Time to collect knowledge

Time to collect knowledge

Yekaterina Larina
Project Manager, Department of Technical Development, USC

The world trend of turning knowledge into assets and USC’s desire to better utilize our intellectual capital in boosting competitive advantages paved the way for establishing a knowledge management system in USC

We consider knowledge as an asset, allowing humans or organizations to take right decisions, be responsive and act effectively in certain conditions.

Why managing knowledge

It would be false to say that USC did not do it before. We did stockpile hard and soft copies of documents, train personnel and young specialists, practice mentoring and apprenticeship, inspire innovative mindset, take part in industry conferences, bring together experts for research and technical councils. But these classic approaches fell short of the desired goal, particularly given the fact that not all facilities of the corporation were consistent in the employment of this array of measures and approaches.

Last year an effort was mounted to study the current state of knowledge management in USC, accumulating requirements and expectation of managers and employees from the performance of the future system and analyzing best practices in Russia and abroad. This resulted in USC adopting this spring a knowledge management concept and roadmap for its implementation.

The system that we are creating will let the corporation address problems of accessing the knowledge base, cutting redundancy in development, repeating errors, or loosing critical knowledge or competences for that matter. It would be in order to note that the platform will be of a general nature, encompassing the entire corporation and combining the employees of all facilities, which broadens the scope in terms of the number of fields that we will be able to cover. On the downside are limitations, deriving from commercial interests of individual companies.

How does it work?

Our knowledge management system comes in the form of new processes and procedures to be integrated into the routine of all our employees. These include convenient and modern IT-tools, as well as measures, aimed at shifting the corporate culture towards informational transparency, readiness to share knowledge both at the level of enterprises and employees.

This year efforts are about to kick off to develop an information and technological platform with a smart knowledge base being at its core. We will teach the platform in semi-automatic mode, check uniqueness of data entities and classify them, monitor violations of copyrights and allied rights, screen for irrelevant data, generate analyses and reports, and provide the database with an advanced intellectual search engine.

This said, it is not the AI that will have the upper hand in the system, but rather experts, employees of USC, possessing knowledge and expertise in a certain area. They will be able to provide reasoned opinions on various issues, verify knowledge, advise colleagues on solving problems, and share their experience on their own blog. While the process of listing such unique specialists is still in progress, we are resolved to initiate a special policy for them to keep them at USC and facilitate the knowledge sharing with young personnel. This way we want to stop the drain of knowledge and expertise associated with the departure or retirement of key experts.

What to add to the base will rest with the heads of companies, USC’s scientific and technical council, and rank and file members. Any employee will be able to suggest something for publishing. As soon as it is checked and approved by experts, the data will become part of the database.

The project will envisage such tools as ‘accumulation of lessons learned and best practices’ and ‘analysis of the completed project results.’ This way the knowledge of experience gained by enterprises, cutting-edge technologies and solutions developed and tested, solutions to various technological and design problems will proliferate. Obviously, the initiative will cut down the time and resources needed to carry out tasks, for which effective solutions have already been found.

Provisions have been made to have the new system encompass so called implicit knowledge, always present in the conscience, behavior, perceptions of each person and manifesting in his or her expertise, skills, intuition, and views.

For transmitting such knowledge, we also have multiple tools at hand, including mentoring programs, presentations of best practices at various corporate events, professional communities and meetings with experts, video interviews with experts, as well as their blogs and forums based on the information and technical platform of the system.

At later stages the system can be augmented by an idea bank, intra-corporate crowdsourcing sub-system, resource exchange and predictive support system, providing a user with information stored in the data base, which is relevant to the work he or she is performing on the computer.

Everybody gains

The adoption of the system will prove to be instrumental in stockpiling and developing data bases in shipbuilding, taking more effective management, design and production decisions, identifying and implementing over and over again ‘best practices’, as well as transferring knowledge to future generations. Besides, the system will come in handy for hedging risks, related to the loss of critical expertise, and supporting innovative and technical development processes.

It is engineers, specialists and designers who will gain most of all, for the system grants them access to knowledge and information, which otherwise cannot be found anywhere, let alone in the Internet. It will let them communicate with key expert on USC’s staff and share experience, get heard by their colleagues and recognized by the professional community.

For implementation of the pilot project USC shortlisted Admiralty Shipyards, Vympel design office, Baltic Shipyard, and Onega Research and Development Technological Bureau. Look for the first results in no more than a year.

Implicit knowledge

Implicit knowledge is gained during practical operations and can only be extended to another person partially and voluntarily

We always know more than we can say, and we will always say more than we can write down

There is no way to make an inventory of our own knowledge, at each particular moment we know only what we know at that moment

In real situations the knowledge that we need will manifest itself

Failure teaches us more than success


Alexander Solovyev

Director General of the Vyborg Shipyard

We believe that if treated seriously, the implementation of the project will let us escape scores of errors both in the design and construction phases, step up dramatically the technical level of maritime equipment and labor efficiency.

Sergey Kunin

Chief engineer with the Shiprepairing Center Zvyozdochka

The project has everything there is to encompass a great diversity of knowledge in shipbuilding and maintenance. Given its emphasis on the exchange of data between companies, the system will have a positive impact on construction and maintenance terms and costs.

Evgeny Zudin

Director General of the 10 Shipyard

We believe that the knowledge management system will set up favorable conditions for generating solutions to general problems, facing many of us in our trade, and making impact on the import substitution initiative.

Alexander Yeshchenko (2018)

Deputy Director General of the Baltic Shipyard

We believe that the pilot project will become a solid platform for sharing experience and expertise, thus boosting USC’s research and technical potential.