Implementing online community of practice technology has its challenges, but, thankfully, clear roadmaps exist for success. Key points detailed in this summary follow:
- Take the time to map out goals and scenarios for what target audiences need to do in the community. Think about the purpose of the community. Let these considerations guide and inform technology selection.
- Ensure there are resources available for community management tasks such as training, user support, and metrics monitoring.
- Plan to start with a small set of features in a “pilot” setting. Give this narrowly scoped community great attention (i.e., do those few things well).
- Allow the community to grow in unexpected ways that are goal- or purpose-consistent. Successful communities do this. Honor this natural process.
- Expect the community to evolve over time. Add new features only when there is a demonstrable need.
- Plan to have a “home base” platform but also expect that using other tools alongside it will be valuable. Especially early on, don’t spend energy on making multiple systems flow perfectly together; if a concept is useful, fine-tune it later.