A Guide for Developing a Knowledge Transfer Plan
SC Budget and Control Board

The information contained in the document is intended to guide managers of the Budget and Control Board with workforce planning and knowledge transfer as their area prepares for employees to retire or end their participation in the TERI program.

Managers should be proactive in addressing the situation in order to manage transitions and continue to function and provide services to their customers. This guide is divided into six components:

  Knowledge Transfer Philosophy
  Approaches to Consider
  Questions to Consider
  Knowledge Transfer Strategies

Knowledge Transfer Philosophy



Knowledge Transfer (KT) is the individual or work-group focused transfer of competencies essential to job performance in order to:

    - Preserve the intellectual capital of the organization
    - Create more flexibility in the workforce
    - Provide employees with a wider diversity of skills
  The Budget and Control Board’s KT initiative is designed to
    - Address the potential loss of intellectual capital (job know-how) in key functional areas at all levels of the organization
    - Guide incumbents in transferring critical job knowledge, skills, and abilities (competencies) to the appropriate recipients
  The information in this document can help you get started with transferring critical knowledge. Board Human Resources can provide assistance by facilitating and guiding you and your group through the process. For many of the Board’s managers, this guide will just reinforce what they do naturally as planners and managers. Let’s get started…

Approaches to Consider

A variety of approaches can be considered when determining how to address the areas of concern. The approach you take will influence your KT plan, i.e., who transfers the knowledge, who receives the knowledge, and when and how it will be transferred. Some options to consider include:

    - Rehire the retiree into the same job. This is a short-term “fix” but does not provide a long-term solution
    - Rehire the retiree into a revised job description with KT as the major duty.
    - Hire or promote a replacement as an understudy before the incumbent leaves. This could raise pre-selection issues. A one-step promotion is not grievable. Consider how far in advance the understudy should be identified in order to achieve the necessary KT.
    - Hire or promote a replacement after the incumbent leaves. This avoids pre-selection issues, but the KT opportunity is greatly diminished.
    - Hire or promote a replacement into a “designee” job title (ex., Deputy Designee) so that he or she can work side by side with the incumbent.
    - Restructure the job. Can the key duties be reassigned to one or more existing employees?
    - Reorganize the work unit. For example, could two units, each with its own supervisor, be combined under a single supervisor?
    - Other options:

Approaches such as these may have personnel implications, so think through the situation carefully and seek guidance from the HR Office before making a final decision.



Types of Knowledge


Structured – Data elements that are organized in a particular way for future retrieval: e.g. documents, databases, spreadsheets

Unstructured – Information not referenced for retrieval; e.g. emails, images, audio, or video selections


Knowledge that people carry in their heads. It is difficult to access and most people are not even aware of what they possess or how it is of value to others. It provides context for ideas, experiences, people, and places and is not easily captures




This acronym refers to the knowledge, skills, and abilities necessary for successful job performance. These clusters of key KSAs are sometimes referred to as competencies. KSAs are often found in the position description.


Knowledge Management


A systematic approach to finding, understanding, and using knowledge to achieve organizational objectives

    - Consists of deciding what is to be shared, with whom it is to be shared, and how it is to be shared
    - Sharing and using the knowledge

Knowledge Transfer

    - The process of sharing knowledge between one person and another
    - If knowledge has not been absorbed, it has not been transferred

Information Audit

  Identifies the information and resources and services people need to do their jobs; shows how resources and services are actually used

Knowledge Audit


Identifies the knowledge assets of an organization; provides information on how the knowledge assets are produced; identifies where there is a need for an internal transfer of knowledge


Questions to Consider in Developing a KT Plan


  Not all knowledge needs to be transferred. What are the critical elements (knowledge, skills, and/or abilities) of the job that do need to be transmitted? Are there elements that do not need to be transmitted?
  Is this an opportunity to change procedures or improve processes? If so, what is the best way to accomplish that, and who should be involved in the effort?
  Can technology by used to replace a function or streamline a task that has been done manually?
  Will a change in job processes or procedures have an impact on the jobs of others?
  How complex are the KSAs to be transferred? Can it be done by checklists or documenting steps in a process, or does the job require judgment, developing relationships, or understanding related systems?
  How long will it take for transfer to occur – a few days or several months? This will depend in part on the complexity of the knowledge to be transferred. Are there key activities that only occur quarterly or annually?
  How will you know if the knowledge has been successfully transferred?


  Is the incumbent the best person to transfer the knowledge (mentor)? How good are his or her teaching and coaching skills? Is he/she willing to do it?
  Do others in the organization perform this job? If so, what are their skills and attitudes toward KT?
  Who are the best persons to receive the KT (protégés)? Why?
  Who else has a stake in this and what should their roles be? Should the mentor’s supervisor be involved? What about the proteges’ supervisor(s)?
  Will participating in the KT process affect the proteges’ performance in their current jobs? What workload issues may be created, and how will they be addressed?
  Will participating in the KT process be viewed by mentors and protégés as rewarding or punishing?
  What pay actions may be generated? Will PDs and EPMS documents need revision?


