2 persons, transfering knowledge from one rain to another oneOne of the greatest challenges of a PMO is to ensure that the experiences generated within a project are extended to the rest of the organization and not lost when the project team dissolves. Even within each project, reaching a knowledge baseline explicitly shared by all key team members can be tricky.

This process of knowledge transfer is specific to project-based organizations and encounters different obstacles to those that characterize the transfer and application of knowledge in the field of R & D, for example.


Unfortunately, Project Management Offices can either leave the functions of knowledge transfer in the background or, when they recognize their importance, often do not take an in depth approa Preview ch. To address the problem in its complexity, we recommend starting from the recognition of the main obstacles that prevent the linear flow of knowledge.

According to B. H. Reich, there are 9 obstacles to knowledge transfer between projects:

 1. Lessons Not Learned

The difficulties organizations have in managing their day-to-day projects, starts and ends with this issue. It is true that beyond the records of previous experiences and the guidelines for the project in question, a new and unrepeatable path is undertaken that is not possible to predict, but the lessons learned allow the team to compare and analyze the possible scenarios, as well as Learn from previous situations that made it difficult to achieve the desired results.

Unfortunately, the unrepeatable characteristic of the projects complicates the application of these lessons, which are often transferred through the personal experience of a team member. In order to scale the learning beyond the personal components, it is advisable to:

– work on document repositories that allow for identification of previous similarities

– share the most relevant lessons of projects with characteristics that are going to be repeated, either because they belong to the same line of business, have the same client, or develop in similar markets.

2. Selecting defective equipment

Even if you have a project team with all the necessary competences to deliver a result of sufficient quality, it is possible that there are competencies that are difficult to identify, especially with regards to the accumulated experience, the Know-how of the company and, in the case of projects abroad, the multicultural dimension. Added to this is the fact that whoever carries out the planning will never be an expert in all the technical aspects that must be covered, which may fail to match the requirements with the technical capacity of the team. In this case, even transfer of knowledge internally to the project can seriously fail.

3. Volatile team governance

On this occasion, this is a problem related to project governance. The loss of a member of the governance structure that has a direct bearing on resource orientation and corporate strategies (eg, executive sponsorship or project management) seriously compromises levels of knowledge and stability within company departments based on projects.

4. Lack of function recognition

Project governance is sustained both by management and project sponsors, who must receive the appropriate training to monitor with more discretion. The difficulty is to incorporate top management into the management of knowledge without taking away the authority and the urgency we perceive it in the danger of taking wrong directions because the sponsors may have some inaccuracy or wrong distinction in relation to the project.

5. Inadequate knowledge integration

Large-scale projects require the intertwining of expertise in a number of areas to solve complex problems, to innovate or to transform that knowledge into something greater, thanks to its correct coupling. As we commonly see, there is not a person with the exact key to fit that diverse knowledge appropriately, so there is a risk that the pieces of the puzzle will come together incorrectly, interfering with the result. Given this scenario, project management requires that the directors ensure that effective communication with and among their work teams is maintained, to achieve a successful integration of multifunctional knowledge.

6. Incomplete transfer of knowledge

Often, for the development of a complex and innovative project, that requires the implementation of resources or specialized technical support, project members must go to the suppliers of the organization or interact with a consultant. In such interactions, knowledge transfer should strive to be as transparent as possible, but fears and conflicts of interest between the project team and their knowledge provider often interfere with the process.

Most of the failures that undermine the completion of a project occur because of incomplete knowledge transfer between the team and external consultants or suppliers during design.

This is because the people from the consultancy have the aspiration to receive higher profits, for their intellectual property and recognition of value, so in the first instance they will refuse to sell their knowledge.

Consequently, during the transfer of knowledge, information that is often crucial for the success of the project is omitted and this is not usually discovered until it has failed, which encourages us to go back and evaluate the failure. It is therefore of paramount importance to ascertain the quality of the documentation received by the knowledge provider and to evaluate its quality so that the project manager can make the most appropriate decisions.

7. Loss of Team Members

The fact that a member of the team may leave due to planned or unforeseen circumstances is an intellectual leak of great value for the project, since the time that person has dedicated to the planning and / or design process involves the accumulation of knowledge and skills related to the project and that are irreplaceable. This knowledge disappears once the person leaves.

In order to protect ourselves from the knowledge gaps created by possible losses of team members who are key players for the project, preventive measures should be taken to document knowledge, in order to continue the project with new members. Of course, there will always be some knowledge that stays with the person, which will be irreplaceable.

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8. Lack of a Role Awareness Map

As part of the project management, we highlight the creation of a knowledge map, grouped by role, to serve as a tool so that all members of the team (including the senior positions) can identify who knows what and what skills the team has for the project.

The knowledge map allows us to facilitate the efficient and effective approach to complex problems. Not having one translates into greater difficulties in finding the solution to a given conflict, since it involves the risk of assigning decision making to people whose knowledge is not the most suitable for the type of problem.

Theorists on the subject, such as Crowston and Kammerer, and Faraj and Sproull, have concluded that project teams with a knowledge map can be more effective, focusing mainly on the integration of knowledge.

9. Loss between phases

During the operational processes of the project, the structure and integration of the equipment varies with the passage from one phase to another, so we run the risk of losing valuable knowledge in those changes in composition or transmitting knowledge inadequately. For these cases, traditionally, one uses the techniques of written or graphic documentation, to record the knowledge of a previous phase, useful for the operations of the next phase.

However, in the written record, we often overlook data of great relevance for the optimal development of the new operational phase, such as the rationale of the design or its options. In turn, the interpretations that each team gives to documentation may be altered by the subjective criteria of its members, which leads to errors or delays, while trying to understand why certain decisions were made in the previous phase.

Therefore, as a method of knowledge management within the project management, we recommend integrating multimedia records in the documentation that complementcrucial aspects of the decision making of a phase, as well as manage mining data and networks of experts, so that it is as specific and clear as possible.

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