Knowledge Management – a vital aspect of the OPTANO corporate culture

 

“Knowledge is a rare thing – you gain something by giving it away” – Ivan Sutherland

Knowledge Management is all about capturing, sharing and managing knowledge gained by individual employees or project teams. This leads to an increase in the overall knowledge of a company’s workforce. It ensures continuous improvement within a company in order to increase productivity and efficiency. This, of course, also leads to increased worker satisfaction. The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020 has resulted in a large majority of employees now working from home. For this reason it is more important than ever to ensure that knowledge continues to be distributed between project teams and employees at all levels.

Knowledge Management has always been firmly entrenched in OPTANO’s corporate culture. Employees are encouraged to openly express their opinions and share their ideas and insights with one another.

OPTANO deploys three principle methods in order to share and manage knowledge effectively:

1. OPTANO Wiki

This is a valuable – and popular – source of information which all employees have come to appreciate whenever they need information. From how to use a specific program to who to contact when the coffee has run out, Wiki is normally the first place team members like to look. It is particularly useful for new employees who have a question and those who could normally help are unavailable. All you need to do is enter a key word in the search tool and you will usually find a page containing whatever you need to know. Wiki is special in that the information it provides comes from the colleagues themselves. They have chosen to document their knowledge and experience so that others can learn and benefit from it. It’s a real give and take. All team members can create their own page on any subject they consider as being “good to know” – and every contribution is welcome. You can also update information on a page, even if you hadn’t initially created it yourself. Wiki is accessible to  the entire OPTANO Team which makes active use of it.

2. Team meetings

All employees are invited to attend the monthly team meetings. Here, management and every department, from Development to HR, has the opportunity to brief everybody else on what they are doing and report on any relevant changes to workflows or projects. Important announcements are made here, new colleagues are officially welcomed. Occasionally, a short – or occasionally longer – “brownbag” will be presented by somebody towards the end. These are brief presentations on new releases, tools or features, solutions that have been found to facilitate specific processes, etc.
The monthly team meetings have always been an important part of OPTANO’s culture and are highly valued by employees and management alike- even more so at the moment where working from home means that you don’t get to see all your colleagues on a regular basis at lunchtime or when you bump into them in the corridor or at the coffee machine.

3. Kaizen workshops

Whereas the monthly team meetings are for all OPTANO employees together, Kaizen workshops at OPTANO enable the internal exchange of knowledge within certain specialist teams and have the common objective of continuously improving OPTANO’s workflows and development processes.  Brownbag sessions on specialized projects are held, workflows and processes are critically analyzed and suggestions for their improvement are put forward, new ideas are discussed, and so on. Each Kaizen workshop takes place once a month and they have become a fixed establishment at OPTANO.

OPTANO’s first Kaizen workshop  – the Developer Kaizen, was established in August 2017. Here, software developers share information and ideas to make software development processes better. Best-practice tips or “lessons learned” are presented by a different member each month on core subjects such as UX, software security and code quality.

The word “Kaizen” is from the Japanese “kai” (change) and “zen” (good). Hence the meaning: change is good.

The BA (Business Analyst) Kaizen  was established soon after. This is smaller than the Developer Kaizen but nevertheless just as effective. Its members share knowledge and information that are relevant to the business analysts and project managers, for example, acquisitions or how to write a good user story.

The Analytics Kaizen is still in its fledgling stage and is open to the OR and optimization experts who can hugely benefit from the experience their colleagues have acquired in their respective projects. Its first trial session was deemed a success with productive discussion and interesting brownbags.

Conclusion

When communication fails between different project teams or managerial levels, this can have serious consequences for a company. Not just in financial terms; it can also have a negative impact on company morale. Productive interaction among colleagues leads to better collaboration and more trust between teams. Such interaction, where knowledge is not confined to just a privileged few but is available to everybody, is a natural part of working at OPTANO.

Do you like the way we share our knowledge?

If you’re an out-of-the-box thinker with initiative and drive, then we would love to hear from you! Why not take a look at our current vacancies and see if there is something there for you?

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