The Subtle Art of Knowledge Transfer: Ensuring a Smooth Transition from Development to Support

Knowledge Transfer, a key component of your Knowledge Management Strategy, is crucial to achieving and maintaining a culture that supports lean, agile development and embraces opportunities to quickly learn and adapt to new challenges.

This becomes even more apparent in the ever-evolving landscape of software development.

The capture and transfer of knowledge plays a pivotal role in ensuring seamless transitions between different stages of the development lifecycle.

The journey from Application Development to User Acceptance Testing (UAT) and finally to the Business as Usual (BAU) support teams requires careful attention to detail and a deeply embedded KM process.

To achieve this, each team must focus on the following key KM objectives:

  • Development: Capturing essential information.
  • Testing: Curating comprehensive documentation.
  • Transition to BAU: Ensuring knowledge is accurate and relevant.

Development: Capturing essential information

Development teams are instrumental in building the application’s foundation and documenting essential information.

This should include any architectural diagrams, coding standards, and guidelines, as well as the documentation of code repositories, version control, and deployment processes.

When done right, this not only accelerates troubleshooting and any future maintenance but also fosters a sense of ownership among the development team.

Common pitfalls

  • Tight deadlines: Teams rush to meet project deadlines, which can lead to incomplete or inadequate documentation.
  • Code over care: Developers may prioritise coding over documentation, hindering the transition to subsequent phases, leading to confusion and delays down the line.
  • Turnover rates: A heavy reliance on short-term contract developers or frequent turnover rates for ongoing staff can result in knowledge loss if there is no systematic approach in place for knowledge transfer.

Primary focus for Developers

The primary focus here is to capture and share the knowledge that is essential for the development and ongoing maintenance of applications.

This can be divided into two main categories:

  • Explicit knowledge: Formal, tangible information that can be expressed in words, numbers, diagrams, or other structured formats.
  • Tacit knowledge: Informal, unstructured information. Often gained through practical experiences and includes judgment, and insights that people acquire over time.

Application developers can capture explicit knowledge by writing succinct code, documenting their design choices, and creating test plans.

Tacit knowledge can be captured by sharing their expertise with other developers through code reviews, pair programming, and mentorship.

Testing: Curating comprehensive documentation

Testers need access to comprehensive documentation that allows them to understand the application’s functionality, any underlying business rules, and the expected outcomes.

Gaps or inconsistencies in this information can lead to miscommunication and can potentially compromise the quality of testing.

A critical juncture

The exchange of knowledge between Developers and Testers is a critical juncture in the software development process, where testers play a pivotal role in refining and curating knowledge before it is handed over to the Business as Usual (BAU) teams.

Primary focus for Testers

The primary focus for your test teams is to capture and share the knowledge that is essential for quality assurance, user experience and BAU support.

Your testers should diligently explore the application’s functionality, scrutinising it against specifications, business rules, and user expectations. They should identify any issues, anomalies, and potential enhancements.

Through integrated collaboration with development teams, this process should lead to establishing a comprehensive knowledge base that is invaluable for BAU support.

Transition to BAU: Ensuring knowledge is accurate and relevant

The transition from UAT to BAU support teams is the final leg of the journey, and here, the value of a well-documented knowledge base truly shines.

BAU support teams need accurate, up-to-date information to handle incidents, service requests, and ongoing system maintenance.

The absence of such knowledge can lead to prolonged downtime, increased resolution times, and, ultimately, a less than satisfactory user experience.

Primary focus for transition to BAU

The primary focus during the transition from UAT to BAU is to ensure that the collective knowledge surrounding the application aligns with the real-world challenges faced by your end-users and first level support teams.

By documenting how issues were addressed and incorporating lessons learned, your knowledge base becomes a dynamic and adaptive resource.

Simultaneously, it is equally important to retire unnecessary or obsolete knowledge. This pruning of information streamlines your repository, preventing future team members from sifting through irrelevant or outdated data.

When your transition to BAU captures the evolution of the application but also remains lean and relevant, it optimises the efficiency and effectiveness of ongoing support.

Popular tools that excel at knowledge transfer

ServiceNow

A popular platform for IT service management, ServiceNow excels in knowledge management by providing tools and workflows specifically designed to capture and organise information during the development phase.

It offers a structured approach to architectural design, application development, and change management procedures.

ServiceNow’s integration with other ITIL (Information Technology Infrastructure Library) processes ensures that knowledge is readily available to support teams, streamlining the transition to BAU support.

Jira

Another popular tool amongst Application Development and Project Management teams is Jira, which is widely used to create detailed issues and tasks.

Through integration with Jira with Confluence, Atlassian’s documentation platform, Jira can facilitate the creation of comprehensive documentation that accompanies your applications through their lifecycle.

The linchpin of sustainable development

The effective capture and transfer of knowledge is the linchpin of a successful, and sustainable, Application Development Process.

With the right planning, documentation and tools, any pitfalls you encounter during these phases can easily be mitigated.

Thanks to your Knowledge Management Strategy, you can now navigate your ever-changing landscape with confidence, agility, and a commitment to continuous improvement.

(Visited 13 times, 1 visits today)
Trevor Petrie - Knowledge Management Specialist

Written by Trevor Petrie

Trevor Petrie is a Knowledge Management Specialist, Accredited Lean Practitioner and Certified ServiceNow Administrator. Connect on LinkedIn or view Trevor's ServiceNow Resume.