Getting Started with Communities of Practice

Originally posted Nov 30, 2016

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Q: I was wondering if you could provide me with a list of technologies/company names that can help us get started with the Community of Practice (CoP) concept. The SharePoint out-of-box features are bland, and we’re looking to make this a very engaging CoP within our SharePoint environment. We’re thinking that we should take advantage of discussion forums (with ability to select ‘Best answer’), blogs (where Team Members can post their Proven Practices/Lessons Learned), and some type of resources section (where SMEs can advertise themselves as a specialist and willing to be contacted). Hopefully, we’re on the right path, but if you know of better ways to build CoPs, please let me know.

A: To get started with the CoP concept, start with the steps needed to successfully create and lead communities. These posts about communities of practice should be helpful. Technology is the least important consideration when starting communities. Community leadership is the most important one.

If you want to review the landscape of available community tools, check out the analyst reports from Real Story Group, Gartner, Forrester, and IDC. Links to their collaboration-related reports are in Online Community & ESN Platforms.

>discussion forums (with ability to select ‘Best answer’)

I suggest using Yammer for discussions, and copying answers that you want to have reused to a separate FAQ (frequently asked questions) in a SharePoint list. It is then easier to find these answers later using search, tags, and filters. I would avoid the term “best answer” and either use “recommended answer” or “FAQ” instead.

>blogs (where Team Members can post their Proven Practices/Lessons Learned)

Rather than a blog, I suggest just adding a unique tag to discussion posts (e.g., #PP or #LL), or using a SharePoint list or document library for this purpose.

>resources section (where SMEs can advertise themselves as a specialist and willing to be contacted)

You can do this either by adding a unique tag to discussion posts (e.g., #AdSME), or using a SharePoint list.

To find out what community tools others are using, and how they are using them, join the SIKM Leaders Community and post a query to its threaded discussion board.

Written by

Knowledge Management Author and Speaker, Founder of SIKM Leaders Community, Community Evangelist, Knowledge Manager https://sites.google.com/site/stangarfield/

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