The Knowledge Advantage in Global HR: Retaining and Optimising Knowledge in Outsourcing

The Knowledge Advantage in Global HR: Retaining and Optimising Knowledge in Outsourcing

Dr Madanmohan Rao, Editor, “The Knowledge Management Chronicles”

// Presentation outline at HR Delivery Summit, Singapore; January 17, 2012  //



KM + HR in the 21st Century Knowledge Workplace (see

1. Knowledge sharing comes naturally to digital natives

2. A key balance is between collective and individual innovative behaviours

3. The ‘knowledge quotient’ of employees should be nurtured and promoted

4. Knowledge cultures should be embedded in organisational ecosystems

5. Outsourcing, succession planning and knowledge retention should go hand in hand

HR in the 21st Century Knowledge Workplace

6. KM and strategy should go hand in hand

7. Training&development and KM should be opposite sides of the same coin

8. Knowledge deficits and liabilities should be actively addressed by HR

9. Management ‘disconnect’ should be minimised

10. Organisations should creatively deal with failures


Knowledge Roles

Boundary spanners, roamers, outposts, knowledge project managers, stewards, coaches, trainers, councillors, counsellors, officers, integrators, administrators, engineers, librarians, synthesisers, reporters, editors, learning officers, CKOs, directors of intellectual assets,  CIOs, anecdote manager . . . . . . . . . . !


“HRM policies have an impact in three key areas which influence knowledge work directly: rewards, corporate culture and organisation careers.”

(Frances Horibe, “Managing Knowledge Workers”)


Knowledge Risks in Outsourcing

Organisations risk losing crucial tacit knowledge

Difficulty in feeding tacit knowledge into vendors’ systems

Vendors with insufficient knowledge about the client

High attrition in vendor; lack of knowledge continuity

Knowledge flows: work shadowing

Project management, transition management, vendor management


What is your vendor’s KM strategy?

What is your KM strategy?


KM Skills Portfolio for Outsourcing

Diagnostic skills

Strategic alignment and focus

Vendor assessment, contract management

Change management, communication

Sense-making: corporate+competitive lifecycles

Risk management: recalibrate metrics, re-negotiate, cancel, backsourcing

Learning from mistakes (“scar stories”)

Multiple vendors


Manifestations of KM

Specific roles for knowledge brokering, facilitation, retention

Knowledge sharing/creating culture

Focus areas, eg project management, expertise profiles, competitive intelligence

Communities of practice, expertise directories

Capacity building: workshops, “KM Day”

Incentives for innovation, collaboration

Knowledge maps, knowledge repositories, eg. best practices

Tools: portal, social media, email mining, search


The “8 Cs” of Success in the Knowledge Era










The “8 Cs” of Success in the Knowledge Era


Connectivity, bandwidth, devices, platform, interfaces, standards, portal


Archives, assets, databases. Creation, codification, classification, archival, retrieval, tracking


Knowledge-exchange communities, evolution of communities, support


Trust, support, learning organisation


Roles, organisational support, training, HR


Between units, with customers/partners, industry, external institutes (eg academia)


Commercial and other incentives, pricing of knowledge contribution, ranking and usage


Investments into KM practice, RoI metrics


HR’s Role in KM

Defining full-time and part-time KM roles

Creating and nurturing a knowledge-sharing culture

KRAs for KM performance

Incentives, rewards/awards, competitions for encouraging KM

Career planning in the KM function

Including KM in induction, ‘exduction’


The Monday Morning Checklist: KM in Outsourcing

Conduct an “8 Cs” audit of your knowledge stocks and flows

Identify knowledge opportunities, gaps and risks arising due to outsourcing

Build communities of practice, expertise around knowledge flows in outsourcing

Create regular communication channels, forums and knowledge processes for creation & retention

Measure, assess and update


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