  What KT methods will the mentors use, and what support, materials, or training might they need?
  What are the start and completion dates for the KT?
  What are the specific learning objectives and performance criteria for protégés?
  How will success be measured?

Knowledge Transfer Strategies


There are many ways for an organization to identify, store, and transfer knowledge. Some strategies will work better in one organization than another. Some may not be appropriate for specific types of content. The challenge is to identify and develop complementary ways to further knowledge management and transfer in an organization.

    Apprenticeships, Internships, and Traineeships
      Formal arrangements where an experienced person passes along knowledge and skill to a novice who, after a designated period of time, reaches the journey level. Examples include apprenticeships for occupations such as electricians, plumbers, and steamfitters; one-to-three year traineeships for computer programmers or administrative titles; and summer internships.
    Best Practices
      The identification and use of processes and/or practices that result in excellent products or services. Best practices, sometimes called preferred practices, often generate ideas for improvements in other organizations or work units.
    Communities of Practice
      Groups of individuals who share knowledge about a common work practice over a period of time, though they are not part of a formally constituted work team. Communities of practice generally cut across traditional organizational boundaries. They enable individuals to acquire new knowledge faster. They may also be called Communities of Interest if the people share an interest in something but do not necessarily perform the work on a daily basis.
    Documenting Processes
      Developing a written or electronic record of a specific work process that includes the business case for the process, steps in the process, key dates, relationship to other processes that come before and after, key players and contact information, any required references and legal citations, back-up procedures, and copies of forms, software, data sets, and file names associated with the process.
    Document Repositories
      Collections of documents that can be viewed, retrieved, and interpreted by humans and automated software systems (e.g. statistical software packages). Document repositories add navigation and categorization services to stored information. Key word search capability is often provided to facilitate information retrieval.
    Expert Interviews
      Sessions where one or more people who are considered experts in a particular subject, program, policy, or process, etc. meet with others to share knowledge. Expert interviews can be used in many ways, including capturing knowledge of those scheduled to leave an organization, conducting lessons learned debriefings, and identifying job competencies. The U.S. Navy videotaped a multi-day session where recent retirees reflected on the reasons for success and failure. The New York State Department of Motor Vehicles videotaped a meeting with a manager scheduled for retirement to capture ideas and answers to questions.
    Job Aids
      These are tools that help people perform tasks accurately. They include things such as checklists, flow diagrams, reference tables, decision tree diagrams, etc. that provide specific, concrete information to the user and serve as a quick reference guide to performing a task. Job aids are not the actual tools used to perform tasks, such as computers, measuring tools, or telephones.
    Knowledge Audits

Knowledge audits help an organization identify its knowledge assets, including what knowledge is needed and available. They provide information on how knowledge assets are produced and shared, and where there is a need for internal transfer of knowledge.

    Knowledge Fairs
      These events showcase information about an organization or a topic. They can be used internally, to provide a forum for sharing information, or externally, to educate customers or other stakeholders about important information.
    Knowledge Maps and Inventories

These catalog information/knowledge available in an organization and where it is located. They point to information but do not contain it. An example is an Experts or Resource Directory that lists people with expert knowledge who can be contacted by others in need of that knowledge.

    Learning Games
      These structured learning activities are used to make learning fun and more effective, provide a review of material that has already been presented in order to strengthen learning, and evaluate how much learning has occurred.
    Lessons Learned Debriefings

These debriefings are a way to identify, analyze, and capture experiences, what worked well and what needs improvement, so others can learn from those experiences. For maximum impact, lessons learned debriefings should be done either immediately following an event or on a regular basis, with results shared quickly among those who would benefit from the knowledge gained. Hewlett Packard refers to their lessons learned sessions held during and at the end of projects in order to share knowledge as "Project Snapshots." The U.S. Army calls them "After Action Reviews."

      In mentoring, an experienced, skilled person (mentor) is paired with a lesser skilled or experienced person (protégé), with the goal of developing or strengthening competencies of the protégé.
    On-the-Job Training
      Most organizations use some form of on-the-job training where an experienced employee teaches a new person how to perform job tasks. If this happens at random or with no consistent written materials or processes, it is called unstructured OJT. A system of structured OJT differs in that specific training processes are written; training materials and guides exist and are used consistently by all those who train; training is scheduled; records are kept of training sessions; and "trainers" are given training on how to do OJT, how to give feedback, and several other factors.

This involves the construction of fictional examples or the telling of real organizational stories to illustrate a point and effectively transfer knowledge. An organizational story is a detailed narrative of management actions, employee interactions, or other intra-organizational events that are communicated informally within the organization. When used well, story telling is a powerful transformational tool in organizations.


Training encompasses a large variety of activities designed to facilitate learning (of knowledge, skills, and abilities or competencies) by those being trained. Methodologies can include classroom instruction, simulations, role-plays, computer or web-based instruction, small and large group exercises, and more. It can be instructor-led or self-directed in nature.


Source: New YorkState Dept of Civil Service