Global Workforce Effects on Knowledge Transfer

Virtual Team Management

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ROSALINDA P. BERNABE
Kiwami Japan KK

This session will provide insights on knowledge transfer using a virtual team-base scenario to describe how projects, programme, portfolio, and operations working within organisations tend to have information but very little and inconsistent knowledge that is transferable and can be used by another team member, irrespective of location.

By the end of this session, you will learn how to leverage existing tools and techniques for knowledge transfer that is useful to share across virtual team members.

Keywords: virtual team management, managing across cultures, knowledge transfer

INTRODUCTION

This paper will offer value to the reader, as it can be used by practitioners for work, especially on how to motivate team members by using the techniques discussed and leverage tools to further demonstrate knowledge management.

A compilation of information is more important than describing what the session contents are in this white paper because it can be leveraged for various different usages or for communicating a different message, depending on the author's intent. How tools and techniques relates to enhancing knowledge transfer and enhancing virtual team management will be shared on the presentation and session itself. Knowledge Transfer is essential to increase the quality of work and illustrates your capabilities as a resource within the organisation.

Lastly, as one practitioner to another, it is critical that you balance between benevolent leadership by sharing knowledge with others and maintaining your competitive edge as a professional in the field of project management.

STRUCTURE OF THE WHITE PAPER

This white paper is structured in the following manner:

A) Today's work environment provides the premise on current working conditions in most multinational corporations.

B) Workforce models and their usability for human resource departments and current needs of the organisations to provision resources (i.e., people) based on their strategy and implementation of initiatives as a demand and supply component of resource management.

C) Knowledge management tools and techniques whose applicability will be determined by the project manager's people-oriented problems to solve knowledge and/or information related issues. These are also useful for furthering team-building across organisations, irrespective of location or medium.

D) A brief research on the history of knowledge management, the life cycle or components of knowledge and/or information, and the subsequent conclusion of the author, as it relates to workforce, or people, in knowledge transfer and the environment we work within.

TODAY‘S WORK ENVIRONMENT

The proliferation of the internet and advances of technology has truly made our working environment global. A marketplace without boundaries and hyper connected organisations allows the utilisation of resources across the globe and in different mediums that both foster benefits and challenges to the working people.

In today's environment, it is very common that we worked in a virtual environment and our colleagues are multi-cultural. One aspect of managing the organisation is that the IT systems are being supported by the follow-the-sun model where globalisation and technology advances are bringing value, the challenge is how does the team members use information across this medium effectively as there is only 8-hours of work and time zone differentials among other factors will drive gaps that ensure the work is getting done as should be, and minimizing the loss of re-work due to inadequate knowledge transfer.

The Economic growth will be almost linear due to increase cost of living, the effects of negative interest rates, which means that resources will be utilized most where wages are lower comparative to other developed countries and where knowledgeable workers are available. Thus, work will be mostly across the globe, multi-cultural, and one of the side effects will be that knowledge is disperse, and transferring this especially on project-based environments will be difficult.

THE WORKFORCE MODEL

Modelling is the process by which the need for skilled workers at a particular point in time (i.e., demand) is matched directly with the availability and preference of skilled workers (i.e., supply). Adoption of a workforce model is usually found in industries that have complex work rules, skilled or certified workers, medium to large teams of workers, and fluctuating demand such as healthcare, public safety, and project management.

There is a terminology called demand management, Portfolio Resource management which allocates the resources of an organisation based on the priorities of the work required to be done. This framework allows resources to be assigned temporarily (such as projects) and transfer the resources where the required skill sets are needed in other business areas (demand).

Resources are then required to do the work to complete their assignments and at the same time transfer this so that the next person can utilise the knowledge and use this to do the portion of the work that is related to the prior work completed by other members within the organisation.

As the priority is to complete the work assigned to them and secondary is to do the knowledge transfer, the most prevalent tool to use for transferring and retaining information is through project libraries. This, has been proven to be ineffective in the long-run as those viewing the information are overwhelmed with the amount of data and what is useful or not takes actually longer than was desired by the people who implement the knowledge management system, in this case, the project library.

KNOWLEDGE MANAGEMENT TOOLS AND TECHNIQUES

Many organisations have spent a lot of effort to alleviate the problems of knowledge transfer due to change management such as changes in organisation structure (resulting in the movement of people), policy that will affect systems, and processes that will result in lost or incomplete requirements that impact other areas of the organisation.

The most common solutions available to the organisation and its people are techniques that can be leveraged to gather information and therefore knowledge and gain team spirit to enhance work productivity and decrease the challenges faced by the resources.

