Knowledge Transfer: What it is & How to Use it Effectively
Knowledge Transfer is a method of sharing information, abilities, and ideas across different areas in your business. Encourage innovation and boost efficiency with this guide.
April 20 2023
Whether your business is big or small, it’s likely that one of your important daily tasks includes communicating with your team. If you have several departments, it’s even more essential that the right information flows to the right people.
Getting your “wires crossed”, so to speak, can cause organizational delays, major miscommunications, and even prospects falling through the cracks. These issues can be greatly detrimental to your business.
Having a straightforward system for communication and collaboration is the key to avoiding these issues.
Knowledge transfer systems aid you in streamlining your knowledge which ensures that everyone on your team has the information they need to keep your business running smoothly .
What is Knowledge Transfer?
“Knowledge Transfer” is a practical method for transitioning knowledge from one part of your business to another.
It is both a theory and a practice – which means that it can be applied to your company culture and to your business systems.
It is more than just communication, though. It involves the circulation of information, ideas, tasks, processes, tools, documents, and so much more.
What Knowledge Transfer is NOT
Knowledge transfer is not the same as “training”. Neither is it simply the circulation of information (facts and data).
While it does include these things, knowledge transfer has more to do with identifying and harnessing your team members’ adaptable skills and abilities to apply information.
It’s also difficult to transfer personal, experiential knowledge from one person to another. So, knowledge transfer does its best to combine both the practical with the personal in order to shift team behavior and grow their skills.
Why Knowledge Transfer Matters for Your Business Problem Solving
Have you ever come up with a great idea, just to struggle to figure out how to put it down on paper?
When it comes to innovation and problem solving, it can be hard to convert abstract concepts into an actual game plan. Beyond that, you need to figure out a way to apply that idea to the task at hand.
Sharing knowledge is tricky because it involves quantifying and qualifying knowledge that exists in the mind. A knowledge transfer system helps you translate that knowledge into words, visuals, and processes that can then be shared with your team.
A Perfectly Imperfect Approach to Problem Solving
Knowledge transfer matters for your business because it improves innovation, collaboration, and understanding in your business. Rather than relying on facts and data to share information across departments, you’re better able to paint a holistic picture of complicated concepts.
Since we are talking about knowledge – something rather intangible – this is a perfectly imperfect process. You can’t get your team to read your mind… but you can get close.
Uses of Knowledge Transfer
Knowledge transfer can help your business in the following ways:
- Accelerate the accumulation and dissemination of knowledge across your organization
- Provide easy and rapid knowledge access to your team
- Eliminate time and space constraints in communications
- Stimulate associates to experience the value of sharing knowledge in providing custom-tailored service to customers
- Respect the dignity of each individual by cultivating an environment that enhances his or her professional development and recognizes each person as a valued member of a service-oriented team
The application of knowledge transfer to your business rings in many other benefits as well, including: improved company culture, improved quality of service, faster business processes, increased efficiency, and better use of business technology and resources.
In fact, one source found that businesses that implemented a knowledge transfer system saw a 50% rise in sales while experiencing a decrease in the cost of training.
If you’re looking for a way to improve company efficiency, inspire innovation, and reduce costly miscommunications, then it’s worth building a knowledge transfer plan.
How to Do Knowledge Transfer Effectively
So, how does one actually transfer knowledge?
Since knowledge exists in the mind, the best way to transfer knowledge within an organization is to start with considering how knowledge is transferred from one person to another.
There are multiple approaches one can take here: writing, telling, or showing. The method you use depends both on how you communicate and how the other person receives information.
Therefore, when transferring knowledge across multiple areas/personnel, you’ll want to employ a variety of approaches and tools.
An effective knowledge transfer strategy combines technology, culture, measurement, and infrastructure in order to share knowledge across multiple areas in your organization.
By employing multiple methods and technologies, you’ll be better able to communicate knowledge to different types of people with different skill sets.
Below we have broken the knowledge transfer process into 5 steps, including the applicable tools for each.
Step 1: Identify & Collect Knowledge
The process all starts with the cultivation of knowledge. This takes place in the culture of your company.
This often looks like:
- Brainstorming ideas
- Learning new skills
- Inviting in experts or consultants
- Seeking solutions to problems
- Designing new projects
These result in the “intangible” knowledge that you will next want to collect, document, and share with your team.
To create a strong culture of knowledge generation in your company, you can:
- Bring up company problems and seek solutions
- Document those solutions
- Seek input from team members and outsiders
- Encourage collaboration and teamwork
- Mentor and coach staff
- Train and develop staff
Your goal is to create a factory of ideas and an environment that encourages innovation – where everyone has the opportunity to share their ideas, input, and expertise.
Step 2: Capture & Store Knowledge
When it comes to documenting and sharing knowledge, a lot of businesses believe they have this on lock.
But proper knowledge capture and knowledge management is more than just having a file cabinet or Google Drive folders. You must have an infrastructure that makes sense for your business and makes access to that knowledge fast and simple.
Having a knowledge base in place will help you manage both tacit knowledge as well as explicit knowledge that’s being generated in your company.
This system may include:
- Visuals and videos
- Document libraries
- Knowledge portals
- CRM systems
- A dedicated team
With the right knowledge management tools, you make this information readily accessible to anyone on your team that needs it. That means less delay in information changing hands, better organization, and a huge increase in efficiency.
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Step 3: Transfer & Share Knowledge
Now that you have the knowledge and have a system for collection, it’s time to circulate that information to other people and/or departments in your organization.
This knowledge transition process is made more efficient and affordable if you use the right technology.
You’ll want to design a sharing mechanism to facilitate transfer AND create a knowledge transfer plan.
The main components of this include:
- A clearly outlined process document for how knowledge is to be shared in your company.
- A document management system (like Google Drive ) that organizes the knowledge and potentially automates knowledge sharing.
- Communication facilities (like Slack ) that facilitate collaboration and communication.
- A dedicated person or persons to circulate the knowledge to the appropriate department(s).
- A follow-up process to confirm that the information was delivered to the right people in the right way at the right time.
Now, what this process looks like will depend on a variety of factors – from your business structure to the size of your team to your budget available for tools and resources.
Therefore, your best bet is to work with an operations expert in combination with a reliable knowledge base software to create the right system for you.
This will ensure that the knowledge is circulated effectively and efficiently.
Step 4: Apply Knowledge & Measure Results
The next step is to apply this knowledge and measure the results .
You can use Knowledge Management tools to assess success across multiple key performance indicators (KPIs).
For example, if the knowledge shared was regarding a solution to an important business problem – say, improving follow-up to leads dropping off at one stage of the sales cycle – you will want the appropriate team (in this case, Sales), to apply the solution and the report on the results.
Tools like Hubspot and Pipedrive give you the ability to track the progress of tasks, set benchmarks, and measure your success. This is the best way to know if the knowledge is being put to good use and is paying off.
Whether the results are good, poor, or okay, this should also be recorded and then communicated to the appropriate people. See how the knowledge cycle continues? With this system, you’ll never miss a beat.
Step 5: Create New Knowledge
Assume you discover that a new idea, technology, or solution is paying off. You can then apply this to other areas within your company. If the results are coming up short, on the other hand, this presents a new opportunity to innovate.
Having a knowledge transfer system ensures that your business is never stagnant when it comes to new ideas and problem-solving.
If you want your business to grow, you’ll want to cultivate an environment that encourages the constant pursuit of knowledge.
Create a Knowledge Transfer Plan for Your Business
In Step 4 we mentioned the need to create a solid knowledge transfer plan. While this will differ from business to business, there are basic components worth considering.
Identify the key knowledge holders in your organization . Does the knowledge “trickle down” from the top? Or are the true visionaries the ones in the trenches? Give the right people the opportunity to share the knowledge they have.
Motivate them to share . Encourage your “idea people” and internal experts to share their knowledge. Give them a platform to do that – whether that be through a communication channel like Slack, by giving them the floor during company meetings, or providing some other medium.
Make sharing easy . Have fast and simple tools available for people and departments to share information.
Measure results consistently . Set standards and benchmarks. Monitor progress. Communicate the results to your keep. Be receptive to input and adjust when necessary.
Apply the knowledge . Don’t let your business sleep on the knowledge available. What use is a good idea if it isn’t put into action. Offer incentives your team members to be innovative and take initiative. Encourage taking appropriate risks.
Continue generating knowledge . Bring in industry experts, offer training, hold brainstorm sessions, and otherwise encourage a community that pursues knowledge. If there is a problem, take it to your team to think up a solution. Don’t be a company that says, “We have always done it this way”. Look for different ways to do things.
Ready to improve your company culture, boost innovation, and increase collaboration in your company?
