New APQC Research Details Best Practices for Turning Knowledge into Lasting Value and Competitive Advantage

APQC names best-practice organizations: Accenture, Kraft Foods Group Inc., Lloyd’s Register: Marine, Lockheed Martin, U.S. Department of State, Wipro Ltd.

(Houston, Texas - January 20, 2014)  APQC, the nonprofit leader in benchmarking and best practices research, has released a new best practice research report—Transferring and Applying Critical Knowledge—that outlines how leading organizations design their knowledge capture, transfer, and reuse programs. The study, for which KPMG served as Research Champion and 14 organizations participated as sponsors, details 19 best practices for identifying and applying critical knowledge. These practices are important in countering business challenges related to employee turnover and the impending wave of Baby Boomer retirements. APQC will be hosting a webinar on Thursday, January 23 at 10:30 .a.m. Central Standard Time to discuss the best practices from this research.

In the study, APQC was solely responsible for identifying the six organizations that demonstrate best practices: Accenture, Kraft Foods Group Inc., Lloyd’s Register: Marine, Lockheed Martin, U.S. Department of State, and Wipro Ltd.

The top five best practices identified in the study include:

  1. Let business leaders and experts determine what knowledge is critical, but provide criteria to support their decision making.
    Thirty-eight percent of the study sponsors report having no criteria at all to identify or prioritize critical knowledge, leading to haphazard approaches. By contrast, best-practice organizations enlist leaders and other knowledgeable people performing the work of the business as the ultimate arbiters of what knowledge to capture and transfer.
  2. When deciding to capture and transfer knowledge, consider the ratio of tacit to explicit knowledge, the intended audience, and the rate of change.
    Best-practice organizations have specific criteria to help organizations decide whether a particular body of knowledge is best transferred through systematic methods (e.g., formal knowledge transfer from mentor to mentee) or more organic methods (e.g., microblogging or collaboration tools).
  3. Structure systematic knowledge transfer as a time-bound event with clear goals, milestones, responsibilities, and outcomes.
    APQC typically advocates embedding knowledge sharing and collaboration into the flow of work, making it an ongoing and natural part of employees’ daily routines. However, systematic knowledge transfer requires participants to carve out time for activities that are above and beyond their normal job duties
  4. Make knowledge broadly accessible unless there is a specific reason to restrict it.
    Many organizations worry about protecting their intellectual property (IP) to the detriment of preserving and distributing their collective knowledge. Best-practice organizations recognize the importance of IP protection, but they embrace the philosophy of “share unless you can’t.”
  5. Offer self-service tools to navigate, filter, and customize the flow of knowledge—and provide a human support team as a last resort.
    The best-practice organizations use a variety of tools and approaches to connect employees to knowledge and expertise, including expertise location systems; microblogging; communities of practice; and internal conferences, seminars, and webinars.

The 14 additional best practices outlined in the report are featured in the research overview as well as the full best practice research report available online.

“There is growing interest in knowledge capture and transfer as a result of changing demographics, the pace at which knowledge and skillsets are evolving, and new technologies that make it increasingly difficult to pinpoint critical knowledge among the masses of information available,” said Lauren Trees, KM Program Research Manager, APQC. “All these trends point to a need to identify the knowledge that organizations need to succeed; separate it from the noise; and document it so that it’s available when, where, and how employees need it.”

“It was interesting to observe how the best-practice organizations focus on building capabilities that can help their people connect and collaborate with others quickly,” said Robert Armacost, Global Head of Knowledge, KPMG International. “Traditionally, knowledge management has focused primarily on the capture and management of large content libraries. But times have changed. Knowledge is increasingly taking many different forms, has a shorter ‘shelf life,’ and needs to be shared and learned more rapidly than ever before.”

About APQC

APQC is a member-based nonprofit and one of the world’s leading proponents of knowledge management, benchmarking, and best practices business research. Working with more than 750 organizations worldwide in all industries, APQC provides organizations with the information they need to work smarter, faster, and with confidence. Visit, call +1.713.681.4020 or follow @APQC and learn how to Make Best Practices Your PracticesSM.


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