What is Knowledge Transfer?
Knowledge transfer is a process of spreading good ideas or knowledge from one person to another. It is replicating wisdom and expertise of employees and placing it into the minds of co-workers. Knowledge transfer seeks to ensure its availability for future users.
Once upon a time, companies would train their staff in advance, or hire permanent employees to provide the domain knowledge. Today’s fast pace makes such an approach difficult. More and more large and medium sized enterprises hire contractors and face a risk of losing expertise once they walk out of the door. Organisations need to find a way to develop their in-house knowledge.
Why knowledge transfer is crucial when contractors leave
Losing knowledge may cause the lack of oversight of a project, the loss of critical support and uncertainty about where to turn for help. In the worst case scenario, the lack of experience leads to the project stalling.
Knowing who knows what, who needs to know what, and how to transfer that knowledge is critical in a company — especially when so much of a company’s worth consists of information. Some organisations find the solution by incorporating knowledge sharing into the contracting relationship. As SAP consultants carry out their role, they begin to pass essential knowledge on to the project team, equipping them to continue with the project after the SAP consultants leave.
Barriers of Knowledge Transfer
There are several things that might make knowledge transfer process difficult between SAP consultants:
- Underestimating the value of sharing experience.
- Lack of incentives or rewards.
- Lack of clarity of knowledge share policy in the company.
- Lack of willingness and ability to transfer the knowledge.
- Fear of losing their contract.
Benefits of Knowledge Transfer
The more SAP consultants are aware of the advantages of knowledge transfer, the more willing they would be to share their wisdom. There are many benefits of expertise transfer. Firstly, when transferring knowledge, SAP consultants work together in a highly collaborative and interactive way. Secondly, mentoring opportunities are being developed. Moreover, sharing knowledge opens a flow of thoughts and creates opportunity for new ideas to be born. Lastly, the value of learning from the past is appreciated while sharing expertise with colleagues.
Efficient knowledge transfer
To make the knowledge transfer process more efficient, a company should understand that creating a trusted environment is crucial. SAP consultants themselves should feel encouraged to share their knowledge with their co-workers.
According to Thomas D. Davenport, a professor of University of Texas at Austin, communication between individuals is very important when it comes to sharing experience : ‘Successful knowledge transfer involves neither computers nor documents but rather interaction between people’.
To Knowledge Transfer or not to Knowledge Transfer?
As SAP consultants ourselves having worked on SAP projects for the past 20 years as contractors, we firmly believe sharing the knowledge gained on a project is vital and nothing to be concerned about. It is a two way street, in so much so that there needs to be a process, time and most importantly people to knowledge transfer to. When you think about it, why not to share your wisdom? Plenty of contractors transfer their knowledge expecting recognition, or out of a sense of altruism. By sharing experience SAP consultants get more than lose because their collected experience is not forgotten but shared with others.