8 Replies Latest reply: Dec 20, 2010 5:57 AM by Jeff Crump RSS

    How are you using Social Groups?

    Jeff Crump

      Hi,

      We've started looking at the Social Groups function in SBS 4.0.x. We've kept it turned off thus far because of the potential for creating an information silo within our SBS implementation.

       

      We're pretty sure that if social groups are easily available, our staff will...

       

      • Create social groups instead of regular spaces because it is quick and easy; and permissions are sooo much simpler to manage
      • Use the group as they would a typical space -- for sharing and storing work-related materials.

       

      We feel that we need to really define how social groups should be used, possibly limiting content types or only permitting secret groups, etc.

       

      I'd love to hear how others are using social groups, and what you feel the keys to success are. How do you define social groups for your users?

       

      Likewise, if the social groups experiment didn't pay off, what you attribute this to?

       

      Many thanks,

      Jeff

        • Re: How are you using Social Groups?
          Frank Gebhardt

          Hi Jeff,

           

          in our company the feeling was very similar and the discussion between the "control" and the "shared power and responsibility" was on for a while. We settled to get started with giving everybody the right to create groups. However, we pre-seeded the base space structure and had a clear plan in migrating existing Intranet content across. Then we trained staff what groups were allowed and what process to follow. The governance team reported every month back to the senior management on what groups have been created and what the level of social activity compared to work is. After 3 month the control people acknowledged their fear was mostly unfounded and the monthly reporting changed to quarterly. We did, however, found that similar groups were created and needed merging, that some groups were dying when the key person left, that some groups should have been spaces within the structure. That's were the governance team comes in reviewing such content, and facilitating with group and space owners the necessary merging, reviving, or moving of content and the necessary communication with the members.

           

          One core thing that make groups so compelling for us is the visibility of group membership. When you are in a group you know who has got access. We also have some restricted spaces but only the space administrator can see who has access....

           

          hope that helps

          Frank

            • Re: How are you using Social Groups?
              Jeff Crump

              Hi Frank,

              Your implementation is very thoughtful and gives me lots of good ideas. A couple questions...

              we pre-seeded the base space structure and had a clear plan in migrating existing Intranet content across.

              Did you have pre-existing social groups that were migrated from your intranet? Did you move your entire intranet to SBS? (Our SBS implementation is an upgrade from Clearspace, which actually pre-dated our Drupal-based intranet. Another question we're grappling with is whether social groups belong on the intranet or in the SBS collaborative workspace.)

              Then we trained staff what groups were allowed and what process to follow.

              Am I correct that your staff can create groups "on the fly", but periodic review by the governance team may determine the group to be redundant with other groups or spaces? Do you have a sense of how much time the governance team spends on a quarterly basis reviewing groups?

               

              Do you allowed non-work related groups?

              We did, however, found that similar groups were created and needed  merging, that some groups were dying when the key person left, that some  groups should have been spaces within the structure.

              Have you found a way to merge spaces programmatically? Also, when a group does "die", do you archive the content in any way?

              One core thing that make groups so compelling for us is the visibility  of group membership. When you are in a group you know who has got  access.

              This is very important to us as well. Not just the visibility of current group membership, but also the ability to email the group at large without going through the process of establishing "connections" with everyone. One of our biggest complaints from space administrators is the lack of the members tab (which I feel should be available for any space or project).

               

              Many thanks!

              Jeff

                • Re: How are you using Social Groups?
                  Frank Gebhardt

                  Hi Jeff,

                   

                  thank you

                  Jeff Crump wrote:

                   

                  Hi Frank,

                  Your implementation is very thoughtful and gives me lots of good ideas. A couple questions...

                  we pre-seeded the base space structure and had a clear plan in migrating existing Intranet content across.

                  Did you have pre-existing social groups that were migrated from your intranet? Did you move your entire intranet to SBS? (Our SBS implementation is an upgrade from Clearspace, which actually pre-dated our Drupal-based intranet. Another question we're grappling with is whether social groups belong on the intranet or in the SBS collaborative workspace.)

                  The answer is 'mostly' no. Our Intranet was based on AssetNow and didn't allow for social groups. We did however have a newsgroup server and a limited number of newsgroups became social groups. The first one being "The Watercooler". We considered an automatic data migration but then decided against it. Two arguments for this were, the information on the Intranet was necessarily not up to date and the Intranet structure didn't reflect the latest company strategic direction. Hence we used a student to do the leg work but having the content vetted by the different information owners. This took us about 3 months. Rather a long time but the results was up to date and correctly structured information. The downside was the student knew the new system well, the new space owners didn't. Hence we used him to train the new space owners, too.

                   

                  Our structure looks roughly like this

                  • space 1 = structured information from the old Intranet - this is information about what the different areas and departments do.
                  • space 2 = collaborative information about what we provide and deliver to our customers
                  • space 3 = our internal project space
                  • space 4 = company strategy

                   

                  Social groups are only in Jive groups. We allow 4 types of groups

                  • communities of interests = cross functional groups about company products, solutions, or tools (what we do and what we use)
                  • communities of practice = cross functional groups about competencies (How we do things)
                  • groups that are outside the organisational structure, e.g. social club, OSH committee, etc
                  • social groups, e.g the watercooler, runners club, etc

                   

                   

                  Am I correct that your staff can create groups "on the fly", but periodic review by the governance team may determine the group to be redundant with other groups or spaces? Do you have a sense of how much time the governance team spends on a quarterly basis reviewing groups?

