A project management services company uses contractors extensively to deliver its services. The company serves a niche market in the utility sector. As the contractors are free to pick up work to fill their capacity, there is no guarantee that they would stay with the company. Subsequently, special knowledge is lost. Clients have raised their concerns especially when the assigned contractor requires additional hand-holding.
The loss of trust in the client’s mind doesn’t bold well. For the company, the lost knowledge requires retraining. Both have ripple effects. This problem is not unique with businesses which use contractors. It arises with employee attrition also. Knowledge is a strategic asset and it needs to be captured and made accessible to others.
While it is not feasible to capture everything, you need to identify the critical know-hows. Here are a few examples of what is critical:
- Customer facing support activities
- Core business processes
- Management of exceptions
- Rationale for business strategies
- Business rules
- Regulatory and other business compliance requirements
The above knowledge might be captured in different documents such as process maps, strategy plans, job aids, business cases, and business requirements for new solutions design. It is important to have a central repository for them so that they are easily accessible when required.
The information also provides excellent background information when business situations call for a change or decision. Employees save time because they won’t need to find the ‘expert’ who possesses the knowledge. Work carries on without coming to a halt. Informed decisions are made because the past learnings are available for consideration.
To treat knowledge as a strategic asset, you need to identify, capture the knowledge and make it accessible. Each business area needs to assign a person responsible for ensuring that a consistent approach is adopted. Otherwise, archived knowledge that is inaccessible has no value.