Friday, May 14, 2010

Community Planning and Scoping Perspectives

Community Planning and Scoping ReportBuilding Successful Online Communities
Submission for Enterprise 2.0 wiki template contest.

Many companies, when implementing technology projects, focus too heavily on the Technology and perceived technology risks and not enough on the Planning, People and Change Management aspects of a project.

Submitted by Stephen Rahal IGLOO INC. Helix is a VAR of Igloo

Many companies, when implementing technology projects, focus too heavily on the Technology and perceived technology risks and not enough on the Planning, People and Change Management aspects of a project. As indicated in the diagram below, many organizations perceive their project risk as increasing the farther they get into the project, while actually most of the real risk to the project is introduced into or mitigated out of the project in the Planning and Scoping phase.

The IGLOO approach to managing projects will be to divide a project life cycle into five stages, of which three may involve a consulting engagement, one is entirely focused on the actual build and delivery of the technology solution and one is an optional stage that deals with the concept definition, which is required when a client needs added clarity on a project prior to its start. The following graphic clarifies these stages within their context and progressive implementation during a project life-cycle.

Project Planning & Scoping

This phase involves assessing and documenting the executive vision for the project, understanding the project alignment to the organizational goals, defining a high level scope, assessing the technical complexities, and determining project duration and cost estimates. This phase results in a Project Proposal and estimated project cost.

Corporate Vision

Defining the corporate social networking vision for the organization is the key to a successful adoption. The senior executives, that are the driving forces behind the adoption of a social networking strategy for the organization, need to express their vision in a clear and accessible manner. A clear vision will serve as the roadmap, not only for the implementation project, but also for the monitoring of progress and evaluation of ROI post implementation.

Corporate Business objectives and Social Networking goals

Setting goals and objectives build on the organizational process of visioning and taking stock. Goals are a clear statement of the visions, specifying the accomplishments to be achieved if the vision is to become real. The target objectives are statements of the specific activities required to achieve the goals, starting from the current status.
PHASE 1: Requirements Gathering
Identify Key Goals & Objectives

Why are we doing this?

Goals can be lofty and a bit higher level, but keep in mind when talking with the customer that all objectives should be able to pass the "SMART" test, mean each objective should be:

1. Specific
2. Measurable
3. Achievable
4. Relevant
5. Time bounded -- are governed by deadlines

The key goals and objectives for this project within The organization include:

Goal Specific Objective(s) What Constitutes Completed Measures of Progress To be completed by

Table 1: Project Goals and Objectives

Key Stakeholder Groups

For the purposes of building successful online communities and networks, The organization will need to identify "primary" and "secondary" stakeholders. Primary stakeholders can be defined as those with a direct interest in the online community; either because they depend on it for their function or they are directly involved in its ongoing running, building or supporting in some way. Secondary stakeholders would be those with a more indirect interest, such as those involved in institutions or agencies concerned with contributing to the community or those who depend at least partially on outcomes or benefits generated by the online resource.

The concept of the stakeholder does not extend merely to those directly involved in the community but extends to all those deriving some form of benefit from the community. At least for those groups identified as having significant interests or deriving important benefits, The organization has to look at their priorities and motivations, decision-making processes and institutions, and understand the social, economic and cultural links between each group and the community. Likewise, attention needs to be paid to the particular age groups of stakeholders. Given that online communities are relatively new in the professional realm, older professionals may rely heavier on conventional means of interactions, such as email, documents, etc., while young professionals (Net generation) might make more significant use of interactive media, such as blogs, forums, IM and the specific needs of these groups should not be overlooked.

The variety of stakeholders and their often conflicting interests in the community will mean that The organization will have to prioritize levels of interest of different groups in different community aspects. It will rarely be possible to accommodate all interests. However, this process can assist in identifying key or primary stakeholders and those with less direct or secondary interests. Through this process, some stakeholders might be felt to have only minor or very indirect interest in the community and therefore not need to be directly involved in the implementation decision-making process, although their concerns should be registered in the risks section.


