KM at Accenture

Like Ernst & Young, Accenture is a global professional services firm. However, Accenture has a less centralised approach to KM.  At Accenture, knowledge management professionals provide services across a broad spectrum of activities similar to those carried out through the Centre for Business Knowledge at Ernst & Young.

These knowledge management professionals work with client-facing practitioners to deliver relevant knowledge at the appropriate time.

Accenture constantly refines the KM tools available, as shown in the next graphic:

The statistics at Accenture are every bit as impressive as those at Ernst & Young.  In mid 2002 there were 400 knowledge professionals around the world.  Their job is to organise, refine and synthesise knowledge capital around the world, as well as incorporate information from external resources.  These knowledge professionals are aligned to an industry or subject area, and are either dedicated to supporting the practice through research or work within the KM Solution Centre which supports and defines a consistently applied technical infrastructure for KM initiatives.

The knowledge professionals provide services to the rest of the organisation for a fee.  On a monthly basis, almost 400,000 orders for knowledge capital are generated and over 2,000 contributions for knowledge capital are made.

The Knowledge Xchange system at Accenture contains 7,000 Lotus Notes databases, there are 350 managed repositories, 14 global libraries and 540 homepages.  If all the stored knowledge capital was printed there would be over 2 million pages.  If 7,000 Notes databases seems a lot, there used to be 17,000.

Accenture has a communicative culture so that collaboration is easier.

Accenture is moving from a Lotus Notes front-end to a web-based front-end for its portal.  The Notes and web versions have the same content. It uses an intentions-based design for its web portal.  This means that the web interface is designed based on what the user wants to do.  Few users just want to “visit our web site” and few employees just want to “visit the portal.”  There’s usually some reason why they are going to the portal. 

When an Accenture staff member gets to the portal they are presented with options such as:

I need to:
  • locate an expert
  • download/upload content
  • change my password
  • connect to a partner
  • ask for technical support
  • contribute knowledge capital
  • report a security issue

Which ever option is selected leads to a set process for carrying out that task.

You can learn more about intentions-based design from “Governments set new sites” by Heather B Hayes at  On the left hand menu choose Online Archive>Government e-business>find October 29, 2001>choose the abovementioned article.

This article has a strong focus on government but it also explains the intentions-based design approach really well and you can visit the sites it mentions to see examples of sites that have taken this approach. There’s good content on web design as well, but the key thing for you to see is why such design is a sound approach from the perspective of the potential user, rather than from the focus of the organisation. It is outside-in design, rather than inside-out design. 

Accenture is practicing what it preaches by using intentions-based design at its own intranet.  There’s some useful background information on portal design for this approach in an Accenture publication titled “Government Portals – The Next Generation of Government Online,” by Vivienne Jupp of Accenture. Industries>Government>Research & Insights>Find the article in the list (May 2001).