Hopefully, this guide got your wheels turning when it comes to creating your own effective knowledge transfer strategy.
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Knowledge Transfer Management Process Examples & Framework
by Rob Manfredi | Aug 26, 2020 | Products , The Bamboo Team Blog , The Business of SharePoint
Knowledge Transfer Management: What it is and How to Apply It
In a perfect world, all our best employees would stay with the company forever, but unfortunately, relocation, retirement, and resignations are all eventualities that business owners have to navigate.
Companies need to be proactive about dealing with staff turnover to cushion themselves, and knowledge transfer management is one of the more essential ways they can do this. If implemented correctly, a knowledge transition process can save your company a lot of heartache and headaches when a team member leaves.
We are going to dive into building a knowledge management system and making it accessible and durable.
What is Knowledge Transfer Management?
Knowledge transfer is the process of sharing or disseminating knowledge from one part of the organization or individual to another. With employees, this process involves storing and sharing their knowledge and best practices. This includes implicit (competence), explicit knowledge (procedures and processes), and tacit knowledge (experience). It is up to the company to collate the knowledge and information from these three areas so that they can be passed on to others in the event that an employee leaves the organization or is unavailable.
An efficient knowledge transfer framework is one in which companies establish a central source of company information that can be accessed by current and future employees. It takes a multidisciplinary approach—from administration to information systems and others, and focuses on organizational objectives.
In order to transfer knowledge, you have to look beyond training, which is only a part of it. No single knowledge-sharing method addresses all three types of knowledge perfectly. The complete process involves the harnessing and dissemination of the adaptable skills and abilities of your team members.
Importance of Knowledge Transfer Management for Businesses
Having a clear knowledge of what your employees know and how to transfer that knowledge is critical for businesses. For one, organizations that have developed effective systems to transfer knowledge are more productive and more likely to survive the loss of a critical member of staff.
It’s well-known that employee turnover comes at a high cost to companies. In hard costs alone, one study by the Center for American Progress found that employers spend six to nine months of an employee’s salary finding and training their replacement.
If employees know their success is vital to their company, they will perform better. A harsh learning curve creates a negative experience for your new hire, which hurts your culture, productivity, and quality control and ultimately leads to higher attrition. Organizations that use knowledge management systems have more confident, competent, and satisfied employees than those relying on informal, haphazard onboarding procedures.
Even where it doesn’t cost much, teams that apply efficient knowledge transfer management are more motivated and agile when it comes to adapting to new processes, which drives company growth.
Once competence is achieved, employees are free to focus some of their energy on improving your business, which pays incalculable dividends.
Four Tips for Improving Knowledge Transfer Management
Without an effective way to retain and transfer knowledge, organizations have a difficult time onboarding new employees and providing uninterrupted service to customers. Knowledge transfer skills in an organization can be developed through four main steps:
1. Identify and Cultivate Key Information
Deciding what kind of information should remain available to people on your team is mostly about identifying valuable information. Valuable information includes both everyday information such as how to log timesheets or basic customer processes, as well as complex knowledge, like business strategies.
To simplify it, ask yourself, “What knowledge would I want a new employee to have if Employee X left the company?”
It is often said that the lowest level employees know the most about what is and isn’t working; ask them and their managers what knowledge they find most essential or had to learn “the hard way.”
The answers are not likely to be comprehensive, and this is where cultivation methods come in. Cultivating this information is based on the different ways information is transferred from one person to another. Knowledge management examples of this are:
- “KT sessions” such as mentoring and coaching
- Collaboration and teamwork
- CHAD, ADDIE, or agile development frameworks
Through the above, organizations are able to generate knowledge that they should document. Remember, you can’t ask too many questions during information gathering. It may also be beneficial to engage professional instructional designers or project managers to help with this type of detailed analysis.
2. Capture that Knowledge
Now that you have determined what knowledge is unique and valuable, the next step is to document it. For some information, Word documents, spreadsheets, and presentations are sufficient. However, proper knowledge capture is more than just having a virtual and physical file cabinet. A complete knowledge library consists of reports, visuals, knowledge portals , CRM systems, and more.
To populate this, a standard process of documentation is needed. Organizations that use knowledge management should have an outline of how, when, and where employees should save information.
3. Choose Your Platforms
Your knowledge transition management infrastructure is only complete when the information is easy and quickly accessible to everyone. Knowledge management examples include policy databases, shared folders, communication infrastructure, regular mentor/coaching sessions, in-person training, virtual training, a video channel, and meetings to discuss best practices, etc.
You may decide that all you need is a way for employees to look up policies and procedures, rather than any kind of training platform. Ask yourself questions like:
- How often do I want to engage in intentional knowledge-sharing activities?
- Do I expect my employees to effectively self-educate as part of their work duties?
- Will knowledge resources be used during customer interactions?
- How will I assess knowledge?
The right platforms to facilitate knowledge transfer will either have or support integration with external software such as these:
- Easy to organize.
- Easily accessible.
- Requires little effort to save information.
- Standardizes and automates information storage.
- Allows for information updates and identifies duplicate content.
- Enables employees to save and share information in a variety of formats.
- Learning management software (LMS) support which allows completion tracking, knowledge assessment, and virtual training capabilities.
Reusable learning object (RLO) support allows content to be easily maintained instead of recreated uniquely every time.
4. transfer and share knowledge.
Having information available in one place is a game-changer, but policies and procedures change; the content must be maintained and disseminated.
Through the right application, knowledge transfer can be done regularly and to all departments. Virtual communities , mentoring, and social networking are all ways that successful knowledge transfer can take place. These processes depend on the nature and size of your company, so they should be custom-created and continuously adjusted to suit your needs.
Does your organization need to implement a knowledge transfer management strategy?
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Journal of Knowledge Management
ISSN : 1367-3270
Article publication date: 1 March 2002
One of the major challenges an organization faces is to manage its knowledge assets. Increasingly, the use of knowledge is seen as a basis for competitive advantage. This paper explores the key factors that have been cited as significant influences on the ability to transfer knowledge, an important area of knowledge management. Each of these factors is discussed separately and then integrated into a conceptual framework to explain how effective knowledge transfer can be managed in an organization. A set of managerial implications, or a qualitative assessment approach, is also discussed. It is framed as organizational characteristics and managerial practices required to establish an effective knowledge transfer process in an organization. Conclusions are drawn about the complexity of managing knowledge transfer and the need to take a balanced approach to the process.
- Corporate culture
Goh, S.C. (2002), "Managing effective knowledge transfer: an integrative framework and some practice implications", Journal of Knowledge Management , Vol. 6 No. 1, pp. 23-30. https://doi.org/10.1108/13673270210417664
Copyright © 2002, MCB UP Limited
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The Basics of Knowledge Transfer: A Beginner's Guide
On March 2, 2023
Did you know that knowledge transfer can have a significant impact on an organisation's bottom line? According to a recent study by Zippia, companies that prioritise knowledge transfer are 4.5 times more likely to have highly engaged employees. In addition, knowledge transfer can lead to about a 25% increase in productivity and a 35% decrease in employee turnover
These impressive statistics highlight that effectively running a business involves more than just providing excellent products, implementing flawless operational plans, coming up with winning marketing strategies and yielding smooth customer self-service experience. A profitable business also requires the owners to further invest in knowledge transfer to ensure the highest productivity of each individual and simultaneously, avoid friction in cooperation across departments.
But where do you start? Let this article guide you in. We get your back with:
- Knowledge transfer definition,
- Why knowledge transfer,
- Knowledge transfer use cases,
- Steps to take to transfer knowledge with ease,
- Top knowledge transfer templates
- Frequently asked questions about transferring knowledge.
Whether you're a new manager looking to develop your team or a seasoned professional seeking to refine your skills, this guide will provide you with the essential tools and techniques needed to succeed.
So let's dive in and explore the basics of knowledge transfer!
What is Knowledge Transfer?
Knowledge transfer (or KT meaning in software) refers to a process in which employees or employers share their skills, information, experience, or ideas with other departments or other individuals in a business . It can involve a variety of methods such as mentoring, training, coaching, or simply sharing information through communication channels.
Transferring knowledge across your company or organisation can spur staff to exploit technology innovation and enhance productivity along with efficiency.
The goal of knowledge transfer is to ensure that critical knowledge is passed on and retained within an organisation, team, or community . By sharing expertise and experience, individuals can build upon their successes and avoid the mistakes of others, leading to better decision-making and improved performance.
Since knowledge transmission is of paramount importance for a thriving firm, business owners may need assistance to store, manage and share the information with ease. That's when a knowledge transfer process or knowledge management system comes in handy.
