How VTB Bank Came to Centralized Knowledge Management

By Monica Kohn   |   March 11, 2019
How VTB Bank Came to Centralized Knowledge Management

Imagine that you are calling the bank’s call center about a certain issue and get one answer. Then you come to the branch, but the information received earlier is irrelevant. In order to avoid such discrepancies, we decided to leave the existing solution in the bank created on SharePoint, reworked all the content, identified the sources and consumers of data and repackaged all the necessary information into a new knowledge management system – one for all departments. In this post we will share our experiences.

Imagine that you are calling the bank’s call center about a certain issue and get one answer. Then you come to the branch, but the information received earlier is irrelevant.  In order to avoid such discrepancies, we decided to leave the existing solution in the bank created on SharePoint, reworked all the content, identified the sources and consumers of data and repackaged all the necessary information into a new knowledge management system – one for all departments. In this post we will share our experiences.

Problem statement and decision choice

To begin with, all the information that relates to customer service, our products and services, had to be unified. Historically, knowledge was stored in three major knowledge bases created at different times, in fact, in different banks. At the same time, one of the key requirements was the ability to provide different amounts of data – for example, for points of sale and the call center. In the first case, the detailed information is important: when people come to the offline branches, they expect to hear all the details on the issues that interest them. In the second case, on the contrary, sufficiently brief information is the main thing and it should be provided quickly and clearly.

The task was especially complicated because we had as many as six internal customers. And accordingly, different types of requirements. Everyone had different criteria regarding functionality, performance and support. For example, the presence of SSO, integration with Active Directory, etc. What was important was the ability of the rapid deployment team. We expected that the new system would reduce the service time for 25% of calls to the call center by 5 seconds, and also reduce the time of training. Previously, 3% of the total working time was spent on this, and when it comes to more than 30,000 workers, the costs are considerable.

In addition, during the project VTB was at the stage of merger of the two large banks in its structure, and the clients of the future system were in different subnets in different segments. All this needed to be combined in order to provide the employees working with the system with a pass through, taking into account roles, various levels of access to information, etc. Here it was necessary to solve a lot of additional infrastructure issues.

We put all necessary requirements and criteria in one scoring table. We looked at all the key solutions existing in the market, both Russian and foreign, uploaded parts of our content into them, and evaluated what we’ve got. Eventually we agreed on a single knowledge management system from KMS Lighthouse. The DIS Group team, which offers KMS Lighthouse in the Russian market assisted us with the implementation.

2500 articles in 16 templates for 60 thousand users

In our new knowledge management system there are two key entities – the “template” and the “article”. An article is a formalized page with information. The same article looks different for all role-based user groups (bank employees). Groups are formed depending on the organizational, functional or business affiliation of employees.

After analyzing the content we have, we realized that we were dealing with 2500 articles. This sea of information needed to be decomposed into the minimum allowable number of templates. Moreover, the articles needed to keep the flexibility described above. There was a lot of manual work on creating templates, matching and renegotiating. But in the end, we managed to fit into 16 templates, and for 2500 articles this is a good level of systematization.

Work on content

16 templates are distributed between three groups of content managers. The first group is responsible for the content associated with the call center. The second group is working on products, services and related information. The third one is content managers in the operational unit (DOPB), our back office. In addition, we have a methodological unit that works at the bank level. Almost all bank information passes through it like a filter, and as a result only that which should be placed in the knowledge base remains.

We discussed a more difficult division. We thought to introduce groups’ “owners” responsible for the process and the system. We discussed the position of the “chief editor”, which would verify all changes. But eventually we decided to stop on three groups, since the content is quite clearly divided between them.

KMS Lighthouse allows you to quickly build several levels of coordination, but we decided not to complicate this system and at the level of content managers we made two levels – those who write and those who publish. At the last level those who are responsible for all the content in their group are highlighted. Although there was a question about how to make materials on successful sales of the product division, so far we’ve decided to leave everything as it is.

Thus, it is possible to develop a knowledge base without delay. Suppose the product division wants to post immediately information about a new product. They send a request to the content manager: “Dear colleagues, we need to post this article.” After posting with the help of the feedback mechanisms, there is a revision: there may be a lack of information somewhere, or something does not agree with the template. And this goes on until the division and the content managers will not be happy. Now we are implementing the necessary elements for this interaction: notifications, polls, approval forms. If the created article covers the spheres of different groups of content managers, then everyone becomes responsible for their own tab.

For content managers a separate application server is allocated where you can edit articles or create new ones using existing templates. Here you can also pull up the necessary statistics on search queries, response relevance, referrals, etc. Articles can be not only modified, but also optimized, for example, creating meta tags to improve search. In addition, the search can be improved by forcibly adding certain articles to certain queries. This is called the “Editor’s Pick”: when searching the user sees such materials in a separate column.

Search by the database

In SharePoint people are used to a tree-type presentation of information and interaction with tabs. KMS Lighthouse suggests the use of a full search. When 60 thousand users work with the system (about 1600 at the same time on average), it is worth thinking about the load distribution. Now KMS Lighthouse works on 10 servers. Two virtual machines are deployed on each one. There are 20 virtual machines in the bundle. Between them there is a bank balancer.

The search is based on three search engines that index all content. Search indexes are aligned with the incoming requests and their frequency. This determines the relevance of the answers and their position in the issued results. KMS Lighthouse analyzes requests and can present them in the form of 16 different reports with the help of which content managers work on the system’s content.

Additional features

All employees working with the system are divided into about 35 role groups. Each group has access to certain parts of the articles. A user can be in several groups – then he sees the content for all these groups at once.

Groups are integrated with email and SMS gateways. When working with a bank customer an employee can quickly send him the necessary information, for example, directly during a telephone consultation. That is if you can send the information of course: the articles on disclosure (and admission to printing) indicate individual attributes. There’s no need to rewrite and copy-paste.

Yandex.Maps are also integrated into the knowledge base, through which employees can see how certain branches are loaded. The information is updated every half hour. Having determined in which branches the client can receive this or that service, employees can advise where exactly it’s better to apply in order to save time.

KMS Lighthouse knowledge management is integrated with our frontal system and can be placed directly into its interface as a widget. It is possible to make a quick query and go directly to the article – as in any search engine.

This is how our new knowledge base is organized. Now we are finalizing everything and expect that not only employees, but also VTB customers will appreciate the positive effect from the implementation of KMS Lighthouse.

In conclusion, we’d like to share some joy. In January our “Business Wikipedia” was named the Project of the Year by the Global CIO publication. We will keep you informed and let you know what new features we’re adding to it and how it helps in work.