Case Study: Rolls-Royce
Capturing, Retaining and Sharing Expertise
"Epistemics products and services have played a significant role in the development of processes to capture, retain and share specialist knowledge that is at risk or in short supply. PCPACK supports the efficient and reliable capture, modelling and publication of knowledge vital to our design and engineering processes."
- Colin Cadas, Knowledge Manager, Design Technology Department, Rolls-Royce
Rolls-Royce plc is a world leader in the design and manufacture of jet engines and gas turbine products. The company operates in four global markets - civil aerospace, defence aerospace, marine and energy. It has a broad customer base comprising more than 500 airlines, 4,000 corporate and utility aircraft and helicopter operators, 160 armed forces, and more than 2,000 marine customers, including 50 navies. The company employs over 36,000 people, of which 22,000 are in the UK, 8,500 in North America and 5,500 in Germany and the Nordic countries. Annual sales total nearly £5,800 million, and the order book is over £16,000 million.
In the mid-1990's Rolls-Royce recognised a number of problems associated with the management of knowledge such as (1) experts leaving and retiring, (2) lack of availability of expertise and best practices, and (3) lengthy time required for new recruits to become proficient in complex technical disciplines. To help address these issues, the company embarked on a project (called SPEDE) to develop a structured methodology (called KAMP) to capture, model and publish knowledge. Since vast amounts of knowledge were required to be captured, it was decided that employees with no previous experience of knowledge acquisition and knowledge management would perform the knowledge capture and publishing. The methodology to be used had to be designed so that it would (1) be easy to learn and operate by inexperienced knowledge engineers, (2) be effective at capturing key knowledge and best practices from experts, (3) minimise the time spent with experts, and (4) result in professional-quality intranet sites containing easily accessible knowledge.
Rolls-Royce employed the services and products of Epistemics to assist in certain aspects of the development of KAMP. First, Epistemics consultants had a significant involvement in the development and delivery of an intensive training program that occupies the first 5 days of each KAMP project. Between 1998 and 2001, this course was run over 20 times. Second, Epistemics provided specialised software (PCPACK) to support the KAMP methodology. Third, Epistemics provided consultant coaching and quality assurance on specific projects ensuring that the right knowledge acquisition techniques and modelling methods were being used.
Since 1998 over 150 projects have been run using the KAMP methodology, many of which have been performed by recent graduates or new recruits to a department. According to Rolls-Royce, there are five typical benefits that result from these projects. First, there is accelerated learning of new starters, with a 9-12 months learning period being reduced to 3 months. Second, there is increased availability of expertise, increased efficiency and more efficient use of expert's time. Third, jobs are being carried out with greater levels of experience. Fourth, there is a reduced risk of sudden loss of expertise, particularly in areas where there is a reliance on just one or two experts. Fifth, the company can respond more quickly to emergent work, leading to improved customer satisfaction.
This case study was co-authored by Colin Cadas of Rolls-Royce plc and Nick Milton of Epistemics, and draws upon material prepared by Colin Cadas for presentation at BrainTrust 2004.