A Guide to Efficient Knowledge Transfer: Keeping up with the Evolution of Consulting

When a company is constantly evolving, there are internal obstacles encountered every day on the job front. One common problem is the transfer of knowledge from a seasoned employee to a new hire – and this is especially true in the consulting industry. If employees possess skill sets that allow them to be interchangeable among different projects, teams are always changing.

When a consultant leaves a project and is replaced by another employee or a new hire, the project suffers a certain level of lag due to insufficient knowledge. The only solution is a knowledge transfer, which can be a challenging process. In such cases, it is important to establish preventive measures to ensure a more efficient way of conveying expertise from the departing team member to the new one. Here are 4 ways this can be done:

1. Document procedures for convenience and clarity

When a consultant moves on to pursue other projects, they take their knowledge and any other skills they contributed to their former team with them. The project then suffers from an operational standpoint, losing an important asset, and, consequently, valuable knowledge. To avoid this substantial loss, companies should strive to retain the achievements their employees contribute by integrating their work into a system, which will reap long-term results.
Usually, when the time comes for an employee to transfer their responsibilities to someone else, they find it difficult to explain tasks that have become mundane, everyday activities over time. When completing even the simplest tasks, have employees log detailed steps of the workflow that will allow someone else to do it the same way, if not of higher quality. The clearer and more specific the directions are, the easier they are to follow. Report any problems or challenges faced so that other employees know how to tackle them in the future. Also be sure to focus on the fundamental tasks of the job, i.e. the basic responsibilities. If the employee is aware of what they are primarily looking for, the process is simple; create a detailed, uniform procedure that lists the certain crucial points that need to be explained.

With changing technology, today’s world offers multiple ways to simplify data storage and communication. Offering storage space and access from any location with an internet connection, the cloud is the perfect place to save information for present and future use. Given this, take advantage of your ability to review and edit documents stored in the cloud. If the procedure changes, be sure to update the log.

2. Personal introductions inspire trust

When a new member joins a project, make it a point to conduct introductions, especially if the employee is replacing someone who is leaving. This can remedy the awkward social gap between the new member and the existing team.
Knowing of a person and knowing a person are two entirely different concepts. When you know the person, you combine a face with a name, immediately establishing familiarity. Facial recognition generates a feeling of comfort and personal introductions facilitate a sense of trust. When trust forms among colleagues, new employees will find it easier to integrate themselves into the work environment, while existing employees will be more welcoming.

Additionally, the consultant-to-client aspect of the project is crucial. Make sure to fully inform the new team member about the current client, preparing them for any interactions they may have with them in the future; when the time arises, introduce them to the client on a personal level to initiate a sense of trust.

3. Allow for overlapping days

Often times, it is easier to learn something new by actually carrying out the task, or even watching someone else do it. Many recruiters like to see shadow or assistance experience on a resume, because there is a lot you can learn from observation.

When you hire a new employee or re-assign an existing employee to replace a team member, allow for a few days when the current team member and the new team member are in the office at the same time. This may yield an intern/mentor-like relationship for a few days, but the process produces results. Learning something from someone who merely teaches it is nothing compared to learning it from someone who has utilized the material, day in and day out.

4. Create an organic structure

Finally, integrate all members of the team in the decision-making process in order to form an organic structure. An organic structure promotes a wider span of control, meaning more people are involved in the decision-making process. This allows all team members to be included in every aspect of the project, and builds a stronger team and a successful work environment where members can interchange positions. When this culture is present, new employees can receive help from any of the employees involved in the project and quickly be incorporated into the team; and if an employee is unexpectedly transferred to another project, it’s easier for a fellow team member to pick up the slack.

Microdesk is a rapidly growing technology and software consulting firm that is innovating project delivery for architects, builders and engineers. For more information about our services, training, or product offerings, call 800.336.3375 in the U.S and 0044 7482 758 910 in the U.K.