Before I’ll start, let me describe our company: it’s an international IT-company with 900+ employees, providing software development and IT-consulting.
Around 2 years ago I got the opportunity to boost the technical level of the company.
A not easy challenge, but it was a great opportunity to try my approaches and visions.
In the beginning, it was different kind of questions to solve. Let me share the most important of them:
- How to identify directions for improvements?
- How to form the team which will make it possible?
- How to make it work not one time, but day-by-day?
- How to make it work with a small budget?
I don’t remember how it happened, but a wonderful answer to all these questions came from my subconscious: let’s build communities for each work area: Business Analysis, Java Development, JS Development, DevOps, Quality Assurance and so on.
Let’s clarify my understanding of the Community:
Community – is an open informal group of employees who are interested in knowledge sharing in a specific work area.
Let me highlight few words:
Open – it means that all employees can be a part of the community. No restrictions related to experience. Why? Each person can be helpful! Sometimes proactivity and creativity of the young people are vital for the work process.
Informal – it should be a friendly and homelike atmosphere between community members. Why? It should easy to share knowledge and even small achievements. Members should be loyal to the experience of each other and ready to help. There is no community without easy communications.
Interested – means not-indifferent and proactive. Why it’s important? An indifferent employee has no energy to get or share the experience. Such employees are more like zeros for the community. In all cases, they are welcome. Important note: be sure they don’t demotivate other community members. Such kind of people exists as well.
So how communities will help with the questions from above? Let me answer in a different order and elaborate community idea.
How to form the team which will make it possible?
Let’s begin with regular Meetups where community members will share knowledge, discuss trends, new approaches, problems, solutions. Here it will be possible to identify the most professional and proactive employees for other activities. Additionally, we can select the most experienced member to help with community leading. Let’s call them Community Lead. The most regular meetups members will form the Community Core. This formation will be really useful with performing of the most important and complex work.
How to identify directions for improvements?
It will be possible during meetups discussions. Especially during discussions of the new trends and existing problems. Additionally, we can send regular Newsletter with the review of existing trends, useful resources and so on. Responsible member will get new experience and share it with the whole community. All of these will cover one big goal: Aligning of the company with future trends, but it’s not all. Community efforts can be applied to cover more areas: mentoring, training of employees, providing consultations and help other employees and projects, knowledge mining (research) and sharing, organizing of technical events (i.e. Hackathons), Sales Support and so on.
How to make it work not one time, but day-by-day?
With the structure from above and regular activities (i.e. Meetups, Newsletters etc), Communities will become an integral and permanent part of the company. After some time it will be possible to identify, describe and support related processes to make them stable and effective.
How to make it work just with a small budget?
The secret is that Communities are helpful not only for the company but especially for the employees themselves: they get new skills, new experience, help, field for creativity. Just for free! As a result, the company can pay just for extra efforts like community leading, meetups organizing, newsletter preparation, but as a result get a really great profit and help.
I hope the concept of communities has become more understandable and simple.
Unfortunately, the greatest difficulties in creating something are rooted in details.
The devil is in the details
Let’s highlight the top of problems met on my way to communities building.
- How to find initial community members?
- How to communicate with the community?
- What the best format of the meetup?
- Who is the best Community Lead?
- How to make Community processes stable?
- How to motivate employees to join the community?
- How to launch a pure technical community with many introverts inside?
- How to apply community efforts in the best way?
- How to make the community part of the company processes?
- How to measure community profits?
Like in movies, let’s answer on these questions in the next posts. See you!
By the way: let me wish you a happy and prosperous Happy Year!