A knowledge transfer system is a powerful tool that enables the knowledge transition to occur without a hitch . This tool should be software instead of tons of files and folders so that you can easily give access to your employees, tweak the application, keep up with the latest technology upheavals, and track the knowledge transfer process.
If knowledge management is not a familiar subject to you, please check our knowledge base hub for more valuable insights:
- What is knowledge management?
- The basics of creating and managing a knowledge base
- How to develop a winning knowledge management strategy within 15 minutes?
Importance of Knowledge Transfer Process
With the aim of improving efficiency, reducing errors, and promoting innovation, knowledge transfer sessions are often crucial for decision-makers, project owners and managers. Here are some key reasons why knowledge transmission is essential for these stakeholders:
- Ensuring business continuity: Knowledge transfer ensures that the organisation has a continuous supply of skilled and knowledgeable employees to sustain the business, regardless of changes in personnel, leadership, or market conditions.
- Boosting innovation: KT session encourages innovation by bringing together different perspectives and ideas from diverse sources, leading to new ways of approaching problems and identifying opportunities.
- Enhancing competitiveness: The transfer of knowledge can help an organisation stay competitive by keeping up with technological advancements, market trends, and customer demands.
- Mitigating risk: Effective knowledge transfer reduces the risk of costly errors, project delays, or operational inefficiencies that may arise due to a lack of expertise or knowledge.
Use Cases of Knowledge Transfer
Knowledge transfer is a critical process that enables organisations to share expertise, skills, and experience across teams, projects, and departments. Here are some cases that make KT session meaningful to demonstrate its importance and value:
- Onboarding of new employees: When new employees join an organisation, the KT document helps them quickly get up to speed on company policies, procedures, and best practices. Knowledge transfer to new employees also allows them to learn from more experienced team members, gaining valuable insights into the organisation's culture, values, and goals.
- Succession planning: Knowledge transfer is critical for ensuring business continuity during times of change or transition, such as when a key employee retires or leaves the organisation. By transferring their knowledge and expertise to other team members, the organisation can mitigate the risk of losing critical institutional knowledge
- Knowledge sharing across departments: Knowledge transfer can help break down silos between departments and encourage collaboration by sharing knowledge and expertise across different teams. This can lead to more efficient and effective decision-making, as well as the development of new products, services, or processes.
- Process improvement: Whenever there are many complex procedures, knowledge transfer can be used to improve processes within an organisation by identifying areas for improvement and sharing best practices across teams.
- Innovation: It can foster innovation by sharing new ideas, technologies, and practices across teams and departments.
- Knowledge retention: Knowledge transfer can be used to retain critical knowledge within an organisation, ensuring that it is not lost when employees leave or retire.
- Implementation of new technologies: When implementing new technologies or systems, knowledge transfer is essential for ensuring that team members understand how to use them effectively. Thus, KT process can reduce the risk of errors, increase adoption rates, and ultimately lead to greater productivity and efficiency.
- Best practices sharing: Knowledge transfer can help identify and share best practices across the organisation, enabling teams to learn from one another and improve their processes. This can lead to greater standardisation, consistency, and quality in the organisation's work.
- Continuous learning and improvement: Knowledge transition can facilitate a culture of continuous learning and improvement within an organisation, by encouraging team members to share their knowledge and experience with others. Ultimately, it can result in a more skilled and knowledgeable workforce, better decision-making, and greater innovation.
- Mergers and acquisitions: When two organisations merge or one acquires the other, knowledge transfer is essential to ensure that employees have the necessary information and skills to continue their work in the new organisation.
How to Effectively Transfer Knowledge?
Effective knowledge transfer requires careful planning, clear communication, and a structured approach. Here are some key steps to consider when transferring knowledge:
1. Identify the knowledge to be transferred
The first step in effective knowledge transfer is to identify what knowledge-sharing topics need to be transferred. This may involve mapping out the skills, expertise, and experience that are critical to the success of a project, process, or function.
For example, if an organisation is implementing a new technology platform, the knowledge to be transferred may include understanding how to use the platform, troubleshooting common issues, and leveraging its features to improve productivity.
2. Identify the target audience
Once the knowledge has been identified, the next step is to determine who needs to receive it. Different people learn and process information in different ways. To effectively transfer knowledge, it's essential to tailor the approach to the audience's needs and learning style.
This could involve adjusting the pace of the training, providing hands-on experience, or using real-life examples. For example, if an organisation is i mplementing a new marketing strategy, the target audience may include the marketing team, sales team, and customer service team.
Based on that, you may decide whether catchy word for knowledge sharing is more appropriate than formal types.
3. Choose the right method
Some individuals may learn best through hands-on experience, while others may prefer to learn through reading or listening to lectures. Thus, choosing the right method of knowledge transfer is essential afterwards.
There are many methods that can be used to transfer knowledge, including training sessions, coaching, mentoring, documentation, and job shadowing.
By selecting the appropriate method of knowledge transfer, you can ensure that the information is presented in a way that is engaging, accessible, and effective for the target audience. This can lead to better retention of the knowledge being shared and improved application of the skills being taught.
For instance, if an organisation is training employees on a new software program, a hands-on training session may be more effective than written documentation.
4. Develop a structured approach
Developing a structured approach to knowledge transfer is important because it helps ensure that the process is organised, consistent, and effective. Without a structured approach, knowledge transfer can be haphazard and inconsistent, which can lead to misunderstandings, errors, and inefficiencies.
To ensure that knowledge transfer is effective and efficient, it's important to develop a structured knowledge transfer checklist that includes clear objectives, timelines, and milestones. This can help keep the process on track and ensure that key knowledge is transferred in a timely manner.
In the case of a new product launch, for instance, the plan may call for a four-week period of systematic training to ensure that all team members are adequately taught and coordinated.
5. Create a supportive environment
If you want to get your message over, it's important to set up a conducive environment for learning. Effective transmission of knowledge is crucial since it boosts morale all around, makes workers happier, and makes it easier for them to learn new things and stay with the company longer. Organisational success and the spread of information may also be boosted by fostering an encouraging atmosphere.
This may involve encouraging team members to ask questions, providing feedback and support, and creating opportunities for practice and application of new knowledge.
For example, if an organisation is implementing a new sales process, creating a supportive environment may involve assigning a mentor to each sales team member to provide ongoing coaching and support.
6. Measure and evaluate success
To ensure that knowledge transfer is effective, measuring and evaluating a project’s success are always in need . It helps identify areas of strength and weakness, makes it possible for continual development, and offers proof of the impact that the knowledge transfer activities have had.
This may involve collecting feedback from team members, tracking performance metrics, and monitoring progress against objectives.
One such common example is when an organisation is implementing a new project management process, monitoring success may involve tracking project timelines and budget, and collecting feedback from team members on the effectiveness of the new process.
Best Knowledge Transfer Document Template
Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) Template
This KT document format is ideal for documenting step-by-step processes for specific tasks or activities.
The template typically includes sections for purpose, scope, responsibilities, materials needed, procedures, and references. SOPs are commonly used in manufacturing, healthcare, and other industries where consistent processes are essential.
Using an SOP template helps businesses document their processes and procedures in a consistent and standardized format. This consistency can help improve quality, reduce errors, and increase efficiency.
Use this template to establish SOPs for specific farm tasks or chores. An SOP is a good idea for any task or chore that is to be accomplished more than once. Consider that farm tasks may take place in the office, in a processing facility, in the barn, in the field, or off the farm.
Work Instruction Template
This template is similar to an SOP template but is used for documenting more detailed instructions for a specific task or activity. It typically includes sections for purpose, scope, materials required, safety precautions, step-by-step instructions, and references.
Project Work Instruction Template
Besides those templates above, you can definitely leverage advanced technology to transfer knowledge without a hitch. Smart Knowledge is undoubtedly a priceless tool to go for as you can ensure every individual has access to the information hub and harness it in the upcoming tasks.
Smart Tribune also goes the extra mile with Smart Dashboard for you to seamlessly monitor and manage knowledge.
Can’t imagine how wonderful Smart Knowledge is? Book a demo with us to find out why over 150 businesses love our knowledge management system!
FAQs about Knowledge Transfer
KT, or knowledge transfer meaning refers to the process of transferring knowledge, skills, or expertise from one individual or group to another.
The rationale for the transfer of technology can play a significant role in knowledge-sharing management. By providing tools and platforms for sharing, storing, and accessing information, it influences almost every major part of the process.
Examples of technology used in knowledge sharing management include collaborative software, knowledge management systems, and learning management systems.
A KT session is a meeting or discussion designed to facilitate knowledge transfer between individuals or groups. It may involve sharing best practices, lessons learned, or other insights related to a specific topic or project.
