Companies grapple with the fact that knowledge employees have acquired over the years is not documented or stored anywhere. There is always a person who rises to the occasion and the issue on hand is resolved. These methods or solutions worked well ten years ago when the systems were not integrated and world was not hyper-connected. Today, our customer wants answers to their questions instantaneously.
This need to respond to customers requests and deliver on the Customer Experience has forced the organizations to rethink their customer strategy. In order to achieve customer success, it is important that your resources whether they are on-shore or remote are empowered and trained well.
While knowledge management and knowledge sharing are critical when on-boarding and training new employees locally the importance of Knowledge Transfer and Sharing is highlighted especially when an organization decides to launch an Outsourcing project.
In this article, we will discuss the challenges organization face when on-boarding a remote team from a knowledge sharing and training perspective. Organizations can reduce this risk through the lessons I have learned over the years by working in various organizations and from running PerfectQue with 200+ resources in Europe and Asia.
Documentation, training materials, manuals, FAQ, system documentation, operational procedures are not a top priority when an organization has limited resources or the team is too busy to meet the current deadlines. While everyone understands the need and importance of these documents its only after years have passed that an organization starts thinking about documenting its systems or processes. The tools available today have made this task of creating such artifacts a lot easier but you still need resources to document and manage this knowledge. This knowledge repository becomes even more critical when an organization decides to launch an outsourcing project.
Explicit knowledge is knowledge that can be documented, saved in some form of media and knowledge base and can be shared with other resources. It is the tacit knowledge which an employee has acquired over the years that cannot be transmitted to another person without a long period of contact or by working closely with the team. Most organizations focus on the explicit knowledge but its the implicit knowledge that is key to customer success.
Cultural difference also plays an important role when companies are outsourcing or on-boarding a remote team. In North America, it is a norm to look into another person’s eyes and speak to him/her. However, in some parts of the world it is considered rude to look into another person’s eyes and speak especially when it’s a manager/subordinate relationship. Similarly, there is a concept of personal space where you don’t stand to close to person.
Other factors that impede the knowledge transfer include language barrier, time zones, skills of an individual hired to conduct the job.
It is critical for the success of any outsourcing project that the various phases of project are in-sync with the knowledge transfer project plan.
Knowledge Management should be an independent activity depending on the size of the organization. Appoint a Single Point of Contact who is responsible for managing and sharing storyboards, specifications, process and procedures, communication protocols and other required documents with your Outsourcing partner.
Do not make any assumptions as things that are common knowledge to you might not be clear to the remote team. It is the implicit knowledge and the knowledge of culture, language and other colloquial factors that are not easy to transfer. Organizations that do not have a plan or the resources who can impart this Implicit knowledge to remote teams will not able to deliver the customer experience that your customers expect.
It is the responsibility of the vendor to ensure that resources that are hired for the job are qualified and have the knowledge (explicit), skills, and language fluency to deliver the service or product which is being outsourced.
What I tell organizations when they want to hire a software developer or a customer experience resource is that the first resource you bring on a project should be a senior resource who has experience working with North American teams. This might add a little cost to your project but the benefit far outweighs the associated costs.
“Your First Experience should be the Best Experience when you are Outsourcing.”
Once the Knowledge transfer has been completed the next step is to conduct a Go-Live Preparedness Check.
The Service Provider should have a Go-Live check list to ensure that all the systems, resource access, system connectivity have been tested once before the go-live date. From the Knowledge Transfer and Human Resource perspective the following should be completed:
1. Resource Readiness Evaluation
2. Resource Certification
3. Learning Management System Testing
4. Role Playing
5. Team Exercises
6. Quizzes and Written Test
Conducting the above will ensure that only those resources that have been certified are deployed on the project and those who need further training are coached and trained further.
During the operational phase it is important that the principles of Continuous Improvement, Coaching & Training, Evaluation and Feedback are followed. This will ensure that the remote teams are trained and any knowledge gaps that are discovered in the initial phase of the project are incorporated into the existing Knowledge Base.
In order to reduce risk and ensure a successful implementation of an outsourcing project organizations should pay special attention to the knowledge transfer aspect of the project. Without a proper knowledge transfer plan in place, an outsourcing project is either going to fail or the project is going to achieve limited success.
If you are planning to outsource or have an existing service provider then don’t forget to ask them about their knowledge transfer plan.
The project Outsourcing Planning Guide will help you launch your Outsourcing Project successfully.