In Part 1 of this post, we learned companies that do not capture institutional knowledge are likely to experience inefficiencies in both costs and productivity when employees leave the workplace.

According to the Panopto Workplace Knowledge and Productivity Report, much of the inefficiency following an employee’s departure is caused by colleagues spending an average of 5 hours waiting for coworkers to fill the void created by the loss of institutional knowledge.  This reflects time spent either waiting for vital information from their colleagues or working to re-create existing institutional knowledge, and is estimated to cost $47 million in productivity each year.

This wasted time translates into delayed projects, missed opportunities, frustration among employees, and significant impact on the bottom line.

Seizing the Opportunity to Capture Institutional Knowledge

Many large work places have no formal plan for capturing institutional knowledge and sharing it throughout the organization.  While informal conversation regarding work and projects is valuable in other ways, failing to preserve institutional knowledge as a more formal construct is a disservice to employees and the company itself.

Imagine you are part of a business development team from which three client services managers have recently departed.  You are now responsible for creating a proposal to a new client.  You understand from various conversations in the past that there are five different templates available to draft proposals, and that each template has various refinements and tweaks.  Because the template expert has left the company, you spend the next 3 hours trying to track down people who can help you determine which template you should use.  Recognizing that time is of the essence and with no response from your emails and calls, you put the proposal into the template that seems to make the most sense, which takes another 3 hours.  The following morning, you receive an email directing you to a different template, and you spend the next 2 hours converting the proposal from one template to another.

But what if the scenario was different?  Imagine how much time you’d save if were able to log into an enterprise-wide system that utilized a video to walk you through the templating process.  Or if your department had instituted a shared library of templates with complete instructions regarding the appropriate use of each template?

You Can Lead the Way!

The Panopto report queried the 1,001 respondents as to whether they felt that capturing organizational knowledge was an important process.  More than 60% of the respondents reported that they would prefer working for an organization that has a plan in place to preserve institutional knowledge and that organizations who fail to support such a culture are making a mistake.  Notably, 85% of the respondents believed that knowledge sharing is important or very important.

There are ways that you can begin the process of transferring knowledge from your own head to a company- wide audience:

  • You can start by posting your work flows, tools, and documents to a shared department drive, rather than on your hard drive.
  • Ask a colleague to make a simple video that captures you explaining a certain task or workflow.
  • Find like-minded employees in other departments and establish a community of practice, where you share your best practices and then create a log that is searchable on a shared drive or Intranet.
  • Ask your in-house training/leadership group if there are ways you can share content via a learning management system.

While preserving and sharing knowledge can’t guarantee success in the market place, companies owe it to themselves to recognize the importance of capturing what their employees know before it’s too late.  It’s good for the bottom line—and for employee satisfaction.  What could be better?

Explore Copyright Clearance Center’s solutions for information and knowledge professionals. 


Author: Jill Shuman

Jill Shuman is a former Director of Product Engagement at Copyright Clearance Center and currently a CCC Consultant. She is also an adjunct faculty member at Tufts University School of Medicine, where she has taught courses in grant writing, searching biomedical literature and expository writing. Prior to her role at CCC, Jill headed up the corporate library and Knowledge Management Centers at Shire, and also served as a healthcare research analyst and an award-winning science journalist. She is active in SLA, HBA, and the American Medical Writers Association (AMWA). In 2016, Jill was the recipient of AMWA’s lifetime achievement award for her success in teaching more than 40 classes, workshops, and seminars. When not at work, she can be found reading (on an e-reader to make the print bigger), looking for her glasses, or writing children’s mysteries that feature sick children as super sleuths.
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