Final Thoughts on Knowledge Transfer
Knowledge transfer is the lifeblood of any organisation, allowing it to thrive and evolve over time. By embracing knowledge transfer as a fundamental aspect of organisational culture, businesses can create a dynamic environment of innovation and progress. To streamline the knowledge transfer process and ensure the highest quality of it, employ Smart Knowledge as your silver bullet.
Whether through formal training programs, peer-to-peer mentorship, or simple conversations around the water cooler, knowledge transfer is the foundation upon which new ideas are born and great accomplishments are achieved.
So, let's all commit to sharing our knowledge and expertise, and watch as our businesses and communities flourish and grow!
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What is knowledge transfer.
Knowledge transfer is the process through which one unit such as department, group, team, division, etc. is affected by the experience of another and is manifested through changes in the knowledge or performance of the recipient units and can be demonstrated by measuring changes in performance (Argote and Ingram, 2000). Organizational knowledge can be observed through changes in the knowledge or performance of the recipient of the unit. It should always be noted that the transfer of this organizational knowledge is not an easy task.
Knowledge transfer can also be said to be a means by which expertise, knowledge, skills, and capabilities are transferred from the knowledge-base such as university and college to those who need the knowledge namely company, social enterprise, and NGOs. In short, we can say it is the interphase between universities and businesses. It involves the commercialization of skills and expertise possessed by higher education. The purpose of knowledge transfer is to catalyze and facilitate innovation. Knowledge transfer seeks to organize, create, capture or distribute knowledge and ensure its availability for future users. Knowledge transfer is not accomplished through just communication, memo or meetings but many more. It is a complex process because it resides in organizational members, tools, tasks, and their sub-network. Most of the knowledge with the HRs in any organization is tacit; hard to articulate.
What is the importance of knowledge transfer to the organization?
Knowledge transfer is not just about the transfer of information but about passing on experience, best practice, and learning. It aims in reducing the gap between knowledge and practice. Knowledge transfer in organizations has increased in importance. For instance, according to Valentine (2011) developing the right knowledge system enables organizations to improve work practices, take better decisions and avoid the criticism that comes from failing to learn from previous experiences.
Organizations can also enjoy better performance if they occupy a central network position that provides access to new knowledge developed by other units. This unit, however, depends on the units’ absorptive capacity and ability to successfully replicate new knowledge (Aoker and Keller, 1990).
Knowledge transfer and management promote and encourage knowledge-driven culture by which innovations are stimulated. It emphasizes the importance of innovative organizational culture , where innovation, creativity and learning from mistakes is appreciated. It helps in creating tools, platforms, and processes for creating, sharing and transferring tacit knowledge in the organization.
Tacit knowledge is very important for the development of innovation capability. Knowledge transfer help in identifying ‘stock’ of tacit knowledge in an organization. It helps in encoding tacit knowledge into explicit knowledge. By providing a structured approach to knowledge, knowledge management allows an organization to identify in which areas it lacks knowledge and to systematically fill the knowledge base in these areas. The organization can do that through innovation if there are gaps in so-called strategic areas of knowledge or can do that through operational activities in knowledge management. Knowledge management helps steady growth of knowledge base, and in that way, improves innovation capability through continuous collection and storage of explicit and tacit knowledge.
What are the benefits of knowledge transfer to the employees?
i. The employees will become less dependent upon consultants for similar future projects, or for the continuing the consultant’s work
ii. The skills and capabilities of the staff will be enhanced
iii. Employees will benefit from consultants’ lessons learned on other, similar projects
iv. Involvement of staff in the change project will help gain employee buy-in to the project and provide them with a greater degree of ownership
What are the ways to ensure critical knowledge transfer?
Knowledge transfer is a constant in any organization because passing along experience-based knowledge is essential.
In a 2013 survey of 73 chief learning officers, chief information officers, and top human resources executives, 78 percent said knowledge loss was a greater problem than five years ago. They also estimated the intangible costs of losing key employees because of delayed projects, loss of valuable relationships, mistakes occasioned by inexperience and extra training. These cost their companies an average of $430,000 for every departure on top of the usual recruitment replacement costs.
Some 42 percent reported hiring experts back as consultants to perform the same work, often at inflated prices — a costly, ultimately unsuccessful strategy for dealing with knowledge loss. Despite the need to address this expensive issue, only 14 percent of the executives surveyed said their organizations were doing a lot about such losses.
Essential, competitive, critical knowledge is walking out the door daily, but addressing the issue isn’t a priority. The responsibility for preserving top talent expertise falls in the cracks between functions. Whose job is it — human resources, chief information officers or chief learning officers? Increasingly, CLOs are stepping up, possibly because they are best equipped
to address it given their specialized knowledge of learning and development.
Learning leaders can perform five activities to minimize the risk and expense associated with knowledge loss.
1. Ensure the team knows where deep smarts reside in the organization and which are at risk of loss or overutilization because they are rare.
2. Train experts as knowledge mentors for the next generation.
3. Help less-experienced employees learn how to pull knowledge from those with deep smarts.
4. If the need for knowledge transfer is acute and immediate, seek tools and techniques beyond exit interviews.
5. Build knowledge transfer into the organization’s DNA.
Which factors complicate knowledge transfer?
i. Inability to recognize and articulate compiled or highly intuitive competencies such as tacit knowledge
ii. Geography or distance
iii. Limitation of information and communication technologies
iv. Lack of shared and super-ordinate social identity
v. Area of expertise
vi. Internal conflicts such as professional territoriality
vii. Generational differences
x. The use of visual representations to transfer knowledge
xi. Problems with sharing beliefs, assumptions and cultural norms
xii. Previous exposure or experience with something
xv. Organizational culture non-conducive to knowledge sharing such as knowledge is power culture
xvi. Motivational issues
xvii. Lack of trust
How are Human resource management practices linked with Knowledge Transfer?
Knowledge is a key element to all Human Resources and the major reason why one company does better than the other. The more knowledgeable employees are in the organization, the more competitive that organization is. If these employees are able to share the knowledge they have with the rest of the team, the organization becomes more productive.
Transfer of knowledge helps in promoting a more decentralized structure thus increasing employee involvement through collaboration and learning. Technology will thrive well where the people there are knowledgeable and competitive. No one can handle machinery unless he/she has the required knowledge. Knowledge makes these employees more innovative and the company productive. Resistance to change is reduced when the HRs realize they can handle anything in the company and world. The HRM practices such as recruitment, selection, placement, performance appraisal, training, etc. bring gain because they are professionally handled to ensure the success of the organization.
Selection - The organization, for instance, selects people who will transfer knowledge fit guided by some explicit or implicit set of values and competencies. A manager can ensure the following for quick and successful knowledge transfer:-
i. Pay attention to the person who is transferring the knowledge and pick the right person to do that work.
Pick the person who has the experience and enough knowledge but if all the people in the organization are knowledgeable, then let all of them teach each other.
ii. Provide good tools and environments that individuals can use to transfer this knowledge.
Training – the management can train its employees in decision making, problem-solving, disaster management, etc. To be able to communicate the employees are supposed to be trained on how to articulate words properly so that they can be able to share the explicit knowledge that they have. The management and employees should be trained on how to evaluate new ideas and opinions. The management should train employees to disseminate and adopt new ideas for organizational development.
Incentives and rewards–this involves giving employees fringe benefits and monetary rewards that motivate them and this encourages the employees to generate new ideas, participate willingly and work smart.
Job security – the organizations that offer job security retain employees more. This process makes employees more willing to participate and involve themselves in the organizations’ activities.
Remuneration – competitive remunerations encourage employees to share knowledge and this, therefore, leads to better organizational performance.
Leadership and management–good leadership encourages innovativeness and transfer of knowledge.
HR in such an organization has the willingness to learn and train to make knowledge transfer even better and faster and have the ability to work as a team. The most common uses of job analysis are in setting up personnel selection procedures, test development, and validation and performance appraisal system . With the required knowledge, problem-solving techniques and decision making are well utilized. This HR professiona l will work competently with the others and with the management. In principle, knowledge transfer can be broken down into distinct stages, such as idea creation, sharing, evaluation, dissemination, and adoption
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The Essentials of Knowledge Management pp 199–212 Cite as
Transfer of Knowledge in Knowledge Management Systems: Unexplored Issues and Suggested Studies
- GP Huber 2
Part of the OR Essentials Series book series (ORESS)
The management practice literature is replete with reports of practices being used to motivate a firm’s knowledge workers to transfer knowledge into and out of the firm’s computer resident knowledge repositories, i.e., to participate with commitment in the firm’s Knowledge Management System. Unfortunately, little is known with any certainty about which of these practices have what effects under which conditions. It appears that in many cases the practices are ill suited for the particular situations where they are employed, with unknown but perhaps sizeable losses in opportunities foregone because valuable knowledge is not as fully or completely transferred as is possible. In addition, it seems that some of these practices are likely to be interfering with the effectiveness of other practices, just as some drugs interfere with the potentially positive effects of other drugs. About these matters, our knowledge is exceeded by our ignorance. The paper identifies some major problems associated with knowledge transfer, and articulates some of the most important issues associated with these problems. Eight research questions are raised that, if answered with sound studies, would enable organisations to be more effective in their transfer of knowledge.
