Knowledge Transfer – What it is & How to Achieve it?

Knowledge Transfer - Everything You Need to Know

Organizations face the risk of knowledge loss when talented employees retire, resign, or are sacked. 

The insights and expertise they gain during their tenure is an enormous asset. In an interdependent work culture, this knowledge loss may lead to a more inefficient workforce and potentially broken internal processes. 

You might have seen managers hustle at the last minute to ensure a smooth handover process when a key employee leaves. 

But, is this official handover enough to capture all of the valuable knowledge possessed by that employee? 

Most of the time, you’re just able to scratch the surface! 

That’s where Knowledge Transfer steps in. It is a continuous process that involves storing, managing, and sharing employees’ institutional knowledge on a centralized platform. 

Read this blog to learn everything about Knowledge Transfer: 

  • What it is and why it’s important
  • How to create a knowledge transfer plan 
  • How to bring knowledge transfer to action 

Knowledge Transfer Explained

Knowledge transfer is a process that maintains a consistent flow of information across teams. It involves capturing, storing, and circulating department-specific information, subject matter expertise, details about processes, and much more. 

That’s not all, it assists you in translating employees’ experiences and knowledge into words and visuals that can be shared across teams. Regardless of who leaves and who joins, the knowledge stays with you forever. 

There are various types of knowledge transfer such as mentoring, coaching, training, documentation or knowledge base, job shadowing, and much more.

Why is Knowledge Transfer Important?

Embracing the system of knowledge transfer can bring you innumerable benefits. Here are some of the most significant ones:

  • Provides employees with instant access to critical business information
  • Reduces the chances of employees repeating old mistakes
  • Cultivates a knowledge-sharing environment in your organization
  • Speeds up employee onboarding as new hires can gain quick access to expertise

Most importantly, a knowledge transfer system treats employees as valuable assets, whose subject matter expertise matters to everyone. With your workforce having access to critical knowledge and personal experiences of key employees, there is a good scope of inspiring innovation in different departments. 

To bring knowledge transfer to action, you first need to have a solid plan that gives you a defined path to follow.

How to Create a Knowledge Transfer Plan

A knowledge transfer plan lays the foundation for transferring knowledge effectively across your organization. It gives you a defined path to channeling your efforts and achieving the maximum results from your knowledge transfer initiatives.

Follow these simple steps to create a powerful knowledge transfer plan –

#1 Set Clear Goals

This is the very first thing you need to do while creating a knowledge transfer plan. To gain clarity regarding your goals, ask yourself questions like: 

  • Are most of our employees on the verge of retirement?
  • What is the percentage of new employees in the organization?
  • Is the existing knowledge sharing system not efficient?
  • Is there a lack of innovation in some processes?

Analyze the current state of your business, come up with more questions, and wear your thinking hat to reach the right answers.

This will help you come to a conclusion as to why exactly you need a knowledge transfer system. For instance, if a substantial portion of your employees is going to retire in the next three years, you will need a knowledge transfer system to capture and preserve their wisdom.

#2 Identify the important knowledge holders

These will most likely be employees holding critical positions in your company and those working with you for a long time. Knowledge holders can also be the lower-echelon employees who are new to the industry but have unique insights that can be useful for your organization. 

Track the previous performance of employees, their contributions in respective departments, and the credentials they hold, to identify your key knowledge holders. Make a list of these individuals and give them the opportunity to share their wisdom. 

#3 Decide the Knowledge Transfer Platform

An ineffective knowledge transfer system will not help you preserve the critical knowledge held by your employees. You should have a dedicated platform where leading knowledge holders can share their learnings and expertise regularly. 

An online knowledge base or company-wide wiki is one of the best mediums you can choose. It’s a great way to capture, store, and share knowledge. You can give writing and editing rights to specific employees, and they can contribute their knowledge on this online platform from time to time. 

The best part is that an online knowledge base can be accessed via mobile phones, empowering employees to share their wisdom from wherever they are in a hassle-free way. 

For building an awesome knowledge platform, all you will need is knowledge base software that offers content authoring, designing, and publishing features. Besides, the knowledge base tool you use should help you scale your knowledge platform as the inflow of information increases. 

This video will give you complete information on how to choose the best knowledge base tool –

#4 Make Employees Familiar With Your Knowledge Transfer Platform

If employees aren’t acquainted with how your knowledge transfer platform functions, they will resort to the same old methods of finding the information they need. The conventional methods of asking questions via emails, calls, or in-person will continue and your investment to implement an online knowledge transfer system will be futile. 

Therefore, you need to focus on training employees on how to use your knowledge platform. Ask department heads to take training sessions and make their teams aware of the benefits of using the knowledge portal. Explain to employees how they can be more productive and innovative if they make good use of this system. You can take sessions with your teams and demonstrate how and when a knowledge transfer system can be used. 

Accepting changes is difficult at first. Once your employees are aware of the benefits of your knowledge transfer system and are accustomed to using it, there will be no looking back.  

#5 Match the Results With Your Goals

Keep a constant eye on the kind of results you are getting from your knowledge transfer system. Look at the goals you had set in the beginning. It can be anything from making the work process easier for new employees, enhancing the existing business processes, or igniting innovation across departments. 

