Here is how we do it at Central End-User Services, a department of T-Systems which is responsible for Clients, Backend Services such as Mailing, FileServices, Authorisation Directories and Desktop Virtualisation.
When I think about knowledge, mostly I remember the time I spent in school. I remember endless hours learning about people who died long before I was born. Sounds boring, doesn’t it? How about building up knowledge today in a multinational company?
It is a field where lifetime learning is essential. Everybody knows the ever-changing buzzwords; everybody knows that technology circles are short (just think about Moore´s law) and that vendors change the way they handle technology quite often. So building up knowledge and distributing that knowledge is of substantial importance for a company like T-Systems.
Does building up Knowledge always have to be boring? The answer is no.
Knowledge Building at T-Systems
We at T-Systems believe in the strength of our employees and their ability to be enthusiastic about their work and their specific knowledge. So why not make our employees the teachers of new technologies? But how should this be done?
First of all I investigated the environment. T-Systems is a global company; we have people with broad knowledge all over the world. So why not use that knowledge? I soon found out that we had knowledge that was redundant in various countries. Some of the new technologies were repeated in several countries. There is definitely room for improvement here.
I deeply believe that in a modern ITC company, standards are probably the most important assets. Well-documented ITC standards can gain a quicker response to customers and potential customers’ requirements and can avoid engineering the same solution at many locations. This insight together with the vision “We are committed to international engineering and production” are the key drivers for building the Global Delivery Unit CES (Central End-User Services) Engineering Labs.
So what is the purpose of these Engineering Labs, how can they help build up knowledge?
Engineering Labs at T-Systems
Here is our formal answer to that question: A GDU CES Engineering Lab is an international unit, fully integrated into and governed by the GDU CES responsible for one of the leading technologies of the GDU CES portfolio. The GDU CES Engineering Lab has the corporate responsibility to develop and maintain customer independent solutions to support and enable technical pre-sales and T-Systems products.
Quite a long answer… But we are a German company – we want to be precise in what we say and do.
For identification organizations use logos – here is ours:
Later on we changed it to a more fancy one:
First of all we defined the deliverables of a GDU CES Engineering Lab in detail:
- Portfolio element engineering and manufacturing engineering
- Cost-model for the solution featuring right-shore part for production
- Service description (incl. SLA) and service delivery model
- Pre-sales processes and showroom for remote demonstration
- 3rd-level support processes and access to vendors
- Ordering processes and integration in tools
- Knowledge transfer to international Service Desk
For the documentation, a discussion forum and a Wiki, we established a Microsoft SharePoint containing information from a technical point of view but also Presales Material. We made sure that this portal can be accessed from subsidiaries all over the world in an easy way.
How we built the Engineering Labs
The process of establishing a new GDU CES Engineering Lab is to visit the potential LBUs and to ask the managers about GDU CES skills. This information will be compiled and visualized to the GDU CES skill-landscape (which is part of the portal also). A steering committee then decides the engineering lab locations for specific technologies.
The global skill matrix, which is online on the portal, shows resources with GDU CES skills in LBUs (Legal Business Unites in various countries), grouped by skill-areas and by LBUs. Using filters, one can quickly find the right resources in the right LBUs and then contact the CES Manager of the LBU. This is done via the responsible GDU CES Engagement Manager to find out whether resources are available for e.g. international projects.
Process of building-up the Engineering Labs
One of my core beliefs is that changes in organizations need to be implemented using project management methodologies. The implementation of the GDU CES Engineering Labs is done using Deutsche Telekom’s Project Management Standard “PM Excellence”. In the project, there is an owner, a steering committee, a budget, a team, a sounding board and escalation methods. The execution of the project is done in three main phases: standardizing the solution, creating the framework and handing over to FMO (Future Mode of Operations).
Benefit of the Engineering Labs
During our build-up of the Engineering Labs we found out that Sales—and more often PreSales— profoundly benefited from the practical knowledge they have gained in their daily work. Also very helpful are the standardized showrooms that we established to present our solutions to the customers. The value for technical presales is that if an IT-architect needs a specific solution from the lab, s/he can contact the lab directly (as there is only one contact person) and use a standardized solution. Through this bi-lateral approach, time and costs will be saved and it will help to build a truly global organization.