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John S. Edwards ( Professor of Knowledge Management ) ( Professor of Knowledge Management )
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Huber, G. (2015). Transfer of Knowledge in Knowledge Management Systems: Unexplored Issues and Suggested Studies. In: Edwards, J.S. (eds) The Essentials of Knowledge Management. OR Essentials Series. Palgrave Macmillan, London. https://doi.org/10.1057/9781137552105_9
DOI : https://doi.org/10.1057/9781137552105_9
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Online ISBN : 978-1-137-55210-5
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An Easy Guide to Creating an Effective Knowledge Transfer Process
Category: Knowledge Management
Last updated on Feb 6, 2023
There’s a reason why knowledge transfer is such a popular strategy in modern organizations. For one, it can be extremely beneficial when there is a need to transfer the expertise of senior employees in your ranks to the up-and-coming.
It’s also a key component in helping employees grow and advance in their jobs.
In this guide, we’ll walk you through knowledge transfer: why it’s so important, and how to create it for effective communication.
Table of Contents
- What is Knowledge Transfer?
What’s the goal of knowledge transfer?
Formal vs informal knowledge transfer, benefits of knowledge transfer in organizations, barriers that hinder knowledge transfer in a company, how to implement the knowledge transfer process, what is knowledge transfer.
Knowledge transfer is the simple process of sharing information with someone else. It’s an easy method by which a company can transfer its know-how and expertise internally or to customers.
Knowledge transfer can be formal or informal. It is a formalized process that can be organized around several goals, such as:
- Providing training and education to internal employees
- Providing training and education to customers and clients
- Transferring technology to external parties
The goal of a knowledge transfer process is to help organizations transfer their knowledge, information, skills, and expertise from one group within an organization or one industry to another.
The difference between formal and informal knowledge transfer lies in the manner in which the knowledge is transferred. You transfer tactical knowledge when you execute informal knowledge transfer. But, formal knowledge transfer deals with the transfer of explicit knowledge .
Here’s the key difference:
Formal knowledge transfer occurs when there are written or verbal instruction manuals or procedures that get passed down from one person to another. This could happen through formal training or workshops.
In comparison, informal knowledge transfer is when there are no written manuals or procedures that get passed down from one person to another. This could be through verbal instructions, emails, or even presentations.
Knowledge transfer plays an important role in the knowledge management process within an organization. It can facilitate a structured communication process in which employees share experiences and information with others so that they can learn from it and build upon it.
Build Knowledge-Sharing Culture
Creating a knowledge transfer process establishes a knowledge sharing culture within an organization which ultimately leads to better communication, higher levels of innovation, and greater efficiency among employees and management alike
Avoid Reinventing the Wheel
Knowledge transfer allows employees to learn new skills and take on new responsibilities without having to reinvent the wheel each time. When employees learn from their colleagues’ experiences and mistakes, they can focus on developing their skills and gaining the knowledge necessary to do their jobs well.
Retain the Knowledge From Employees Leaving Your Organization
When you lose an employee, you also risk losing the valuable knowledge that they may have about your organization. But with a knowledge transfer process, you can make sure this does not happen.
By creating a knowledge base , you ensure that the right information is captured, stored, and available even after an employee quits.
Collective Knowledge Helps With New Ideas
Having a knowledge transfer process gives employees access to relevant information to make better decisions and come up with new ideas. This creates a space for innovation and encourages employees to work together and openly discuss ways to improve.
Nurture and Create a Better Learning Environment
Knowledge sharing creates an environment where employees feel comfortable sharing their ideas, thoughts, and experiences with each other. This leads to better communication within the organization as well as improved teamwork
Reduce Internship Time
With written documentation of your processes, you can incredibly cut down on training time. New hires can be trained faster and more efficiently than if they had to learn from scratch.
Employees are more productive when they have access to a wealth of knowledge. When an employee has access to the collective wisdom of their organization, they are able to make better decisions and solve problems more easily. This means that less time is wasted on research and more time is spent focusing on core tasks.
Assist Transition to Perform New Roles
You’ll agree that employers won’t struggle to fit into new roles when there’s a knowledge base . In fact, with a broad knowledge base, they would be keen to take up new challenges. It would also help your organization avoid the hard knocks of a difficult transition.
It’s true: knowledge transfer comes with a lot of benefits for your company. Sometimes, however, knowledge transfer cannot be successful due to barriers from humans and software alike.
That said, here are some barriers that hinder knowledge transfer in a company:
The lack of adequate documentation is one of the most common barriers that hinder knowledge transfer in a company. This could be a result of poor communication between employees or a lack of time for appropriate documentation.
Inadequate documentation could also happen in the transfer of tacit knowledge. Tacit knowledge is usually very ingrained in a person and it can be difficult to put it down.
Cultural and Social Challenges
Passing knowledge is more complex than handling information. And sometimes, knowledge can be challenging to accept. The difference in cultural and social views is a big factor in the success of knowledge transfer.
Often, communication challenges happen due to a lack of clarity. This could be because of poor language skills, cultural clashes, lack of trust, or lack of clarity in terms of roles and responsibilities.
With the rise of remote work and the dispersion of employees, come the challenges of transferring knowledge. Despite that, you can make the most of what knowledge transfer tools offer.
Loss of Coordination in Teams
Creating an authorization plan should take care of this. Assign someone to oversee knowledge management, and knowledge transfer would be smooth. Also, achieving your knowledge transfer goals would be a breeze when there’s a blueprint to follow.
No Authorized Plan in Place
The lack of an authorized plan is the most uncomplicated barrier to address. Create one. Then, put someone in charge; they will be accountable for management. This helps to affect the plan and make the process effective.
An effective knowledge transfer process can help you capture knowledge, structure the collected knowledge, and distribute it correctly.
But it all begins when you properly capture and organize the knowledge you intend to transfer. And there are several ways that you can do this:
The first step in the knowledge transfer process is to capture information. Capture information about ideas, concepts, and processes that are important to your organization. You can do this using a variety of methods, including interviews, surveys, and documentation reviews .
After gathering the data, organize it in an easy-to-understand format for your audience. This can be done in different ways, such as by creating detailed reports on projects.
You may also want to create visuals like videos or multimedia presentations for visual learners who might have trouble understanding written instructions.
Structure the Collected Information
Without structure, it won’t be clear how employees should use the knowledge they have. You may want to organize the information you have into categories so that employees can see how each document relates to one another as well as all of them together. This will help you find information quickly and easily.
Using a reliable knowledge-based software , you can organize your information by keywords, tags, and labels to ease the search in times of need.
An intuitive internal knowledge base software to easily add your content and integrate it with any application. Give Document360 a try!
Distribute the Information
There are several methods that you can use to distribute knowledge.
Mentorship is an effective way to share tacit knowledge. You cannot code the knowledge you need to transfer here into any document. You can best categorize them as abstract knowledge. For instance, through mentorship, new employees can learn how to interact with customers and handle their emotional responses.
2. Instructional Expertise
Instructional expertise is a quality that lies in whoever shares the knowledge. This usually comes from the skilled ability to share knowledge. Individuals with instructional expertise know how to impart knowledge by teaching. So, how can you best apply this? Hire coaches and experts that specialize in knowledge transfer from their work experience.
In modeling, you show how to do it and guide employees who need knowledge. For example, you can teach new employees to model the exemplary behaviors of current staff.
Modeling is more effective for showing than telling. When leaders are examples of the conduct they desire, transferring knowledge becomes easy.
4. Work Shadowing
Your workplace is already practicing work shadowing through internships and onboarding. But you can derive more gains in knowledge transfer by being deliberate about it.
5. Collaborative Work
It’s not particularly difficult for creative teams to become fragmented when working on a project, whether they are based on-site or remotely. Knowledge management also considers the frameworks essential to fostering collaboration within your creative team.
Don’t miss out on the massive gains in knowledge transfer from apps like Slack, Trello, and Asana. They are effective when distance is a barrier in your knowledge transfer process.