Review the results from time to time to understand the effectiveness of your knowledge transfer system. It will help you identify bottlenecks in your current process and make the required alterations.

Let’s now look at how you can bring knowledge transfer to action.  

How to Achieve Effective Knowledge Transfer 

For systematic knowledge transfer, start by creating a knowledge sharing culture where employees come together and share their knowledge and experiences. Next, you need to document, organize, and improve this knowledge from time to time. 

Let’s look at these steps in detail. 

#1 Collect & Store Information

A knowledge-sharing culture is crucial to the success of organization-wide knowledge transfer. 

Focus on initiating activities that promote this culture. Put efforts to bring your teams together and ask them to share their expertise and experiences. You can organize brainstorming sessions, ask for solutions to business problems, and involve subject-matter experts in the process. Take insights from department heads and those who have been working in your organization for a long time. 

You can create an online self-service knowledge portal and encourage your employees to use it for documenting this information.  

A knowledge portal can be created easily, provided you use the right software. Search for some good knowledge base tools that offer a wide range of features. You can also check out ProProfs Knowledge Base software. It’s a simple tool with powerful features that helps you create a stellar knowledge base in no time. 

Read Also: How to Create a Knowledge Base: Step by Step Guide

#2 Organize Your Knowledge Base Content

Once you have documented the information in a knowledge base, start organizing it. Create broad categories and subcategories and put relevant content in each section. Do not crowd your knowledge base with unstructured content. It will lead to confusion and increase the struggle of employees to get the right information. 

Create short paragraphs, use bulleted lists, and write crisp headings for each section. You can cross-link related Knowledge base articles to drive readers to a relevant page and make information-gathering utterly seamless. 

Related Read: 8 Knowledge Base Content Type for Your Business

For your knowledge base to deliver information at lightning-fast speed, its search system should work as smoothly as Google. Employees should get instant content suggestions by typing a keyword or a question in the search bar.

HighQ’s knowledge base is a perfect example here. It has a Google-like search system that provides suggestions instantly.

Create a searchable knowledge base
Image Source

#3 Share Knowledge With Multiple Teams 

The primary purpose of creating a knowledge transfer system is to make your business knowledge conveniently accessible to everyone. For that it’s crucial that you give the access rights of your knowledge base to multiple teams. 

For instance, you can provide the access right of the sales knowledge base to marketing and support divisions, since all these departments are interconnected. Access to your HR knowledge base can be given to all your employees, as everyone will be interested in knowing the latest HR policies, changes happening in the current policies, and much more. 

If you want to make your knowledge base available only to specific individuals or teams, you can do that too, provided you have the right knowledge base tool

For example, ProProfs Knowledge Base has a simple system that allows you to control the access rights of different teams and individuals. You can use that to ensure that your knowledge platform is visible only to a few selected employees.

knowledge base access permission control

#4 Measure Knowledge Base Success

The next step is to understand the effectiveness of your knowledge base content. If it’s helping employees enhance their subject knowledge and work efficiently, that’s great. If not, it means your knowledge base needs considerable improvement. 

The ultimate goal of Knowledge Transfer is to capture knowledge from key employees and create a factory of valuable information. If you don’t update this information from time to time, it can turn stale and useless. 

You can prevent this from happening by keeping a constant check on your knowledge base performance. A powerful knowledge base tool can prove immensely beneficial here. It gives you actionable insights into: 

  • Articles rated poorly by employees
  • Keywords that fail to deliver accurate results
  • Broken links that hamper the search experience of employees
  • Total number of searches and much more

Use this data to understand what your employees are looking for and whether they are finding the right answers. Find the knowledge gaps existing in your content, identify articles that are outdated, and need improvement. On the basis of your analysis, ask your department heads or subject matter experts to revise irrelevant articles, and create educational content on the topics employees are searching for.

Knowledge Transfer: The Secret to Reducing Knowledge Loss

Knowledge transfer is not a one-day process. 

It requires time and consistent efforts to capture the vast knowledge held by key personnel in your organization, store it, and make it accessible to your workforce. 

Start by creating a solid knowledge transfer plan. Set clear goals, identify the important knowledge holders in your organization, choose the platform to transfer knowledge, and train your employees to use it effectively. 

Get these things right, and you will have a fully-functional knowledge transfer system ready. 

Use ProProfs Knowledge Base to reduce knowledge loss and create a collaborative, aligned, and informed workforce.

Frequently Asked Questions –

1- What does knowledge transfer mean?

Knowledge Transfer is a process that involves collecting, storing, and sharing employees’ knowledge on a centralized platform that can be accessed by anyone in your organization.

2- What is the knowledge transfer process?

The knowledge transfer process involves employees at various levels to share their institutional knowledge gained during their work tenure with everyone in your organization.

3- Why is knowledge transfer important? 

Knowledge transfer is important to make valuable information easily accessible to everyone in your organization and create a knowledge-sharing work culture.

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About the author

Brayn is a knowledge management expert. He has been published in CustomerThink, PointVisible and Apruve. As a customer support specialist at ProProfs, Brayn has been instrumental in building a robust knowledge base and documents that help support executives keep every customer delighted. You can catch up with Brayn on Twitter and LinkedIn.