As a provider of Nearshore IT and QA services, we are often asked by prospects and others a very important question:
How do we accomplish knowledge transfer in a fashion that quickly integrates your resources into our operating model?
Many times these companies have urgent needs, such as more programming capacity to meet product delivery requirements, a need to increase the speed of product feature delivery to meet market commitments, or the desire to quickly improve overall software quality due to customer service impacts. The last thing a business needs is to spend money and time on extended team members that do not help solve these issues within the expected time frames.
There is no magic bullet that guarantees rapid and maximum return from a new resource. However, from our experience, there are a number of common sense considerations that can be implemented to best meet the needs of the business:
- Create a simple knowledge transfer plan based on mutual expectations. This is basically a timeline that identifies the important steps for resource “ramp up”. To be included are items such as collaboration procedures, documentation review, work assignment, and joint assessment of the resource performance based on previously established expectations.
- Assign the “right people” at the “right time”. It’s incumbent upon the service provider to provide talent that meets or exceeds client expectations. This means providing people that not only have the correct technical skills but also fit culturally into the clients extended teams. Having mutually candid and detailed discussions regarding the project needs and team behavior can be highly useful to long term success.
- Create Incremental work assignments. Sharing documentation (if any is available) and other content is beneficial. However, there is no better way to accomplish knowledge transfer than performing actual work. Initially assign incremental/piecemeal work, that can be reviewed by both the client and service provider manager, ensuring the resource is on track and learning. Early review feedback is critical to setting the right tone and path for success.
- Integrate with team through open and respectful communication. Yes, this requires participation from existing team members, but it is essential the new service provider resources initiate communication as well. Of course, treating people with mutual respect, regardless of their company affiliation, has always been the right thing to do. It’s even more important now in this age of globally diverse teams – often comprised of employees, freelancers, service provider resources, and others. A culture of mutual respect across the extended team normally helps generate maximum return.
Some companies and service providers have a detailed knowledge transfer methodology. Whether the resource education occurs in a formal fashion, or in a more casual approach, following the spirit of the above “common sense’ techniques will help ensure project success.