Phase I: Requirements Gathering
Identify Key Stakeholder Groups

•Who are the primary target users?
•What are their demographics, location, estimated numbers, what is their stake in this project, etc.?
•What are their 3 top needs by group?

The key target stakeholders for this project have been identified as the following:

Stakeholder Group (in order of priority) Stakeholder Group Description Primary Needs
Priority 1
Priority 2
Priority 3

Table 2: Requirements by stakeholder groups

Project scope

Most organizations desire to move their web presence into an interactive web environment, to engage current stakeholders, provide an ongoing relationship of support and/or establish a central clearinghouse of best practice information.

In order to successfully implement a high-value community network, the following important questions need to be addressed during the implementation:
* Do the stakeholders see the website as an extension of a support role or as a information destination on its own?
* How can the site best serve people looking for continuing support?
* What is the best way to engage people in a mission and to become members and/or donors?
* What kind of programs and/or activity information is needed? How best to deliver on those needs?
* How can a site support a deep, rich bond with all stakeholders?

The understanding gained from the answers need to be assessed for compatibility with the features and function set provided on the platform under consideration.

Positioning Strategy

This strategy describes how to best position the social networking solution within the corporate structure and culture. This will describe what key stakeholders will be targeted, how project risks will be taken into consideration and how success factors are used to make this successful.

Technical Complexities and Identified Risks

Effective risk management is a central function in the successful planning and execution of online community projects. In ideal risk management, a prioritization process is followed whereby the risks with the greatest loss and the greatest probability of occurring are handled first, and risks with lower probability of occurrence and lower loss are handled in descending order. In practice the process can be very difficult, and balancing between risks with a high probability of occurrence but lower impact versus a risk with high impact but lower probability of occurrence can often be mishandled.

Intangible risk management identifies a new type of risk - a risk that has a 100% probability of occurring but is ignored due to a lack of identification ability. For example, in online communities relationship risk appears when ineffective collaboration occurs, process-engagement risk may be an issue when ineffective operational procedures are applied, etc. These risks directly reduce the productivity of knowledge workers, decrease cost effectiveness, profitability, service, quality, reputation, brand value, and overall community value. Intangible risk management allows risk management to create immediate value from the identification and reduction of risks that reduce productivity.

Risk management also faces difficulties allocating resources. This is the idea of opportunity cost. Resources spent on risk management could have been spent on more profitable activities. Again, ideal risk management minimizes spending while maximizing the reduction of the negative effects of risks.


Phase I - Requirements Gathering
Identify Risks

•Technology - expertise, bandwidth issues, integrations
•Operational - funding, staffing, privacy, IP
•Cultural - demographic, resistance to adoption


The risks for the success of this project are identified as the following:

Risk Type Identified Risk Constraints Risk Mitigation

Table 3: Identified project risks

Based on the list of identified risks we can now construct the organization Risk prioritization matrix for this project. This matrix consists of a two continuums being plotted against each other, namely Risk Consequences and Risk Probability of occurring. By Risk Consequences we mean the impact it would have if a risk would materialize in an actual event. The risks can be categorized as:

* Catastrophic
* Critical
* Marginal
* Negligible

The Risk Probability implies the chance of such risk actually materializing. The probability can be categorized as follows:

* Certain,
* Likely,
* Possible,
* Unlikely
* Rare

The risk matrix for this project is presented in the table below. The organization can use this matrix to prioritize resource and mitigation strategies by balancing risk probability (from rare to certain) and risk consequences (from negligible to catastrophic).

Negligible Marginal Critical Catastrophic


Table 4: Risk matrix

Estimated project timeframe

The estimated budget and timeline are presented in order to facilitate any decision for the project to be implemented. The next phase of this process focuses on the refinement and detailing of the project scope in order to create the project charter and schedule of deliverables as well as a detailed budget and timeframe for the project.

The wiki text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution License agreement


Plone Glenn said...

Thanks for offering the broader perspective that technology isn't everything. I advocate that, in addition to being high quality, social software must attract the right people and motivate them with a single purpose in order for the planned community to be successful.

Stu said...

Interesting post - agreed that Social Media should attract the right people and the right information.

Stewart Higgins
Intranet Expert
Intranet Software

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