PracticeAccounting FirmsKnowledge sharing – it’s a team game

Knowledge sharing - it's a team game

Creating the right atmosphere to enable a team to get along and share their knowledge is vital for growing a successful firm.

Link: Small practice guide

During the 2004 Rugby World Cup, each member of the England team played a very important role right up to the essential feed of the ball to enable that historic drop-goal to clinch victory. The same applies to business.

Knowledge sharing is a sensitive issue, as some team members may be reluctant to share information with their peers. There is a school of thought that says knowledge is power, and letting go of it means they may become dispensable.

But sharing information within the team allows individuals to improve their skills, save time diagnosing and investigating issues – ultimately to enable the whole team to really start achieving more together.

Investment in knowledge management systems is a good way of breaking into knowledge sharing. These systems take the information about clients, technical issues and business problems and feed it into a database with a simple-to-use web interface everyone can access when they want.

The payback is almost immediate. Your team can share information, shortcuts in their work and ‘new’ products – all in a matter of seconds. They will be ‘sold’ on the idea when they see the benefits for customers and, more importantly, themselves.

Most of us use search engines like Google. These tools allow us to find information about subjects quickly and easily. Similarly, feeding data from all your team members into a search engine will ensure that authorised members of the team – and even selected customers – can quickly access information and solutions that others have created.

This cuts down on time spent by the other team members explaining the data, not to mention the time spent researching the information in the first place.

At Bolton Colby, we have integrated our knowledge-management system, which includes scanning in all our post, with our practice management system to give team members a single ‘portal’ to all they need for client care. Many larger organisations have spent millions on their powerful intranets – we believe that we have obtained most of these benefits for a team of 90 at a tiny fraction of the cost.

This integration also allows our team to create letters and other documents for clients at the touch of a button. The correct address and contact details appear in the letter, together with a ready-made template for ‘standard’ letters. All we have to do is add the personal touch.

This is automatically saved in the correct network location for that client without having to tell the system where to save or what to call the document and the whole team can quickly and easily find these documents again whenever required.

Such systems can also reduce user error and keep consistency within the firm, and largely eliminate the frustration of hunting for data and previous examples.

Knowledge-based systems may not help you win the world cup – but they will certainly improve your team’s performance.

  • Keith Malcouronne, managing partner of Bolton Colby and its IT division BC Technologies. – Send in your questions for our adviser panel of experts on matters relating to small practices by emailing adviser@accountancyage.com.

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