6. Knowledge-Sharing Culture
Even if you know all about knowledge sharing and transfer, what about your employees? Encourage them to understand the benefits a continuous learning culture can bring to the workplace. If nothing else, it makes their work lives easier.
7. Use tools for Knowledge Sharing
The best way to share knowledge is through knowledge-sharing tools that allow people to easily access knowledge internally and collaborate. You can use these tools to store important documents and build a knowledge database.
And when building a knowledge base, consider Document360 .
For both internal teams and customers, it is an all-inclusive knowledge base solution. Through Document360, you can easily distribute training materials, promote employee sharing of information, and encourage employees to express their expertise. You can assess team performance in sharing knowledge by using the analytics feature .
Interested in Document360 Knowledge base? Schedule a demo with one of our experts
8. Training Sessions
Internships, onboarding, and quality training remain prominent ways to make your employees perform better. Yet, a knowledge-sharing culture can implement the distribution of knowledge.
Also read: Ultimate Guide to Creating a Training Manuals
Measure the Success
The success of your knowledge transfer program will be measured by the number of people that are trained and the effect on their performance. Before implementing a knowledge transfer process, create a clear idea of what you want to achieve.
Then, evaluate the success of your knowledge transfer process by evaluating pilot programs and surveys or simply asking employees for feedback.
Once you have adequate data, use this information to adjust your strategy as needed. Regardless, you’ll benefit more from a knowledge management system.
Also Read: 7 Knowledge Management Challenges and Solutions
Brainstorm and Discover New Ideas
Knowledge transfer is an iterative process; you need to keep capturing and distributing as much information as possible. Train employees to document the discovery of new ideas or processes.
You can also take advantage of collaboration tools to capture feedback and survey tools to capture employee ideas about how best to implement new processes or policies.
These discussions provide opportunities for employees to ask questions, which helps ensure that they have all the information they need when making decisions.
Effective knowledge transfer stimulates business growth and assembles a super workforce. And with the right knowledge base and management, the possibilities are infinite.
Ready to implement an effective knowledge transfer process in your company? Book a demo call with the Document360 team to build a code-free knowledge base.
Oct 31, 2022
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Knowledge Transfer: What is it and how does it work?
February 15, 2023
Every organization, whether big or small, has collective knowledge built from the expertise and experiences of each of its employees. This knowledge is the pillar that keeps a business running smoothly, which is why it’s important that it’s properly captured, stored, and shared across every area in an organization. If it rings a bell, this method is well-known as knowledge transfer.
In this article, we’ll discuss in detail what knowledge transfer is, how it works, and the role it plays in sustaining your business’ success. We’ll also discuss how you can effectively transfer knowledge in your organization using the best knowledge management tool in the market today – EdApp.
What is knowledge transfer?
Knowledge transfer is exactly what your managers and supervisors say it is – a practice of transferring knowledge within the organization. It’s all about capturing critical knowledge such as documents, ideas, or processes, usually from the most experienced employees, and sharing it with the rest of the workforce.
In the world of learning and development (L&D), there are two basic forms of knowledge that are typically involved in a knowledge transfer plan: explicit and tacit knowledge.
Explicit knowledge is the most basic type. It’s easy to store and document that people can pick up the knowledge from simply talking to their colleagues, or reading a manual.
Tacit knowledge, on the other hand, is more complex as it involves knowledge that can’t be verbalized or written down. It can only be passed on through regular interactions, such as having an employee shadow a co-worker and observe how they complete their task.
The importance of knowledge transfer to your business
Many organizations consider knowledge transfer as an absolute necessity for sustaining their long-term business success. And there’s a myriad of reasons why it should also be part of your business system as well as your company culture. The main ones are as follows:
- It cuts down the time needed to get your new hires or interns up to speed with their roles.
- It helps in the retention of knowledge gained from previously completed projects, improving the efficiency of work on future projects.
- It gives your current employees easy access to knowledge as they transfer to a new department and take on new roles and responsibilities.
- It makes sure that crucial knowledge from a worker who is about to retire or is already leaving your team can be easily passed on to the new team member.
How does knowledge transfer work?
Planning an efficient knowledge transfer process seems like a daunting task, especially when you don’t know where to start. To help you out, we’ve put together a simple guide on how to efficiently transfer organizational knowledge among team members. We’ve simplified the procedure down into three easy steps so you can easily follow without feeling overwhelmed.
1. Identify the knowledge you want to transfer
Before you start your knowledge transfer, it’s important to first identify the knowledge you’d like to capture and share with your team. For example, did your team just finish a project? Do you want to know their solutions, and how they put them into action? Capturing and sharing this type of knowledge will save them a significant amount of time when working on the same project in the future since they’ll already have a documented process on hand.
It’s also a great idea to identify your top employees or those who everyone turns to whenever they need help with certain tasks. It would be of great help to your business if their knowledge, especially their ideas, processes, and techniques, are preserved and shared throughout the organization. This way, you won’t have to worry about losing a valuable asset if they file their resignation or retirement notice at any moment.
2. Collect and store important knowledge
Now that you’ve identified the knowledge to share with your team, the next step is to collect them. There are different ways to do so. One is to have a brainstorming session with your team. Listen to how they’ve successfully completed a project, or how they usually approach their tasks. You can save the information in a traditional way, like writing it down in a Word document or Excel sheet.
For complex information that’s a bit tricky to put into pen and paper, it would be very helpful to make use of video recording. Consider coordinating with your senior employees to record certain processes or techniques that are important to your business.
Every piece of knowledge that you’ve successfully captured and documented should be stored in a central repository like a Google Drive folder or a knowledge portal. You can also do it the old-fashioned way by printing out well-documented content, like a training handbook. What matters is that this information should be made easily accessible to your employees.
3. Transfer knowledge to your employees
After collecting and storing your organizational knowledge, you’ll need to come up with a good plan to make sure that it’s shared and transferred to the right people. For this process, you might want to consider using digital tools like Zoho and Confluence to automate knowledge sharing across your organization. Even communication platforms like Skype and Slack can be used to distribute information casually and make sure that it reaches your employees, even if they work remotely.
But, the best approach to make this process go smoothly is to invest in a knowledge management tool, like EdApp. Below, we’ll dig deeper into how you can take advantage of EdApp as a knowledge management system.
How to improve your knowledge transfer with EdApp
Microlearning is the backbone of EdApp’s learning strategy. The idea is simple: to distribute content in highly-targeted bursts. This way, learners can easily pick up and digest new knowledge without feeling the pressure that’s often associated with learning.
EdApp’s course creator tool comes with interactive templates that can help transform your learning materials into bite-sized modules. It follows a simple drag-and-drop approach and requires zero coding or design process all throughout, making sure that you can deliver your content as soon as needed.
If you’ve already done the hard work, you can even bring over your materials to EdApp’s own knowledge repository, Briefcase . Here, you can store learning materials in almost any file format, like PDFs, images, and videos among others.
Start using the best knowledge management system today! Join EdApp for free .
Knowledge sharing is also made possible through EdApp’s social learning features. Among the best ones that you might find useful is its Discussion feature, a forum-like space where learners can ask questions, clarify information, and share their ideas and opinions with each other.
EdApp also offers a virtual classroom tool, which can be used to organize live knowledge sharing with your teams, even if they’re currently off-site or remote. For a hybrid set up, you can also use the tool to display in-person meetings with the team.
Make knowledge easily available to your team by recording the live sessions and sharing them in-lesson. This way, they can always look back to the video recordings anytime they need clarification or a refresher about certain information.
Break the image of “boring training” with EdApp’s built-in gamification elements. When workplace learning feels more like a game, and not work, learners are more likely to engage in their learning journey and complete and repeat their lessons.
Start with EdApp’s game-based templates, which include the popular Jeopardy game, Elevator game, and Find-a-word game. These templates can be used to reinforce key concepts and put your team’s knowledge to the test with rapid-fire questions. To make knowledge transfer even more exciting, you can also add weighted scores or timers to your gamified quizzes. Even better, activate the leaderboard feature to initiate a little friendly competition and motivate your team to do better to snag the #1 spot.
Making your knowledge base easily accessible to everyone in your organization is the key to successful knowledge transfer. You’d be glad to know that all lessons published on EdApp are made in a format that works on almost any device that your team might prefer, including laptops, tablets, and smartphones. They’re available in offline mode, too. This gives your employees the flexibility to access their learning materials whenever and wherever they choose, whether they’re in the office, on the road, or off-site – even when they’re not connected to WiFi.
Every time there’s a significant change in any of the critical areas of your knowledge base, it’s important to keep your employees informed. Doing so will allow them to continue adhering to the best practices and put your company ahead of the competition for years to come.
