We’ve all been there.  An employee resigns and no one knows how to do all the things that person was responsible for.  Sure, there was probably a few days of “transitioning” the job functions to another individual or individuals.  Lots of time was spend which resulted in plenty of scribbled notes that made sense at the time.  Or possibly the former employee wrote up some instructions for their replacement.

But let’s face it, that person couldn’t possibly summarize everything they did for however long they were with the organization.  The new person is lost – most likely doing some of the job functions but probably not well, and with a lot of stress in the process.  Not to mention the disruption to all the other business units that person’s activities touched.

Let’s look at another scenario.  The company has up to date policies and procedures for all job functions and positions within the company.  A couple of times per year a writer reviews the existing documentation for that position and updates as necessary.  Yes, the documentation might be lengthy but so is the list of job responsibilities each person in the organization does on a regular basis.

This time, when the employee submits his or her resignation, the documentation for their position is used to train and orient the new replacement.  Everything runs smoothly, the new person has ready access to all the functions and procedures for the job.  And disruption is minimized.

Now – to take it one step further, if the previous employee left suddenly how could a replacement function in that role without major upheaval?

There are other benefits to having your operational knowledge captured.  One obvious area is that this makes it easier to spot duplication of effort, which of course would save the organization money.  Another area this could help would be litigation avoidance.

If someone isn’t performing on the job and they are fired, they could claim they “didn’t know what to do” or didn’t receive adequate training.  Again, documented procedures and compliance with those procedures can minimize this risk.

There are plenty of other benefits as well, but clearly having your operational knowledge captured and up to date leads to more effective employees, less disruption and lower costs for the organization.

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