
We designed the application around the SE [service engineer] community, incorporating a
browser interface since we knew engineers browsed the Web quite a bit. But we still couldnt
figure out how to get engineers to take the time to input the data," he recalled. The response by
Xerox engineers isnt unique. According to an April 2000 report by the University of Southern

How Xerox got its engineers to use a knowledge management system


4
California's Center for Organizational Effectiveness and the executive-search firm Korn/Ferry
International, 64 percent of knowledge workers say they are vastly under using organizational
knowledge and the electronic tools created to help them share it.
One reason the Xerox staff was reluctant to use the KM system was that participation
would be an added duty to an already tightly controlled workdayessentially, staff would need
to share" in the little downtime available to them. Xerox tried a number of incentives to book
employee interest and learned that professional credit was the key. With a quick app revamp,
Eureka provided engineers an ability to "author their solutions. "Once we enabled them to
attach their name, it became a professional peer process. Theyre proud of their solutions and are
recognized for it," Holtshouse explained.
Xerox saw a 10 percent reduction in labor and cost improvement just within the initial
Eureka rollout in France. That returns on investment jumped tremendously as the company
opened the application to its Canadian, European, and South American engineers. Today, Eureka
is a global effort supporting six different languages with high staff participation. Xerox has
92,500 employees worldwide, with 50,000 in the United States. "Weve accumulated over
50,000 solutions in just a few years, with 70 to 80 percent participation of engineers inputting an
average of once a week," Holtshouse said. With Eureka, an on-site solution is captured and
available for use by everyone, thus avoiding another engineer, in a different location, from
having to reinvent the same solution. Xerox estimates that Eureka has prevented at least 300,000
redundant solutions.
In addition to making their employees more efficient, the system is clearly saving Xerox
money. Take the equipment problem a Brazilian engineer still couldnt solve, despite using

How Xerox got its engineers to use a knowledge management system


5
Eureka, equipment manuals, and the available help. It seemed the only option was to replace the
customers color copy machinea $40,000 cost. But before the engineer submitted the
equipment order, he decided to check Eureka one more time. A Canadian colleague had entered
the solution to his problem into Eureka a few hours earlier, so the potential $40,000 copier
replacement became a 90-cent part replacement. While Xeroxs KM effort wasnt prompted by
the economic slowdown that is now hitting many corporate IT shops, Holtshouse said knowledge
capture is vital no matter what the business climate. "When the economy was booming, there
were all kinds of competition for skilled workers, and they were jumping the fence and that
knowledge was leaving. Now with downsizing, you have the same problem [knowledge loss] but
for different reasons. While you may be lying off [workers], it doesnt mean you dont need what
they knowyou just cant afford them. You still need a way to capture the expertise and retain
it," he explains.
Designing a system to match the culture
Xerox has been recognized for its "world-class efforts in managing knowledge" by
Teleos, an independent knowledge management research organization, and The KNOW
Network, a Web-based community that shares best practices for knowledge management. Xerox
has ranked among the top 10 Most Admired Knowledge Enterprises (MAKE) since the award
was created in 1998. In addition, the American Productivity & Quality Center (APQC) selected
Xeroxs corporate engineering center as one of five benchmark organizations for "building and
sustaining communities of practice" last December. "Communities of practice are fast becoming
the most effective way to connect people who need knowledge with those who have it. They
cultivate new and innovative ideas to guide important business decisions," said Carla O'Dell,

How Xerox got its engineers to use a knowledge management system


6
APQC president.
Holtshouse believes successful KM is tied to understanding a communitys work culture
and that one solution doesnt fit every communitys needs. Technology takes second place as a
tool to enhance a KM process, he added. Experts say implementing KM first as a small, shortterm pilot projectsuch as Xerox did in Francefosters collaboration across disciplines,
exposes organizational weaknesses, and gives management immediate and measurable results
before long-term plans are made. "Each community works differently and has different
motivations. Weve been taking a community at a time and building knowledge sharing solutions
for each. Management is a blend of technology and process change through culture change,"
Holtshouse said.
Aspect of knowledge management in the Xerox Corporation (Referring to the above statements)
As we know that, Xerox has a big community of experts on which it builds its network. A
forum was established on which experts from different locations share their expertise and
knowledge. It receives million calls per month for either prevention. There is a huge amount of
knowledge being used and this is a continuous process. It develop a processes supported by
software but to achieve a success, it need its culture to be social. Thats what Xerox achieved. Its
engineers and scientists share their knowledge and expertise.
Here from the above analysis, Eureka allows Xerox's support organization to create and
reuse intellectual capital on a wide scale throughout the world and for a bonus, significantly
improve service to customers and enhance the financial performance of the business. The system
builds on the service technician's work practices by creating a knowledge-sharing environment
that improves customer service.

