“We knew our knowledge community was a success when…”
Different companies can finish that sentence in a variety of ways. Some are pleased when the knowledge community is sustaining itself and doesn’t need anyone to prod users to participate. Others have a sense of achievement when they have numbers to go by that verify the community is viable.
How do you know when your knowledge community has made it? A few telltale signs indicate that your knowledge community is a success include the following:
The big guys get involved. When your management team or stakeholders start logging on to share tips and ideas, it is certainly a good sign. Not only are users who “do” the work use it, but the people guiding the efforts are making a proactive effort to contribute.
Everyone’s chiming in. Users that have different roles—such as the design team, community administrator or evangelists are committed to their roles to constantly contribute and improve the virtual atmosphere.
The numbers don’t lie. Who says you can’t gauge the efficacy of your knowledge community by the numbers? While some of the perks can’t be quantified, you can get a peek at who is logging in, how much they are posting and how much follow-up feedback they are getting.
Welcoming feedback. The knowledge community should have some sort of forum for feedback so it can be improved regularly. This gives users a say in how their community is run—people like when others listen to their ideas.
You can see clearly now. If your knowledge community not only has a launch plan, but a roadmap for sustainability, you are on the right track to being able to get the most out of it.
When it comes to knowledge communities, there are many ways to gauge success. It can be defined by engaged users, capturing success stories, adoption, and evangelism. Ultimately, if it meets the business outcomes, it can be called as a success.
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Jim Kane is the Director of Collaboration and Knowledge Management (KM) at Paragon Solutions. Jim leads the KM practice with a focus on knowledge management and SharePoint-based solutions that support day-to-day business optimization via virtual problem solving, communities of practice, knowledge repositories, role-based communication portals, partner collaboration, and information dashboards. He is co-author of a patent, “Methods of Knowledge Management,” and has over 15 years of experience teaching at the college level as an adjunct instructor. Jim has presented at numerous regional and national conferences on the topics of Knowledge Communities, Adoption Strategies for SharePoint, and Global SharePoint deployments.