The second solution is the augmentation of knowledge sharing via the implementation of tools, such as data management systems, intranet websites, among others.

KNOWLEDGE MANAGEMENT TECHNIQUES: EXHIBIT 1

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Exhibit 1: Knowledge transfer techniques.

INFORMATION-SHARING TOOLS AND PRACTICES COMMONLY USED IN ORGANISATIONS

  1. Social network services (Salesforce Chatter, Microsoft Yammer, Jabber)
  2. SharePoint
  3. Company website
  4. Shared online database
  5. Intranet database
  6. File transfer protocol
  7. Paper-based, including manuals or run books
  8. Face-to-face
  9. Email-based
  10. Handed-over document and never uploaded in common shared drive/website
  11. Contained in a persons’ head
  12. Knowledge management system (this can be the same as SharePoint)
  13. Configuration management systems

HISTORY OF KNOWLEDGE MANAGEMENT

Knowledge Management is a very costly organisational initiative, and most of the solutions does not work as designed because knowledge management systems faces deterrents to successful utilisation.

Failure of knowledge management can be categorised into two areas, the first one is due to organisational and environmental issues that are required to implement knowledge transfer successfully. The second category can be labelled as the symptoms that drive the organisation and environmental issues.

Failure of knowledge management can be categorised into two areas, the first one is due to organisational and environmental issues that are required to implement knowledge transfer successfully. The second category can be labelled as the symptoms that drive the organisation and environmental issues.

ORGANISATIONAL FAILURE PAIN POINTS

  1. Lack or wrong performance indicators and measurable benefits
  2. Inadequate management support (stakeholder/sponsor)
  3. Improper planning, design, coordination, and evaluation
  4. Inadequate skill of knowledge managers and workers

GENERIC SYMPTOMS THAT AFFECT KNOWLEDGE TRANSFER

  1. Lack of widespread contribution
  2. Lack of relevance, quality, and usability
  3. Overemphasis on formal learning, systemisation, and determinant needs
  4. Improper implementation of technology
  5. Lack of responsibility and ownership
  6. Loss of knowledge from staff defection and retirement
  7. Hoarding of knowledge from others

Knowledge transfer is a term used to encompass a very broad range of activities to support mutually beneficial collaboration between different people, especially within work environments. It is all about the transfer of tangible and intellectual property, expertise, learning, and skills, recognised as a driving force for enhancing economic growth and societal well-being.

CONCLUSION

Companies will continue to use technology to augment the productivity of their resources and also to ensure that information is not lost. However, having the tools and techniques in place is not enough to drive a successful knowledge management system.

The reason is that a knowledge management system is useful only during its lifetime, and can be useful to the next era or duration (such as when the project is resumed after a four-to-six-month delay and some project teams are new) only if the person/s or systems are capable of linking the old information to the new, for it is the ability of the person who is the determinant of any successful endeavour. The environment (the corporation we work with) might be a factor in whether a resource will fit into the overall strategy and implementation, but it is the adaptiveness, and the motivation of an individual to first increase their knowledge, and their benevolent leadership qualities to share knowledge willingly; knowledge transfer will also only work if the recipient of that knowledge can apply it.

For management or the CEO who ensures the company's financial survival, this is not acceptable. The solution is an ongoing combination of technological systems in place and revamping these same systems to reflect the required knowledge appropriate for that specific time duration and an active collaboration between systems in place and the people working within the organisation.

Due to the high cost of maintaining such systems and processes, this is good news for practitioners. Like everything else in life, the ability to adjust and extract the required information or knowledge and the ability to apply it at the opportune moment is a talent that cannot be measured in monetary terms, because it has both elements – personal satisfaction and financial rewards.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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She is one of the top bilingual resources with a career track record since 1992 and has built a strong foundation working as a consultant. Her chosen career path is to provide strategic implementation of projects to the end client or customer.

Rosalinda Bernabe is a project management specialist working as a project manager for infrastructure, regulatory, and best practice implementation projects in the financial services industry in Japan.

CONNECT WITH ME!

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The Impact of Negative Interest Rates in our Financial Sector [Japanese language]. (2016). ZDNet Japan. Retrieved from http://japan.zdnet.com/article/35079098/

This material has been reproduced with the permission of the copyright owner. Unauthorized reproduction of this material is strictly prohibited. For permission to reproduce this material, please contact PMI or any listed author.

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© 2016, Rosalinda Bernabe
Originally published as part of the 2016 PMI® Global Congress Proceedings – Barcelona, Spain

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