Knowledge Transfers Remain a Challenge – steps to reduce institutional loss 

Jonathan Brun

Programs fall apart when you switch between project teams and operations teams. This post discusses some key steps to minimize risk of lost information.


Transitions between teams and projects is one of the greatest challenges for any organization. This is as true in risk and compliance management as it is in other domains.

During our webinar last week, over 40% of attendees said they had a COVID Crisis Committee working on their organisation’s response to the epidemic. In a certain sense, the COVID crisis is a “project” and transitioning those committees into operations will be a challenge for many organisations. We dive deeper into this problem of communication during project transitions in this blog post.

The right documentation is the key

It sounds simple: document your work and the next team will be able to pick up where you left off!

As anyone who has tried knows, documentation and communication remains a challenge. One of the main reasons for this gap in documentation is our tendency to put all documentation in one bucket. In fact, there are four key types of documentation all projects need to have:

  • Tutorial – Like teaching a small child how to cook
    • learning-oriented
    • A lesson
    • Allows the newcomer to get started
  • How-to Guide – Like a recipe in a cookbook
    • A series of steps
    • Goal-oriented
    • Shows how to solve a specific problem
  • Explanation – Like an article on culinary social history
    • Understanding-oriented
    • Provides background and context
  • Reference – Like an encyclopaedia article
    • Information-oriented
    • Accurate and complete
    • Describes the machinery

Breaking apart your documentation is a critical element to the management of the information. By separating it out, each document you create will have a clear purpose and it will be much more maintainable. When it comes to compliance programs, you need to prepare information in this format if you want the operations team to pick up where a project development team left off.

The second main error in documentation and in writing in general is our assumption that the reader or recipient has the same context as us. We all have a tendency to assume that the people we are speaking with share most of the same contextual knowledge than us even though that is rarely the case. Great documentation and communication takes the time to provide contextual information that helps the reader understand the “Why” of what we are trying to achieve. Once that is achieved, you can move on to the “What”, “How”, “When” and “Where” something needs to be done.

When it comes to COVID and Compliance Management in general, it is essential to build your documentation right from the start. Ensure you include all the relevant pieces of information to build up context and then ensure you structure your documentation according to the four types listed above. If you can achieve this then your knowledge transfer will be much smoother and have a higher likelihood of continuing and becoming embedded in operations.

P.S. This is only the documentation piece, you also need to spend time on meetings, presentations and getting in person buy-in for your plans.

If you need help implementing a Comprehensive Compliance program for your organization and your stakeholders, please contact us at of at +1-888-608-7511


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