TMW Systems is a transportation management systems and trucking software provider, making their transportation customers more efficient and profitable. TMW helps make the most of available capacity, bringing workflow automation and powerful business intelligence to the complex world of logistics operations and fleet management. Based in Cleveland, TMW employs 700 people, with satellite offices across the U.S. and Canada.
A Need to Socialize Knowledge
In 2014, TMW was changing rapidly; there were a lot of new employees coming on board. With a large percentage of employees primarily using email to share information, the company was finding a lot of institutional knowledge was getting lost. By the end of the year, they decided it was the right time for a better social learning solution.
John Kittinger is the Internal Training Team Lead at TMW Systems, responsible for onboarding new employees and facilitating internal knowledge sharing.
“We needed a way to capture what our experienced employees know and distribute it to everyone else,” Kittinger said. “We also wanted to streamline information sharing in our support process to record best practices for future reference – rather than tracking down answers to the same questions over and over again.”
The Search for the Right Social Learning Solution
The company already had SharePoint and NetSuite, and they considered using each to solve their knowledge management problem. They also looked at open source wikis, CrowdBase, Jive, Confluence, SmartSupport, Evernote and Google Docs. In the end, their decision came down to two solutions: SharePoint and Bloomfire.
“If we had chosen SharePoint, we would have had to hire a developer to build something from the ground up,” Kittinger said. “We needed something our employees could pick up and use right away.”
“Bloomfire is tailor-made for both knowledge management and social learning; it’s also easy to use. Bloomfire was a perfect fit,” said Kittinger.
A Thoughtful and Measured Rollout of Bloomfire
TMW began using Bloomfire in September 2014. They uploaded materials and presentations from their annual user conference to seed the community with content. The company is organized into industry verticals and Kittinger spent the next few months going vertical by vertical to identify important documents to include in Bloomfire. He then did targeted training with the management and employees of each division to show them how to use Bloomfire to capture knowledge and encourage social learning. TMW focused on rolling out Bloomfire to customer-facing employees in sales and support. By early January, they had 300 users on Bloomfire.
TMW primarily uses Bloomfire to share information about their products, including tips and tricks, releases, and new features. They lean heavily on the question and answer engine as a replacement for email so that this knowledge is captured and accessible to anyone.
“People like the ease of use and the ability to share multi-media content. The search engine has been a big win since, in the past, we had documents that were forever lost in random places on shared network drives,” Kittinger said.
Bloomfire is also now part of the onboarding process. New employees attend a formal two-week training class where they learn about TMW’s products. In the past, everyone received a full three-inch binder with product information. That information has now moved into Bloomfire.
“We’re working to create a seamless transition between our formal training and on-the-job training,” said Kittinger. “We’ve integrated Bloomfire into our live training classes and we encourage new employees to take advantage of it for their informal social learning as well.”
A Cultural Shift to Become More Open and Collaborative
Kittinger says that Bloomfire is part of a significant cultural change at TMW, as the organization moves to become more open and collaborative.
“It’s opened up new ways of thinking about how we share information,” he said. “We’re giving our employees the confidence to know that there is one place to look. If an answer exists, it should be in Bloomfire. If they find it somewhere else, they know it’s their responsibility as a member of the community to share what they’ve learned in Bloomfire so that it’s there for the next person,” Kittinger said.
TMW’s end-goal is to build a self-sustaining community, so engagement is the most important metric they are tracking. During the first two months of 2015, 78 percent of users viewed content, and 32 percent had contributed, hi-fived, or commented. In addition, 87 percent of questions in the community have been answered.
“We want to incent users to add useful content to the community,” Kittinger said. “And we’re continuing to integrate Bloomfire into our employees’ flow of work so that it becomes an indispensable resource that everyone is responsible for sustaining.”