Successful business continuity depends on a culture of knowledge sharing and collaboration.
Continuity is vital for every business. Disruption comes in many forms, and while you might think of natural disasters, fires, and other external forces, the elements for disruption may be internal, lurking in your IT department. All it takes is one key person to call in sick, go on vacation, or resign, and there’s a yawning gap. Next, a mission-critical app or platform becomes unusable, but only IT team member X knows how to fix it.
That gap is a knowledge gap. It’s putting all your eggs in one basket. It’s a lot to put on the shoulders of team member X, and there's no way to run or shape an IT department. Knowledge transfer is a required process of transitioning knowledge from one person to another. It requires identifying and utilizing adaptable skills and abilities among team members.
Knowledge transfer in IT can be tricky and requires finesse. Proper standard operating procedure (SOP) development for knowledge transfer in IT is essential to grow and develop team members and protect your company from disruptions. Challenges exist, but your knowledge transfer plan can overcome these with a robust strategy, solid SOP development, and some help from a trusted partner.
Common obstacles to knowledge transfer in IT
The obstacles to knowledge transfer exist in every business and department. However, in today’s digital world and cloud environments, there’s nothing more disruptive to a business than IT problems. Before starting SOP development for knowledge transfer in IT, you must understand the barriers and how to overcome them. In a survey, 75% of respondents said that knowledge sharing delivers a minimum 20% ROI.
- No time
The fast pace of business leaves little time to implement change. Your IT team may feel that knowledge transfer is something they don't have time to do and see it as an extra burden. Try scheduling a weekly or monthly meeting, conducting learning sessions or developing an online course.
- Resistance to change
It’s time to share the benefits of knowledge transfer. Emphasize how you can distribute this work more evenly. Team members can take time off knowing they aren’t going to get a phone call while they’re in the Bahamas. And don’t forget to mention opportunities for promotions.
- Don’t want to participate
Some people just won’t want to take part in the process. This can be because of perceived time constraints, or they may be a “knowledge hoarder” who feels job security lies in their supposed indispensability.
Give these employees the recognition they (and you) feel they deserve. Call them out in internal communications. Give them credit for any contributions they make to the knowledge transfer. This will give them the recognition they crave and the clout they want and motivate them to continue participating.
- Job security anxiety
This ties into wanting to refrain from participating. Some fear you will no longer need them if they share their knowledge.
Others – the knowledge hoarders – want to hold tightly to what they know to outperform their colleagues. Again, give credit where credit is due and give them what they really want: recognition for a job well done.
Last barrier is making things unnecessarily complicated when you perform SOP development for knowledge transfer in IT. So, how do you simply, effectively, and practically transfer knowledge?
Effective SOP development
Knowledge exists in mind, and a different approach is needed since we don't have the means for a Vulcan mind meld. There are multiple methods to disseminate knowledge – telling, writing, or showing, and because people learn in different ways, you will want to use a variety of approaches and tools.
- Identify risk areas and key stakeholders
This requires a structured Q&A with each team member to find unique knowledge areas. Where lies the most risk? Which team members are in the best position to receive the knowledge transfer? Prioritize risks for the knowledge transfer and then decide what information is most important and to whom it gets transferred.
- Break down priorities into bite-sized tasks
Now it’s time to sit down individually with each expert for a deep dive so you can get the complete picture of the work they do. Help them divide their knowledge into manageable tasks they can deliver in a reasonable time frame.
- Train to teach
Only some people are natural teachers. You might have to do some coaching and some mock teaching sessions.
- Knowledge transfer
This may take weeks or even months. Be sure to establish a timeline to keep everyone on track.
Then it’s time to measure and test the knowledge transfer. Use metrics that include staff engagement, determined via surveys, and staff adoption – are team members using the knowledge? You’ll always want to measure knowledge quality. Are things improving? Can the receivers of knowledge move ahead confidently?
IT is a hands-on profession; the best practice is to have the transfer receiver work under the expert's supervision to ensure knowledge transfer quality.
Developing a knowledge-sharing culture
Now is a prime opportunity to create a knowledge-sharing culture where employees work collaboratively instead of competitively. Such a work environment boosts employee engagement, develops group knowledge that prevents IT disruptions, and creates a solid departmental culture.
Creating a knowledge-sharing culture will discourage knowledge hoarding, make IT staff feel more secure in their positions, and increase productivity. Building such a culture requires an open-door policy, active encouragement, and employee rewards.
The role of technology
This is IT, after all. Do you have any type of knowledge management system? Creating a knowledge-sharing platform or a cloud repository will keep information organized and easy to find, and it is essential to establish and improve sharing culture, collaboration, and communication.
Knowledge sharing is an essential tool for any business. No one wants to be told their task or project can’t be completed because someone is out of the office. Redundant coverage is essential to keep your business on track and prevent disruptions.
At Allari, we can help you implement a knowledge transfer in IT by providing staff augmentation. We take tasks off your IT plate, so your in-house staff has the time to learn and improve. At the same time, we can build you a knowledge platform that’s easy to use and accessible from anywhere.