Knowledge assurance

No one is irreplaceable - but when specialists leave a company or a company succession is imminent, the topic of knowledge retention moves to the top of the priority list. After all, knowledge is an intangible but nevertheless central resource, and not all the information that team members use in day-to-day operations is always available to everyone.

Experienced specialists have a major influence on a company's value chain. Sometimes this only becomes apparent when they are not there: Suddenly there are big question marks when knowledge about processes, workflows, maintenance or repair procedures is not generally accessible, but is exclusively in the memory of employee X.

The outflow of knowledge from the company costs time and money, namely when knowledge carriers leave the company. A concept for safeguarding knowledge should be in place by then at the latest, but preferably well before.

In the following article, we take a closer look at the topic of knowledge: How do you deal with the know-how of your own workforce, do you already have internal knowledge repositories?

We clarify fundamental questions and provide tangible suggestions so that you can create a solid framework for knowledge assurance and knowledge management for your company.

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Why secure knowledge?

Experienced and well-trained specialists are hard to come by these days - and sometimes hard to keep. However, on closer inspection, they are often the key to corporate success and have a major influence on a company's value creation. The intangible value of knowledge and experience is still underestimated. The extent of this problem becomes apparent when key employees and their knowledge are absent for a short or long period of time and their knowledge has not been secured and distributed as part of an ongoing knowledge management system.

The head monopoly - when companies fail to secure knowledge in good time

The phenomenon is called a head monopoly: managers or specialists have valuable know-how in their heads, but unfortunately only there. Team members who have been assigned to certain areas for years know internal procedures, machines and processes like the back of their hand. As long as they are on site and able to work, this is very helpful. But as soon as such a person is absent, the head monopoly is an entrepreneurial risk that directly costs the company money and can jeopardize entire projects.

A head monopoly arises when the distribution of knowledge is missing or is not carried out consistently. For example, when employees undergo further training but are the only ones in the company who apply the know-how they have acquired. Specialists who are always on hand when particular problems arise make the entire process dependent on themselves. There is a lack of written documentation on certain processes - no one can retrace and repeat this later.

In order to avoid the risks of the head monopoly, knowledge retention and knowledge management should therefore ensure that knowledge can also be accessed by others - through documentation, regular refresher courses and ideally also through suitable digitalized processes.

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Staff turnover and baby boomers

A certain amount of staff turnover is probably a given in every company. Particularly in times of a shortage of skilled workers, attractive competitors lure the odd skilled worker, and the risk of replacement is high. If you don't have a knowledge backup, you first have to find someone with the right skills.

In addition, many of the baby boomers are about to retire. They are often repositories of business-relevant knowledge that could be lost with their departure. The general risk of ageing and illness is another reason why continuous knowledge retention is necessary. A specialist on whose knowledge processes depend can be absent just as spontaneously as any other employee.

Keeping know-how within the company: Your challenge

There are therefore numerous reasons why the knowledge and information that your employees possess could be lost. The challenge is to initiate a process of consistent knowledge retention and knowledge management so that you can contain the risks of know-how loss. This will keep your company operational, even and especially in times of rapid technological development and digitalization.

Is knowledge assurance an urgent issue for your company?

Then we will be happy to advise you.

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What do we mean by knowledge?

Knowledge means more than just information, facts and data. Here we differentiate between explicit knowledge, which is accessible and articulable for everyone, and tacit knowledge, which only exists in the minds of individual employees. The latter is at the heart of successful knowledge management, because we want to safeguard this implicit know-how.

In general, knowledge includes:
  • Skills and experience of employees
  • Technologies
  • Processes
  • Information on customers, suppliers and the market situation

Some of it is stored in such a way that everyone who needs it has access to it, while others are not. As knowledge also evolves and is expanded by changes or new information, knowledge management is an ongoing task for every company.

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Knowledge management - measures and methods for practice

In the digital age, we now have a whole range of efficient knowledge management measures and methods at our disposal. It is part of the administration, or more precisely, the management, to find the appropriate method and to ensure that the safeguarding of know-how is also carried out on an ongoing basis. After considering the needs that exist in this area, practical tools are then established that can communicate, document and distribute knowledge.

The following measures to secure knowledge are among the most common:

  • Retaining staff with specific knowledge, so-called key personnel, in the company - this method is quite cumbersome and there is always a risk of emigration, illness or retirement. Even if it makes sense to retain key personnel, this method is not sustainable as the only tool and is also too cumbersome.
  • Ensure knowledge transfer within the company: Training and documentation of processes using digital tools can help here. In this way, you avoid the head monopoly and secure more than just the basics of existing knowledge, but also specialized knowledge.
  • External training to maintain and build up knowledge: An additional measure that can help to maintain and update existing knowledge and build up additional knowledge.
  • Internal and external networking: Successful communication contributes to the distribution of existing knowledge among many people. For example, it can help customer employees if they have access to the knowledge of outsourcing partners.

Is knowledge assurance an urgent issue for your company?

Then we will be happy to advise you.

Request now

Knowledge management with examples from the company: the tepcon instructor as a building block

How to secure knowledge

  • identify
  • secure
  • distribute

Our "digital employee", the tepcon instructor, is a good example of a tool for securing knowledge within the company. No matter which topics you want to tackle in the company, which products you want to sell, which work you want to make transparent for your successor: The Instructor secures information and makes it clearly and comprehensibly available to everyone at all times. For example, work instructions can not only be found quickly when they are needed. They are created beforehand, step by step, in a comprehensible and comprehensive manner, in line with the topics being worked on. For example, you can save maintenance procedures, store instructions for operating machines, document changes to processes and make them accessible to other team members.

Take advantage of our many years of experience and let us explain in more detail how the tepcon instructor can help you with knowledge management.

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