Knowledge Transfer Key Component In ‘Accelerating Productivity’

February 16, 2016

Knowledge transfer is becoming an increasingly salient issue as baby boomers leave the workforce for retirement and their wealth of institutional knowledge leaves with them. But it is a key area companies need to tackle to maintain business continuity and accelerate their productivity daily.

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Leadership, when broaching the topic of knowledge transfer with employees, usually face hurdles as employees feel threatened by having to share their job’s ‘trade secrets’ with others.

“It is true. Knowledge transfer is met with mounting resistance as people are afraid their jobs are being eliminated,” said Paul Pinto, Vice President of Banking, Financial Services & Insurance Consulting Services at Digital Intelligence Systems, LLC (DISYS). “These employees hold their information tight to the chest, hoping their vast knowledge will keep them employed and safe from reorgs or layoffs.”

Mr. Pinto, who is a seasoned professional with more than 30 years of relevant leadership experience in the ITO and BPO industries, has established 9 centers of excellence across the globe in the last 12 years, where knowledge transfer has emerged as a critical success factor.

While this is a most uncomfortable subject for companies to tackle, knowledge transfer must take place in order for a business to continue to operate smoothly should an employee get hit by the proverbial bus on his way to work.

“There is no true way to take away the stigma or uneasy feeling knowledge transfer gives to employees who have been with a company for a great period of time,” Pinto said. “But companies can ease this information out of their pillar employees in order to make sure continuity of business is maintained.”

This has become a staple part of doing business in the case of American Express, who in the last 6 years has instituted a pilot program to glean information from its soon-to-be retired employees.

As outlined in an article, “Retiring Employees, Lost Knowledge,’ published on Bloomberg, American Express designed and carried out knowledge transfer programs within two of its most sensitive divisions – IT and finance – in order to make sure expertise wasn’t lost on the younger workforce.

The article states as knowledge transfer was on the minds of high executives, the company assembled an internal team to anticipate problems and pose solutions stemming from the demographic shift in workforce.

“Before long, the group made an important discovery,” the article states. “ … The company had done little to retain the wealth of institutional knowledge that would be taken from them when key employees became eligible for retirement.”

Jim Rottman, Vice President of Human Resources and others came up with a phased retirement plan, allowing seasoned professionals within the organization to mentor and transfer valuable information to the new up-and-comers.

“It is an easy sell to senior employees,” Rottman said. “It allows them to pursue their personal passions while (still) working a modified schedule and it allows them to leave their legacy behind for the next generation of leaders and experts.”

Within DISYS, Pinto and his team take a knowledge management approach to information transfer – building out learning systems for companies who utilize DISYS’s managed services.

“Most companies just think of the transfer of knowledge as a transaction between two individuals,” Pinto said. “But at DISYS, we think of it differently. We transfer the knowledge we have collected about a company’s valuable practices and processes into a learning system.”

Pinto further explains that during engagements, this learning system becomes a full knowledge base that is ever-changing so it can grow with the business. DISYS’ knowledge transfer learning system becomes a tool that contains learning and knowledge ‘nuggets’ that can be retrieved at any time and are utilized for training.

“Your job may contain 30 pieces of information that someone needs to master to be able to perform business-critical work,” he said. “We look to design it around those items then build that into a learning system – it could contain videos, webinars, whitepapers, blog posts, diagrams – even just a few paragraphs of information in a word document – we take everything and sustain it in the system so it can be accessed and transferred to whomever needs the knowledge. That way the experience stays with the company, not the employee.”

This form of knowledge gathering is a little less threatening than giving knowledge from person to person, as people are asked business critical questions and it is then placed into the system.

“It becomes a repository of how and why a company does business,” Pinto said. “And in turn, trains employees across multiple business disciplines so no one is held over a barrel should an employee be absent or leave the organization.”

Of course, this type of system is constantly maintained and growing – as a business changes and grows. “It makes us less dependent on individual’s institutional knowledge and allows others to become subject matter experts,” he said. “Systems (like the knowledge management system DISYS implements) help organizations accelerate their productivity and grow their business as their knowledge and understanding of the marketplace grows.”

About Digital Intelligence Systems, LLC (DISYS)
Digital Intelligence Systems, LLC (DISYS) is a global managed services and staffing firm committed to ‘Accelerating Productivity’ on each and every client engagement.  With 33 offices worldwide specializing in Managed Staffing Services, Agile Services, Application Development Services, Business Intelligence Services, Cloud Enablement Services, and Enterprise Resource Planning, DISYS’ vision is to be a global business partner, delivering the highest quality and most consistent services at the best value to clients worldwide. For more information about DISYS, visit