For that matter, EdApp’s course creator tool can definitely help you out. This tool conveniently works in real-time, meaning, any updates you make will be applied automatically to your learning materials. Learners, on the other hand, will be notified of course changes or updates via emails or push notifications on their smartphones.
Jen is a learning expert at EdApp, a mobile-based training platform that helps corporates and businesses bring their training solutions to the next level. She carries an extensive writing experience in a variety of fields, including architecture, the gig economy, and computer software. Outside of work, she enjoys her free time watching her favorite series and documentaries, reading motivational books, and cross-stitching.
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How to Make Your Knowledge Transfer Plan a Success
One of your team members is getting ready to leave your company. Your organization doesn’t have a formal knowledge transfer plan, but the team member finishes their deliverables in their last two weeks, facilitates hand-offs where necessary, and heads out the door. After they leave, you realize your team doesn’t know how to complete a process that the departing employee always handled, or you have a burning question that you’re pretty sure only your former team member can answer. This leads to project bottlenecks, inefficiencies, and slower onboarding for new team members as you struggle to fill the knowledge gaps.
Now imagine this scenario playing out every time someone leaves your company or transitions to a new team. It’s no wonder that the average large US business loses $47 million in productivity per year due to inefficient knowledge sharing.
Developing a proactive knowledge transfer plan can help your business avoid the headaches–and the substantial cost –of lost knowledge. Below, we’ll take a closer look at what goes into a knowledge transfer plan and how you can develop one that is repeatable, efficient, and built into a knowledge-sharing culture.
What is a Knowledge Transfer Plan?
In the workplace, knowledge transfer is defined as the process of storing and sharing employees’ institutional knowledge and best practices. A knowledge transfer plan is a documented approach to capturing, preserving, and sharing three different types of knowledge :
- Explicit knowledge: Knowledge that is easy to articulate and write down (e.g., step-by-step instructions to complete a process).
- Implicit knowledge: The application of explicit knowledge (e.g., best practices an employee has learned from completing a process).
- Tacit knowledge: Knowledge gained from personal experience that is more difficult to express (e.g., skills an employee developed while completing a process.
Implementing a knowledge transfer plan will prevent knowledge loss when tenured employees leave. It will also help you establish a central source of company information, where all employees—whether they are new, experienced, on-site, or remote—can access up-to-date company knowledge.
And because employees will always know where to find accurate company information, you’ll minimize the time employees spend searching through emails, files, and Slack messages to find the information they need, therefore boosting productivity.
Here are five steps to creating an efficient and effective knowledge transfer plan:
1. Define the Knowledge You Need to Keep
If you haven’t given much thought to what information you should make available to your team or how to capture and provide access to it, there’s no time like the present.
Begin by carefully considering what kinds of knowledge are useful to people every day—from simple information, like how to log a customer service call in your CRM, to more complex knowledge, like the best strategies for responding to tough customer objections throughout the sales process. If you don’t identify this information, you’ll not only fail to ensure processes and behaviors are consistent across the organization, but you’ll leave documentation to chance and risk losing valuable knowledge every time someone moves on.
- To identify the most valuable knowledge, ask yourself a few questions:
- Who are your top performers and subject matter experts?
- What do these employees know that others don’t?
- How does your organization or team handle tasks when these employees are out sick, on vacation, or otherwise unavailable?
- What information do top employees know that others ask about most?
- How is this information saved, if at all?
In other words, if your most valuable employees put in their notices tomorrow, you need to make sure you know exactly what knowledge would be leaving with them. Then, you need to create a process to preserve it.
2. Create a Process for Transferring Knowledge
Beyond determining what knowledge needs to be documented, you also need to consider how to save it. You will need a process for preserving both simple (explicit) knowledge and complex (implicit and tacit) knowledge.
Transferring simple knowledge
First, let’s take a look at how you can transfer simple knowledge. This refers to anything that fits into the following categories:
- Information that can be written down
- Information that is easily shared through a quick conversation
- Information that can be saved in its native format (such as a Word document, Excel spreadsheet, or PowerPoint presentation)
In this case, capturing and saving information is relatively straightforward. It’s simply a matter of choosing a searchable knowledge management platform that supports a wide range of file types and then uploading existing knowledge assets, or creating new knowledge documentation directly in the platform.
Transferring complex knowledge
Of course, not everything is simple. And, often, it’s the more detailed knowledge that’s the hardest to recover or recreate after a veteran employee leaves. Usually, it falls into the following categories:
- Information that is hard to write down
- Information that comes from a person’s experiences and observations
- Information that requires a lengthy conversation or simulation to explain
A good example of transferring complex knowledge is documenting customer service calls so future employees can refer to them when handling complicated issues. This may require you to record calls and save them as audio files, videos, or chat transcripts. Complex knowledge may also require images, graphs, charts, and other visual elements for context.
Regardless of whether knowledge is simple or complex, it’s crucial your company is capturing valuable information in a useful format. And to do this, you must empower employees with a knowledge transfer plan to follow, which should outline when, where, and how to save information appropriately. Otherwise, individual processes can vary widely. For example, you may have someone on your market research team who carefully and methodically documents every detail about every project—more information than anyone could possibly access or use efficiently. And at the same time, you may also have an employee whose work style is just the opposite, relying on memory and documenting a minimal amount of information.
You can’t blame employees for a poor knowledge transfer outcome when there’s no specific institutional guidance for what they should pass along or a well-defined method for recording it. By investing time and effort to create a single, standard process, you can ensure reliable, seamless knowledge transfer across the organization.
3. Choose a Knowledge Management Platform
Once you have a clear idea of what information you want to retain, look for technology that will support your goals without putting an unnecessary burden on your employees. Company efforts to preserve knowledge often fail because management expects employees to determine what to save without providing sufficient guidance, processes, or tools. For example, without a good plan, programs like Google Drive or SharePoint can quickly become disorganized and impossible to navigate.
On the other hand, knowledge management technology that requires little effort to save information eliminates many obstacles to successful knowledge transfer. A good knowledge management platform will enable you to standardize and automate how information is saved while also making it as easy as possible for people to share what they know.
With so many employees saving and sharing information, it’s critical you choose a solution that allows you to identify duplicate content and ensure the most up-to-date version is available to employees. In addition, an effective knowledge management platform will enable you to save and share information in a variety of formats, including text, charts, images, audio, and video.
Remember that even the best solution in the world won’t be effective if you’re not providing employees with a comprehensive knowledge transfer plan. Similarly, the best plan can still fail without proper technology to support it. By marrying these two elements together, you can foster better habits and ensure you’re keeping the most important information within your organization.
4. Assign Knowledge Admins
While a knowledge management platform can take a lot of the heavy lifting out of organizing and sharing employee knowledge, it’s still a best practice to establish content owners and admins who can:
- Ensure employees are documenting their knowledge.
- Update content (or identify the right people to update content) when information goes out of date.
- Encourage employees to use the knowledge management platform to find and share information.
These admins don’t necessarily need to have “Knowledge Manager” in their title–they may be team leaders, training managers, or even subject matter experts who are responsible for owning specific topic areas in the platform. The important thing is assigning clear responsibility so that your organization’s knowledge transfer and management efforts don’t fall through the cracks.
5. Use Your Technology for Ongoing Knowledge Transfer Efforts
The knowledge within your company is always growing and evolving, and your knowledge transfer plan should reflect those changes. And in addition to a solid plan and the right technology, you also need to ensure you’ve developed a strategy to support your company’s knowledge transfer throughout its evolution.
Once you have a knowledge management platform in place, make sure you empower employees to use it to its full potential. Beyond documenting and saving information, encourage your employees to use the tool to find the information they need on a daily basis and familiarize themselves with their new resource. Make sure you’ve selected a solution with a robust search engine and Q&A features so your employees have one place to turn for answers instead of repeatedly asking subject matter experts the same questions.
A good knowledge management platform should offer various support features to ensure knowledge is shared when employees are promoted, move departments, or leave the organization altogether.
When comparing knowledge management systems , be sure to look for a solution that supports the following:
Your platform should allow you to organize onboarding documentation , ongoing training materials , and other professional development resources in an easily digestible format so employees can revisit the materials whenever they want or need to.
Mentoring programs give veteran employees opportunities to pass along what they’ve learned to future leaders and to capture the knowledge they’ve shared. While mentoring will likely involve in-person or virtual one-on-one meetings, it can also be incorporated into your knowledge management platform.
All too often, newer employees have to rely on more senior team members and subject matter experts to answer the same questions, which can be inefficient for everyone involved. When senior employees answer questions and share best practices in a knowledge management platform, it helps democratize information so this knowledge isn’t reserved for just company veterans.
