English philosopher and statesman, Francis Bacon, had it right with his immortal phrase ‘knowledge is power’. Coined by the revered Lord Chancellor in the 16th century, it’s a sentiment that holds true today.
Every business is built on knowledge, skill and expertise. But does your organisation make use of its homegrown attributes to the fullest?
To help you put dormant in-house knowledge to use, we’re taking a look at the process of knowledge transfer – from what it is and how it works, to the benefits it can bring for your business.
- What is a Knowledge Transfer Plan?
- Why Should You Implement Knowledge Transfer?
- How to Implement a Knowledge Transfer Plan
A knowledge transfer plan is the means of extracting the knowledge and expertise of key personnel in your organisation, and storing and sharing it with others to maximise efficiency and bolster individual skillsets. It’s a strategic tool you can use to increase operational performance, and ensure that your teams continue to learn, develop and grow.
The essence of knowledge transfer might sound vague and intangible, but it’s a simple process to formalise and implement. Drawing up a transfer plan will set out a step-by-step approach on how to capture knowledge, as well as the most efficient paths to sharing this with the wider team.
Knowledge transfer might sound like something you’d prefer to happen organically, but formalising the process can bring advantages for you, the business and your people. Let’s take a look at some of the good-to-knows of implementing knowledge transfer.
It Comes into its Own When Key Personnel Decide to Leave
If you implement knowledge transfer for just one reason, make it this. When key members of your team decide to leave, you stand to lose the knowledge they’ve brought to your organisation throughout their tenure – a loss which could have repercussions across the business.
Think of knowledge transfer as a means of ‘offboarding’ valuable personnel; you want to extract as much knowledge and expertise from them before they leave as possible. Therefore, a formal, step-by-step process not only guarantees this, but means you already have a plan in place on how best to extract their knowledge and skills before they walk out the door.
It Helps Bring New Hires Up to Speed
Have you recently recruited new personnel to build a key area of your business? Knowledge transfer can help get them up to speed quickly, so you see a more immediate return on investment.
There are several means of executing a knowledge transfer plan to be of maximum value to new hires. On-the-job experience, mentoring and shadowing are tried-and-tested methods, while e-learning and instructor-led training can also be of value when getting rookies up to speed.
It Affords Opportunities for Individuals to Learn and Grow
Every manager strives to nurture an ambitious workforce, and establishing a healthy flow of knowledge between teams and individuals is a way to ensure this. For many, on-the-job learning is almost certain to garner better results than tired training courses – improving engagement and the ease at which they absorb new skills and knowledge.
Implementing a knowledge transfer plan can pay dividends for your company development strategy, while saving money on the cost of training and third-party initiatives. So put your in-house knowledge to work and come up with a plan that benefits everyone.
Building a knowledge transfer plan can sound dauntingly ambiguous; a ‘where do you start?!’ kind of project. But with a strategic, step-by-step approach, you’ll soon have an efficient knowledge transfer process in hand.
Here, we’ll take a look at the four steps of implementing a knowledge transfer plan.
Step 1: Identifying ‘The Knowledge’
The first and most crucial step is determining the knowledge you want to capture. This might sound challenging, but chances are you already have an idea of the individuals and expertise you’re looking for; they’re your team after all.
As a means of pinning down the skills and knowledge you think will be of most value to the team, consider the following:
- Which personnel does the business lean on for key tasks and functions?
- What skills, knowledge and expertise do they have that others don’t?
- What would happen if they left? Which competencies would the business be lacking?
Once you’ve considered these points, you’ll be in a good position to begin capturing knowledge, ready to share and store within the business.
Step 2: Knowledge Capture
So, you’ve identified where the knowledge needs to come from, but how do you go about capturing it? This is a relatively simple step, but one that does require the right approach.
First, we’d recommend creating a database wherein you list key personnel and the expertise you want to extract. This will help you prioritise, organise and tactically distribute knowledge going forward.
Next, you’ll need to approach the individuals you have in mind to get them on board with the project. Be mindful of their day-to-day duties and time restraints, requesting their help in lending knowledge only when they’re available.
As a means of keeping the knowledge and information they share in one place, create a shared folder in the cloud where they can store any materials and resources. From here, you can decide on the best way to distribute and share this expertise with the team.
Step 3: Distributing Knowledge
The ‘fun’ part, so to speak, comes when you’re ready to distribute knowledge to the team. This is when you begin to see the results of your efforts – with a stream of knowledge bolstering operational performance, improving collaboration and imbuing your people with a sense of purpose.
As we touched on earlier, there are several ways to execute your knowledge transfer plan, including:
- Shadowing – shadowing has been around for years, and it’s one of the most prevalent forms of knowledge sharing in every industry. If you want to train an individual in a specific area, having them ‘shadow shift’ senior personnel is one of the most effective – albeit, rudimentary – ways of getting them up to speed.
- Mentoring – mentoring takes shadowing a stage further; it’s a tailored, long-term approach incorporating both on-the-job experience and individual learning. Giving senior-level staff the responsibility of mentoring junior colleagues has a three-fold benefit:
- It provides substantial benefit for executive-level personnel, helping them develop and take on new responsibilities.
- It gives senior staff more responsibility, authority and a taste for management, which could help them procure a new role.
- It helps the business by increasing operational capacity in key areas, while also being an attractive proposition for prospective new recruits.
- Training – training can be a beneficial and rapid means of sharing knowledge between individuals and teams, and is the best option when key members are leaving in the near future. It is, however, resource-heavy, and not every individual will be able to plan and execute training sessions.
Talk to your ‘knowledge sharers’ about the best – and their preferred – approach to sharing and distributing knowledge. How do they see the information being best absorbed? And to whom will the knowledge and expertise be of most benefit?
We hope you’ve enjoyed this guide on creating a practicable knowledge transfer plan for your organisation. At JS3 Global, our experienced ERP specialists can recommend innovative software and solutions to help your business thrive, whatever its objectives. For more information or for a free, no-obligation quote, visit the homepage or call +44(0)161 503 0866.