How Xerox got its engineers to use a knowledge management system


7
-

What Makes Eureka Work?

Under this, When techs find a solution that isn't in the service manuals, they enter it on their
laptop's Eureka system. Templates simplify the entry process, but service technicians can also
convey a tremendous amount of information in the shorthand unique to their profession and their
community. Tips tend to be short, so they don't take time to input. The next time a submitter
connects to the network; their tip is uploaded to the network at the same time other new tips are
downloaded to the laptop.
All tips are validated. But rather than deferring to design engineers, technicians' contributions
are vetted by their peers-hotline and senior field technicians who are recognized as experts for
those particular products. Tips are validated locally, in case something like altitude is a factor.
Valuators are supposed to notify authors within 14 days that they are working on the tip; some
tips take longer to completely test than others. After being validated, a tip is viewed by everyone
who subscribes to products for which the tips are applicable
Xerox recognized that the work environment (e.g. work practices, incentives) is critical to the
success of knowledge management and is much more difficult than implementing the technical
solution. That alone is noteworthy. But Xerox also took the essential step of implementing such a
large-scale system for a mission-critical business process. As evidence of Eureka's measurable
effect, in France, where Eureka was initially field-tested, of the 1,300 service engineers, more
than 250 service technicians have authored tips. Xerox France has lowered its parts usage and
labor costs by more than 5%.

How Xerox got its engineers to use a knowledge management system


8
Based on the success of Eureka in France, Xerox has now deployed it to more than 14,000
users in Canada, France, the United States, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Germany,
Brazil, Argentina, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland and Mexico. Users can submit tips in
their native language, and, if validated, they go into the system in English. The system will soon
have a translation tool to help users with difficult or unusual phrases.
Today, Xerox is expanding the system to all customer support centers and field analysts. It is
also bringing the insights in a meaningful way to the groups that produce documentation,
manufacture products and make engineering and design improvements. For some products,
people are mining the databases to rewrite documentation and they are beginning to engage
manufacturing.
From the different articles we found out that, At Xerox Corporation, knowledge management
is 90 percent social process and 10 percent infrastructure, for instance. Knowledge management
leverages and reuses the organizations existing resources to help people seek out best practices,
not reinvent the wheel.
Recommendation
-

Difficulties with the new Knowledge System:

Initially, employees within the company were not ready and willing to accept the new
knowledge system. They felt they didn't have enough time in their strict workday scheduling. As
an incentive to get engineers to use the system, Xerox allowed their employees to attach their
name to a solution, thus giving them full credit for their contributions.
-

What lessons did Xerox learn from developing a knowledge system?

How Xerox got its engineers to use a knowledge management system


9

You have to get employees to use the knowledge management system and emphasize

how much more efficient it can be in day-to-day operations.


Knowledge Management Systems are only as effective as the managers that support

them.
Workers must be informed how to use the system the right way.
Goals and objectives must be set for the creation and use of the knowledge system. These
goals must be conveyed to the knowledge workers. The company must put these driving
forces into terms the employees can understand.

Xerox should use one centralized software to manage its knowledge. As IT is very advanced,
they should include more videos of the solutions. Also, they should develop a benchmark to
manage knowledge into their data base. Raw information should be converted into useful
knowledge to avoid ambiguity. For that they should have panel of experts who studies that data
and if they is according to benchmark, it should be included into database.
By using a centralized software Xerox workers from inside and outside organization can
access the solutions as well as they can formally contact with their peers and management. Also
that knowledge can be used to train new staff and they can learn easily how to communicate
effectively. More videos can help training new staff as this shows the solution in a better way.

How Xerox got its engineers to use a knowledge management system


10
References:
http://www.techrepublic.com/article/how-xerox-got-its-engineers-to-use-a-knowledgemanagement-system/
http://brankms.blogspot.com/2010/09/xerox-eureka.html
http://www.palgrave-journals.com/kmrp/journal/v5/n1/full/8500128a.html
http://www.knowledge-management-tools.net/different-types-of-knowledge.html
http://www.computerweekly.com/feature/Xerox-pools-knowledge-for-success
http://calebmccrary.blogspot.com/2010/09/how-xerox-got-its-engineers-to-use.html