An employee has just announced he’s leaving the company, and one question springs to mind: how do you ensure that his knowledge is capitalized on and shared with colleagues? Unfortunately, that employee usually doesn’t have time to pass along a neatly organized playbook, and this can lead to serious brain drain once he’s left your company. Many organizations are confronted with this problem. Avoiding this is simple: you need to create a knowledge capitalization process and keep a knowledge base.
Capitalizing knowledge requires identification, documentation, and preservation of all company knowledge, including best practices and employee feedback. This process makes information more accessible, facilitates onboarding and training of new employees, improves decision-making, facilitates collaborative working, and boosts company performance.
For all these reasons, 75% of organizations believe that knowledge capitalization is essential—even indispensable—for their development.¹ So, how do you formalize and ensure that this knowledge gets passed along to your new recruits? Follow these best practices to ensure that your team stays in the know.
1) Define your challenges and objectives
To develop knowledge capitalization, you need to think strategically. Start by assembling a team that can support you throughout the project—and in particular help you conduct interviews. Then identify the issues that are hindering your teams’ productivity. For example, are they having trouble…
- understanding who does what within the organization?
- formalizing their work processes?
- finding the right information they need to achieve their tasks?
- sharing information with other teams (internally or externally)?
- training new employees?
- making decisions quickly?
- working together seamlessly?
- responding quickly to external requests?
- understanding and anticipating customer needs?
Depending on everyone’s feedback, you may choose to prioritize certain topics more than others (access to knowledge, process documentation, knowledge transfer, team collaboration, etc.). This will help you define your objectives and key success indicators.
For this step, use the OKR (Objective and Key Results) method. This strategy will not only allow you to align your teams’ objectives with those of the company, but also to make them more concrete by defining the key results needed to achieve each of those objectives.
2) Create a knowledge capitalization process
Now it’s time to roll up your sleeves and create a process to capitalize on all the knowledge you’ve collected! In this process, you’ll need to define:
- what knowledge needs to be documented
- who’s involved (the whole company, or just a team or department)
- which elements need to be documented (defined objectives, common pitfalls, best practices, lessons learned, results achieved, contacts made, frequently used forms and other documents)
- who should document them, whether it’s a knowledge management coordinator, team managers, or all team members
- where knowledge should be capitalized (such as on a collaborative platform, shared storage space, or knowledge base)
- how to capitalize (via a content page in the library, a slide deck, a video, a methodological guide, or a checklist of best practices)
- who should have access to the knowledge (all employees, or only a limited number)
- How often this knowledge should be updated
Setting up such a process will enable you not only to identify the knowledge you need to preserve, but also to clarify the way in which this knowledge will be collected. It will therefore be essential for getting your project off the ground, and ensuring optimal knowledge management over the long term.
If you’ve hired a Knowledge Manager, he or she can take on the task of collecting, analyzing, and organizing everyone’s knowledge (by doing interviews, for example). If nothing else, the easiest method is simply to ask each team to record all their knowledge and best practices.
3) Implement appropriate solutions
Knowledge management tools
The next step: deploy the right tools to implement your knowledge capitalization process. Depending on your needs, you can implement:
- a knowledge base (or company wiki): a complete library of content for centralizing all your organization’s knowledge (about your product, services, work processes, and more)
- an online drive: for storing and sharing your team’s documents so you can access them wherever you are
- a data visualization tool: allowing your team to create top-quality graphs and thus unleash the full potential of your data.
- a CRM (customer relationship management): the aim of this type of software is to facilitate customer relationship management by centralizing your customer data and automating your sales processes (email dispatch, contact segmentation, etc.).
- an enterprise social network (or intranet): where you can bring together all your employees and internal resources. More than just a place to store information, this is above all a place to exchange ideas, streamline internal communication, and develop employee commitment.
- a project management tool: this is the essential software for staying organized in all circumstances and centralizing all the essential knowledge for streamlining your teams’ projects.
- a self-management tool: this will help clarify roles and processes within the organization, bringing greater transparency and team autonomy to all. This is what the Holaspirit software offers.