You may not be looking for an internal social media platform for employees, but a knowledge management platform that incorporates certain social elements (such as the ability to like, bookmark, comment on, and share content) can help keep people engaged and provide a feedback loop so you know what content is most popular and where there may be knowledge gaps.
In many cases, new employees are paired with more experienced employees—and often, they’re learning by watching that employee do their job. At a certain point, they may no longer have access to the wealth of knowledge from the person they’re shadowing. A knowledge management platform doesn’t have to replace in-person shadowing entirely, but it should serve as a safety net should a new employee still have questions once they’re on their own.
How do you handle an irate customer? What do you say to complex objections from a new prospect? Often there are certain things employees can only learn through experience. But a knowledge management platform gives team members a way to document those experiences and guide others through them through a sort of “second-hand learning.”
Don’t wait until the next time a tenured employee leaves and takes essential information with them to start the knowledge transfer process. Start thinking now about the knowledge you want to preserve and how technology can help you achieve your goals.
Note: This blog was most recently updated and expanded in June 2023.
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The Basics of Modern Knowledge Transfer for the Enterprise
What Is Modern Knowledge Transfer?
Who benefits from modern knowledge transfer, modern knowledge management examples, how to encourage effective knowledge transfer, what is a knowledge transfer plan, how to create a knowledge transfer plan, knowledge transfer platform checklist, find support for your knowledge transfer plan.
A systematic approach to knowledge transfer is vital in the enterprise. It can provide an up-to-date repository of existing knowledge that can be accessed and expanded by new and longer-term employees. And it ensures that essential knowledge is retained after employees leave the company.
Let’s review the basics of knowledge transfer and knowledge transfer plans, how modern knowledge management systems have evolved, and ways you can apply these principles in your organzation to drive innovation, improve efficiency and accelerate your sales cycles.
Knowledge transfer is the process of sharing information from one part of an organization to another, typically for solving problems or working toward a goal more efficiently. It's an essential element in any knowledge management strategy.
Historically, these systems have focused on building documentation for centralized storage. They weren’t always easy to use for the experts contributing to them, much less the people who needed to access that information.
Modern knowledge management systems are designed to help you move beyond mere documentation of knowledge and toward seamlessly capturing real-time knowledge in the flow of work and putting it to work across the enterprise.
While knowledge transfer is essential across organizations and industries, modern knowledge transfer can be especially beneficial for sales teams, help desks and research and development (R&D) by providing critical, time-sensitive knowledge to teams quickly.
For sales teams, effective knowledge transfer can improve sales efficiency , leading to a higher volume of deals and accelerated sales cycles. Inevitably, customers will have questions for your sales team that require additional information. With a modern knowledge transfer system, your team can quickly respond to the customer’s request with relevant information. Knowledge management systems can also improve internal sales effectiveness by creating a way for high-performing sales reps to share best practices with the team.
Help desks can also enjoy wide-ranging benefits from modern knowledge transfer systems through by reducing ticket volumes for standard, repeatable questions. Such tickets can be easily resolved or even prevented if there is access to readily available knowledge. When your employees can access on-demand answers to common questions, your subject matter experts are freed up to be more available for tougher or unique challenges. This has benefits both for overall cost control and employee retention.
Modern knowledge management platforms can also improve R&D efforts by accelerating innovation and time to market. Today, many R&D teams are dispersed, making communication and collaboration between teams more difficult and creating “micro silos” that prevent knowledge transfer. Modern knowledge management improves timely access to technical information between colleagues, saving time on duplicated work and shortening innovation cycles.
Knowledge transfer systems can streamline development time by reducing the time spent “reinventing the wheel” or searching for answers.
Dräger, an international medical and safety technology company, creates products that can literally save lives. But, survey responses indicated that their salespeople were spending far too much time searching for information and internal experts instead of selling and working with customers. The company partnered with Starmind to provide faster access to the knowledge that teams need, identify experts to help spread the knowledge-transfer workload and ensure each question only needed to be answered once. Read the full case study.
Swisscom AG, a major information and communications technology provider in Switzerland, wanted to develop a modern, innovative open-book working culture. With nearly 20,000 employees, it was imperative to find a way to easily share tacit knowledge. Swisscom AG partnered with Starmind to provide its team with a companywide tacit knowledge platform powered by artificial intelligence (AI). Read the full case study.
PepsiCo R&D, a division of an American multinational food and beverage corporation, needed a more efficient way to connect team members with the knowledge to develop and launch products faster. Beyond the need for a greater speed to market, the way the company worked had changed and team members were more separated than in the past, making it a more difficult challenge to communicate and share knowledge efficiently. The company partnered with Starmind to create a more modern process for collaboration and knowledge sharing. Read the full case study.
Effective knowledge transfer requires processes and technology that make it easy for everyone to contribute knowledge and access it.
Foster a Culture of Openness
People need a safe place to ask questions at work, and they want a place to share their knowledge, research has confirmed .
Encourage an environment of knowledge-sharing by making knowledge sharing part of your company values. Encourage feedback from employees so you have a better understanding of where you can improve your system and build on success.
As you build this culture, keep in mind that hierarchies and assumptions about who should speak up and or fears about not knowing something can sometimes hold people back. Help your team members overcome those hesitations by offering a way to raise questions anonymously.
Upgrade Your Knowledge Management Platform
Knowledge management systems aren’t uncommon within enterprise organizations, but adoption and outcomes have often been disappointing.
Assessing the processes and technology you already have in place is a crucial first step toward effective knowledge transfer at your organization. This helps you understand your knowledge flow and discover gaps to fill.
And you’re very likely to discover big gaps: Up to 80% of knowledge within an organization is undocumented or intangible, which is why the old style of knowledge management platform that focused on documentation falls short.
Modern systems encourage capturing knowledge in the flow of work, and real-time employee knowledge sharing allows your team to continue to access and build upon existing knowledge through interactions with their colleagues.
Adopt a knowledge management approach that makes critical information readily available to everyone to increase productivity, efficiency and overall employee satisfaction. This can help establish greater communication and knowledge sharing between departments, break down knowledge silos and encourage cross-functional collaboration .
A knowledge transfer plan provides the framework for how an organization shares knowledge. These plans help organizations capture and store existing knowledge and make it available on demand. Uses include streamlining onboarding processes and retaining valuable knowledge without it being tied solely to individual employees.
There’s a good chance your organization already has a knowledge transfer plan, but when was the last time someone reviewed and updated it?
The process for creating a knowledge transfer plan can vary based on the needs and goals of your organization, but the fundamental steps can be broadly applied across industries.
Identify and Capture Knowledge
The first step in creating an effective knowledge transfer plan is to determine what sources of knowledge your organization has and how that knowledge will be collected. Identify subject matter experts. Focus on the unique and distinct knowledge these experts have. Consider this question: If your most valuable team members left the organization, what gaps in knowledge would they leave behind?
Once you’ve identified this knowledge, you’ll need to establish a way to capture, store and share it efficiently. This process should be sustainable and not place unnecessary admin burdens on your team. Avoid trying to obtain all of your organization’s knowledge at once. Instead, integrate knowledge sharing into regular workflows that are consistently updated.
Set Clear Goals
When establishing a knowledge transfer plan, it’s important to manage expectations and set clear goals for the initiative. Every organization’s challenges and needs are unique, so you’ll need to determine what a successful knowledge transfer plan looks like for your organization and how you’ll identify measurable results.
While there’s not a standard metric for evaluating knowledge transfer performance, you can establish benchmarks and goals based on your organization’s overall need for knowledge transfer. This can help you identify knowledge gaps, as well as other challenges and achievements as they relate to knowledge sharing.
After you’ve identified and determined how you’ll collect knowledge, and you’ve set measurable goals, it’s time to choose a knowledge transfer platform.
Look for a platform with these features:
- Runs automatically, so knowledge is always relevant. Keeping knowledge up-to-date includes discarding information that is outdated.
- Integrates into your current workplace systems , so employees don't need to leave an app they're in to search for knowledge. Instead, knowledge is brought to them.
- Harnesses knowledge through AI in an ethical, appropriate way.
- Offers access to FAQs immediately, while routing novel issues to the best experts.
- Retains tacit knowledge.
The primary goal of knowledge management is to improve efficiency and productivity while effectively managing the knowledge and experience of employees to increase the workforce’s overall knowledge.
By developing a knowledge transfer plan, you can create a culture that values learning and collaboration while continuing to collect and build upon your organization’s knowledge.
Remember, knowledge management isn’t a static project. As your company evolves and grows, your knowledge and experience can be captured and used to scale with it.
Connect with our team today to learn more about how a modern knowledge management platform can improve your organization’s knowledge transfer efforts.
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