Event Report - Knowledge Management - a guided core competency

Carlos Martinez Arteaga 100x100

Author: Carlos Martinez - PMP


Event Report “Knowledge Management- a core competency”

On Thursday 28th of September, PMI Switzerland brought to Basel, a great event, presented by Etzard Stolte from Roche. Etzard joined Roche a little over 2 years ago and is Global Head Knowledge Management at Roche Pharma Technical Development. I must say that Etzard was a great speaker and gave a good understanding on the Roche journey to deal with all the knowledge been generated by its workers.

There was a reflection made regarding the investment made by Pharma companies in R&D which needs to be mentioned, and that is that this investment can also be considered as an investment in knowledge, which needs to be correctly used and transmitted.

The amount of information generated today by any type of organization is quite considerable, without taking into consideration if it is all worth sharing or not, to handle this Roche invested in creating its own set of tools for storing and also to later make it available within the organization.

What to do to make the most of all this knowledge?

Well, through Knowledge Management and by increasing the communication and collaboration within the organization it can be possible to make a systematic exchange of knowledge. Afterwards, Knowledge Management should embed the processes in the organization by connecting people with people and then to the content. Finally there has to be systems, which will help to retain and grow the organizational knowledge.

Explained here this may seem simple, but it is not, for this Etzard presented what he and his team have been working for the last couple of years, and showed some of the initiatives, such as a single document management process across the organization, that is enabled by traditional semantic tools as well as state of the art AI tools.

According to Etzard, there are 2 types of knowledge within and organization:

·         Structure documents: SharePoint, Document Sharing

·         Un-structured documents: fileshares, g-drive

Then these can either be numerical or text data.

A Single Integration Platform was developed, with semantics and focus on quality of the data, also a search engine was developed within the organization (SmartSearch), as it was identified that if the common search engines where to be used then the data would also be available outside of the organization, as everything these engines search for is also read by these, and therefore is then available outside the organization.

Also there were other tools developed to support the knowledge sharing these were to cover the areas of: 

  • Communication and Collaboration
  • Processes

  • Systems

 The path is not easy, and this at Roche is still on the way on its final 3rd, this can be broken into 3 major yearly steps.

 1st. Develop the processes and integrate them within the closest organization

 2nd. Migration of the all the organizational knowledge to the developed Platform following the processes

 3rd. Complete organizational integration.

 Roche solved the problem regarding how the information should be stored by creating a standard folder structure for each product they own. This came as a result of gathering all folder structures from the different departments and scrutinizing which folders were required and which not and at the same time if these were relevant to all departments. The task was not easy, as each department had its very own folder structure, but was totally necessary in order a storing process could be developed, that could serve the complete organization. Later, another greater effort was needed, which was to implement the standard folder structure and to ensure that this was followed.

 When users are storing their files, for them it seems that all folders are available in the same place, so called EasyDrive, but this is not the case, given restrictions with access rights and confidentiality levels.

 In the background folders are held in different systems, also to facilitate the operation of all other tools that Roche has created to facilitate Knowledge sharing and search (e.g. TubeMaps, for document finding)

 Finally if a user cannot find a document, Roche created a tool called UberMinds, which helps users get in contact with experts. This is possible by

 So far, as Etzard explained, the work has given very good results, with a great percentage of the organization making use of the tools that he and his team have developed.

 The access to the data was done based on the HR database, which structured the levels of confidentiality each user could access to, for this a re-structuring of the organizations levels was required.

Take away:

  • Data needs to be owned, it requires internal systems for this.
  • Facilitate knowledge so that this can be re-used

  • Centralize Information/Knowledge, for this if there are existing systems, keep them, but change the processes

  • Access to date should be fair and easy

  • For a better cross-cultural implementation of a process, hire as many people from as many different cultural backgrounds for this, as this will ease internally the process implementation.


Attached is the presentation. Part 1  Part 2