Informal knowledge and communications

Transferring organisation

A major change of function will have a significant impact on the transferring organisation, and even a minor transfer will mean some upheaval for the staff immediately involved – they may be required to move to a new location and learn new systems and methods. Some jobs may be changed or even abolished. Knowledge networks may need to be rebuilt to enable remaining staff to function effectively.
As part of the transferring organisation’s responsibility to ensure the information required for a smooth transition is identified and prepared for transfer, they will need to consider capturing knowledge which is not written down or held in a formal way. This includes knowledge about the history of the function which is at risk of being lost if staff do not move with the function.

Useful tools for capturing this information include:

A function statement

This should be drawn up by the existing staff and should explain who they are and what they do. It should cover:

  • the public task of an organisation
  • purpose
  • goals
  • recent achievements
  • introduction of collective knowledge/expertise
  • risk register for current and planned activities with management strategies and contingency plans

Handover notes

These should include information about the way business is conducted and a list of key contacts. This is especially important if staff are not moving with the function.


These should be given to transferring staff where necessary with the purpose of gaining knowledge of records, processes and contacts. Suggested questions include:

  • What key skills do you have that enable you to do your job?
  • What are the key resources you need to do your job?
  • Is there anything that would help you function more effectively?
  • If your job didn’t exist what would happen?
  • Who are your key contacts internally/externally?
  • Who are your customers internally/externally?
  • What service do you provide to them?

Risk register

This should include current and planned activities with management strategies and contingency plans.

Maximum use should be made of existing knowledge management tools such as corporate directories and intranets to ensure that all those affected are fully informed of the changes. Explore the possibility of using social media tools (such as Wikis, blogs, instant messaging, podcasts, social bookmarking, knowledge networks) to maintain existing knowledge networks.

Receiving organisation

The receiving organisation will need to provide accommodation, equipment and training for incoming staff, and inform existing staff of the new arrangements.

When staff are moving with the function, it is important that they receive full training in the new organisation’s records management systems and procedures.

 Communications plan

This should be devised to keep staff informed of changes. This could include:

  • a launch session
  • briefing on the machinery of government change
  • publication of the function statement
  • welcome packs for new colleagues
  • a welcome email introducing key figures in the organisation, explaining aims and objectives and advertising corporate services
  • inductions for all new staff (including senior staff)

Corporate directories should be updated before the date of transfer.