Talkspirit: the collaborative platform that centralizes your knowledge
If you want to rationalize your applications, a good compromise may also be to opt for a collaborative platform with integrated knowledge management functions. This is what Talkspirit offers, a made-in-France collaborative tool that allows knowledge sharing, boosts internal communication, and facilitates collaborative work.
The platform includes:
- a collaborative suit for storing, sharing, and co-editing documents
- a library that allows you to capitalize on your knowledge in content pages
- a shared calendar and project management module to centralize your events, meetings, and team projects
- channels to push the right information to the right person
- a news feed and home portal to feature and showcase your key news
- a directory to facilitate employee networking and share expertise
Of course, there’s nothing to stop you from using Talkspirit in conjunction with other knowledge management tools. The key is to clarify the function of each tool so that everyone knows where to share information.
4) Formalize your knowledge
Twenty-nine percent of employees questioned in a Deloitte study believe that it’s difficult, if not impossible, to extract the knowledge they need from their data storage tools. That just goes to show that having the right tools in place isn’t enough: you also have to use them properly! Your knowledge capitalization process will be your best ally in organizing your knowledge and recording it with the proper tools. (There’s a reason we told you it was essential 😉.)
To save time, the ideal solution is to create a template that everyone can use to capitalize on their knowledge in consistent ways. All teams should complete this template, and in particular, they should specify:
- what the team’s work processes are
- roles, responsibilities, skills, and knowledge
- which projects they’re working on, and with whom (internal and external)
- best practices for successful projects
- where and how knowledge is stored, and to whom it’s accessible
Formalizing all these elements will improve the capitalization of knowledge and the level of transparency within your organization. So, you won’t have to spend hours looking for information!
5) Organize transfer of knowledge
Your knowledge is written down in black and white. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that your employees have assimilated it. To prevent your knowledge from being forgotten, it’s important to ensure that it is passed on.
According to a BVA study for Salesforce, 54% of employees believe that companies don’t attach enough importance to this issue. Here, then, are a few practical tips on how to ensure knowledge capitalization in the workplace:
- Create an internal communications strategy to highlight your knowledge management tools and processes, and ensure that all employees use them.
- Start a self-help group where everyone can ask and answer questions. You can create such a group on a collaborative platform like Talkspirit!
- Create communities of expertise to facilitate knowledge sharing on specific topics.
- Set up knowledge-sharing rituals, for example:
- training sessions, during which experts share their knowledge.
- bringing together members of each community of expertise through networking events.
- a “did you know?” minute integrated into your regular meetings, during which one or more employees share acquired knowledge.
- Encourage employees to take regular self-training courses and external training courses. Then ask them to record what they have learned in your knowledge management tool.
- Try reverse mentoring: this training method involves transferring knowledge from junior to senior employees.
- Regularly update your training and induction resources to integrate new knowledge acquired by your teams.
Finally, don’t forget to reward those who lead by example! For example, why not offer a prize to the employee who has acquired the most know-how or skills in the company? Or acknowledge the employee who has passed on the most knowledge to colleagues?
All these initiatives will help make knowledge capitalization a reflex for everyone and create a culture of sharing within your company.
6) Audit your practices
Ensuring knowledge capitalization requires effort and continuous monitoring for companies. To stay up to date, you need to regularly monitor your KPIs (you know, the ones you set when you drew up your strategy😉). These may include:
- number of processes formalized in your knowledge management tool
- percentage of employees who regularly use this tool
- number of employees trained by a colleague
- time wasted looking for information
To complete these KPIs, it’s ideal to regularly question your employees, in particular via surveys. By combining your figures and verbatims, you’ll be able to effectively measure the progress of your project, identify potential dysfunctions and, if necessary, change your knowledge capitalization practices.
Organization is the number one skill when it comes to capitalizing on company knowledge. From defining the issues at stake, through the implementation of a dedicated solution, to the transfer of knowledge, all these stages require a high level of team coordination. It’s only by working together that you can capitalize on everyone’s knowledge, experience, and skills.
The better this knowledge is shared, the more effectively teams can work together. This makes knowledge capitalization a key lever for collective performance. And it’s far from the only one… Talk to our team today to discover more tools and best practices to boost your company’s performance!