To meet its growth goals, Aker Solutions needs to hire 13,000 employees in four years—a daunting task. To quickly assimilate this many people while ensuring high quality and productivity, Aker Solutions built a companywide knowledge-sharing platform
based on Microsoft SharePoint Server 2013. With this platform, which features many social media elements, Aker Solutions is on track to meet its growth and revenue goals while boosting productivity, making quality decisions, and improving customer service.
Aker Solutions helps oil and gas companies worldwide develop fields, run drilling operations, and optimize production. The company is headquartered in Fornebu, Norway, employs 28,000 people in more than 30 countries, and posted revenues of approximately
NOK44 billion (US$7.7 billion) in 2012.
||With Knowledge Arena and SharePoint 2013, we can make sure that employees in all locations have access to the same expertise.
| Joar Handeland
Chief Information Officer, Aker Solutions
Aker Solutions has been very successful in a booming market, and in December 2010, management set a goal to double revenues by 2015. To meet this goal, Aker Solutions would need to hire 13,000 employees in four years while reducing costs related to poor quality.
The company has a hard-won reputation for having the best talent in the industry and wanted to maintain this reputation in the face of rapid growth. One poor decision could cost the company millions of dollars in rework or—worse—a customer relationship.
Aker Solutions also wanted to strengthen its customer focus by providing a more unified face to customers and maximizing opportunities to sell additional services. Aker Solutions is a large, global company with many divisions. Various regional and project
teams had created information-sharing team sites using Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007, but there was no companywide knowledge portal or easy way to locate experts and accurate information. This resulted in missed opportunities to deliver exceptional
service to customers, solve problems quickly, and sell additional services.
The company knew that to meet its growth goals, it needed a powerful knowledge management platform. Aker Solutions’ vision was to have all company knowledge available to all employees; wherever they needed it, whenever they needed it, in the way they needed
Aker Solutions already used SharePoint Server 2007 for team sites and enterprise search, so although it did evaluate other technologies, it looked first to Microsoft for help. “We didn’t want to introduce new technologies if we didn’t have to, and we
wanted our knowledge platform to fit well with the rest of our IT portfolio,” says Karstein Lien, Knowledge Manager for Aker Solutions. “We wanted a solution that we could use with minimal customization. Microsoft SharePoint Server 2013 had all the capabilities
Chief Information Officer,
Aker Solutions needed to get its knowledge platform, called Knowledge Arena, running as quickly as possible, so it sought outside help. The company brought in Avanade, a member of the Microsoft Partner Network, to serve as system integrator and project manager.
Comperio, another Microsoft Partner Network member, provided Enterprise Search expertise. SharePointPeople served as lead architect for the project and provided program management and governance structure. The SharePoint 2013-based Knowledge Arena runs on
the Windows Server 2012 operating system and uses Microsoft SQL Server 2012 database software.
A key element of Knowledge Arena is personal profiles, employee pages that contain summaries of the employee’s current responsibilities, areas of expertise, past experience, blog posts, key documents, newsfeeds, and more. Aker Solutions launched Knowledge
Arena in February 2013 and 500 employees created profiles in the first week. Within four months, 15,269 employees, or 56.4 percent of the total workforce, had completed profiles.
Another key SharePoint 2013 feature of Knowledge Arena is community sites—online gatherings of employees that are focused around topics of strategic interest or business-related matters such as mechanical engineering or life cycle services. Employees worldwide
join these communities to share ideas, ask questions, and have discussions.
Knowledge Arena serves as the company’s central knowledge repository and is equipped with a powerful search engine (part of SharePoint 2013) that employees can use to search regional and project team sites, file shares, personal profiles, communities, and document
management systems. The goal is to add all digital resources to the search engine. “If employees need expertise on concrete used in North Sea drilling rigs or research on high-stress bolts, they can find it quickly, no matter where it’s located or what form
it’s in,” says Joar Handeland, Chief Information Officer at Aker Solutions.
Aker Solutions plans to continue integrating other content sources into Knowledge Arena and will use SharePoint 2013 as a foundation for creating other new types of applications. First in line is the development of a contract management system.
With a powerful knowledge-sharing platform in place, Aker Solutions is hiring and assimilating thousands of employees while making them productive quickly and ensuring that quality remains high. The company is confident that it can meet its growth goals
while improving productivity and customer service.
Support Rapid Business Growth
Aker Solutions’ deep expertise across the entire life cycle of an oil or gas field has helped the company establish its competitive advantage. With Knowledge Arena, employees companywide can further that advantage by easily accessing and sharing this
information. “We are seeing growth all over the world and it’s difficult to transfer knowledge to all these locations, especially remote locations,” says Handeland. “With Knowledge Arena and SharePoint 2013, we can make sure that employees in all locations
have access to the same expertise.”
Global knowledge sharing is also increasing productivity, because employees can reuse work already completed by their colleagues and reduce time to find answers. For example, a team in one business unit was having trouble implementing a new measurement
technique. It went to one of the Knowledge Arena communities and started a discussion about the best way to perform these measurements. An employee in a different business unit was an expert in this measurement technique and provided immediate help. “We would
have had to spend significantly more time to locate this expertise without Knowledge Arena,” Handeland says. In another case, a team saved two days of work in creating a market analysis by posting a question in a community and discovering that another team
had already created the same analysis. Examples like this save Aker Solutions significant time and money.
Improve Decision Quality
The ability to easily search for information and expertise also supports high-quality decisions. “The cost of fixing poor decisions is extremely high in our business,” Handeland says. “Employees can use Knowledge Arena to research more thoroughly and
involve experts from across the company before making a decision. This has the potential to save us millions of dollars.”
Soon, Aker Solutions will begin to measure quality improvements introduced by Knowledge Arena by making correlations between active community members and reduced quality costs. Important target numbers for Knowledge Arena are the number of participants and
activities in the communities, such as the number of answered questions and best practices developed. The number of discussions, share of employees with completed profiles, total number of communities, and share of Aker Solutions data in the search index are
also important measurements. If the key numbers for Knowledge Arena meet the targets, the company can attribute a sustainable improvement in cost of quality in part to Knowledge Arena. “These are the kinds of correlations that we’ll be looking for and are
already seeing,” Handeland says.
Enhance Customer Service
More effective knowledge sharing is also contributing to better customer service. Aker Solutions can gather and share best practices from all regions and continuously improve the consistency and quality of all its projects. “With Knowledge Arena, we
can deliver the same excellent level of service to all customers and demonstrate to them that we’re learning and remembering from project to project, no matter the location,” Lien says. “We want our customers to feel more confident giving us more business.”
|A key feature of Knowledge Arena is personal profiles, employee pages that contain summaries of the employee’s current responsibilities, areas of expertise, past experience, blog posts, key documents, newsfeeds, and more.
|Knowledge Arena communities are online gatherings of Aker Solutions employees that are focused around topics of strategic interest to the business.
SharePoint is the new way to work together. A simplified user experience helps you organize, sync, and share all your content. New social capabilities make it easy to share ideas, keep track of what your colleagues are working on, and discover experts you never
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