                   

                  Do you allowed non-work related groups?

                  We did, however, found that similar groups were created and needed  merging, that some groups were dying when the key person left, that some  groups should have been spaces within the structure.

                  Have you found a way to merge spaces programmatically? Also, when a group does "die", do you archive the content in any way?

                  One core thing that make groups so compelling for us is the visibility  of group membership. When you are in a group you know who has got  access.

                  This is very important to us as well. Not just the visibility of current group membership, but also the ability to email the group at large without going through the process of establishing "connections" with everyone. One of our biggest complaints from space administrators is the lack of the members tab (which I feel should be available for any space or project).

                   

                   

                  As mentioned above we allow non-work groups. There was quite a bit of fear that the system would be used too much for non work stuff. This didn't eventuate on scale. There are people who explore the boundaries. Standard management practices are used in those cases.

                   

                  No, we don't do much outside the OOTB functionality. We are using a few plugins but haven't done any programmatical changes or add ons. And after a year we are just discussing archiving.

                   

                  I totally agree the visibility of space membership would improve the system considerably! Similar with projects, I don't understand why projects don't have their own membership....

                   

                  Best

                  Frank

                    • Re: How are you using Social Groups?
                      Jeff Crump

                      Thanks again Frank.

                       

                      In our case, Jive pre-dates our intranet, which is Drupal-based. We have been using SBS primarily for online collaboration since 2007, starting out with an earlier product called Jive Integrated Server, then migrating to Clearspace, and finally to SBS just a few months ago. Social groups will be a new feature within an established structure, so one of our challenges is to clearly define what they are and how to use them, not only for members but for folks looking for information. I like what you've outline above. My sense is that our social groups will look like a combination of watercooler-type gropus, communities of interest, and groups outside of the social structure... now just to define that...

                       

                      You mention 4 types of social groups. Is there ever a question of what type group is appropriate for what situation (social group vs. community of interest vs COP)?

                       

                      Some background on our site structure: We have three types of spaces: Communities of Practice (people coming together around a subject), Virtual Teams (people working together on a project or as part of a defined working group), and Clearspace Help. The latter is just our Q&A and help area, tutorials we've created, etc. Our COPs and Virtual Teams are top-level spaces with about 40-100 subspaces each.  The subspaces, which are the communities and teams, operate automonously once they've been created by a site admin. At least one trained space administrator is the prerequisite for getting a space to work in. The training explains permissions, subspaces, administrative tools, and how to keep your space "healthy". Over time the spaces have developed organically in response to evolving needs within the organization.

                       

                      This is where "control" versus "shared power and responsibility" comes in (nicely put, by the way): We want people to succeed with the fewest number of roadblocks, but part of our concern is that folks will turn to social groups as a way of getting started without going through the process of creating a formal COP or Virtual Team. Since COPs and Virtual Teams are spaces, not social groups for us, they exist on a different part of the site, creating another place to look for information.

                       

                      We already have some spaces that don't comfortably fit into COPs or Virtual Teams, and some users have expressed confusion about where to go (COP or Virtual Team, but also within the overall landscape of information resources: digital library, intranet, online learning center, specialized tools for the non-profit sector that we've created). Have your users expressed any confusion about where to ~find~ social groups, and when to go there as opposed to other places on your site?

                       

                      We're planning to do a test group soon (of the running club variety). This should help us begin to understand how our users think about social groups and how they need to be able to use them. We're also hoping that participation in social groups will make our users feel more comfortable about participating in the site at large (in COPs for example, sharing what they know). I'll post what we find out!

                       

                      Many thanks,
                      Jeff

                        • Re: How are you using Social Groups?
                          sgemmell

                          Jeff, Frank, thanks for the discussion, it is helpful. I like the idea of communities of practice and interests, that's a nice way to organize.

                           

                          Sue

                          • Re: How are you using Social Groups?
                            Frank Gebhardt

                            Hi Jeff,

                             

                            You mention 4 types of social groups. Is there ever a question of what type group is appropriate for what situation (social group vs. community of interest vs COP)?

                            We don't differentiate the type of group with their technical creation. All groups have standard Jive functionality. The 4 types are only help for people when to create a group and what is appropriate content. This ties in quite nicely with your second question

                            Have your users expressed any confusion about where to ~find~ social groups, and when to go there as opposed to other places on your site?

                            Yes, we experienced a frantic growths in groups over the first few months. Some were not appropriate as groups and should have been spaces. However it helped with the adoption of a new tool and got people over the "too difficult" and "why should I change" stage. It required later to talk with the group owners and space administrators and consolidate spaces and groups. The other downside was that people who came in late - we call them second phase adopters - found the new Jive environment confusing and not well organised. Search versus hierarchy to find stuff was too much of a change for the more "mature" audience. Hence we re-structured our governance team and are now in the phase of standardising space and group layouts. In addition we plan to adopt SAP's idea of the "SAP mentors".

                             

                            We will know in a few months how we go.

                             

                            cheers

                            Frank

                              • Re: How are you using Social Groups?
                                Jeff Crump

                                Many thanks for all of your insights. Regarding the search vs hierarchy issue: we have been surprised at how little the searchbox and popular tags widgets get used at all. Our users tend to go to the space they want and scroll through the list of content to find what they need. (This makes it tricky to actually disseminate information in our SBS instance because unless it appears in Recent Content on the home page, it gets buried within a space.)

                                 

                                The SAP mentors link is great food for thought. Thanks for sharing!

                                 

                                Best regards,
                                Jeff