I'm with K12, an online education company, and we've recently implemented Clearspace Community for the students, parents, teachers and administrators who use our education curriculm and platform. We did a strategy workshop with Jive at the outset of the project, and found it to be incredibly valuable in helping us to refine our requirements, to understand how different tools in Clearspace could be leveraged creatively to meet our needs, and to develop a strategy for the entire process, from configuration of the software, to admin user training and content population, to end-user rollout.
Given the enormous scope of our community, we chose to address our needs in multiple phases of development. Because the first workshop was so valuable, we plan to do a second, abbreviated one to kick off our next phase of development so we can take into consideration what we've learned from the initial (overwhelmingly successful) roll-out.
I'd be happy to talk to you more about our experience if it's helpful. Erskine has my contact info, and he's welcome to pass it along.
I don't do work in the UK, so don't consider this a pitch, but overall, I think that early strategy work is critical to successful communities.
The problem I keep seeing is misalignment of the overall enterprise strategy, technology strategy, and community strategy - all of which have be aligned and mutually reinforcing for communities to take hold and flourish.
You are going to spend a lot of energy and money building the community, and if there isn't some clear value delivered for whoever is spending that energy and money - and if that value doesn't align well with the value sought by the people you want to participate in your community - how can you expect it to succeed?
So yes, absolutely, I'd reccommend taking the time to get the strategy right before you jump into the pool.
I think I'm an exception... I truly agree with the sentiment that strategy is important, but I haven't tapped Jive to help with this. We feel we got a pretty good handle on our strategy during our lengthy POC (proof of concept) with Clearspace. By the time it came time to decide on additional services from Jive, we felt we had a pretty good idea of what we are doing.
So I think it depends how comfortable you feel about your implementation plan. By all means, focus on strategy and develop a plan -- it's key to success.
We're just in the process of launching a clearspace powered community and had some strategy consultancy from Jive. The workshops were a useful way of focussing the rest of the business on the realities of a community and to get their buy in on how to develop and build it. There were some useful take outs and learnings and it certainly helped us move forward from a process and business perspective.
I think it is always worth getting some advice although the software vendor may tend to focus around there own strengths for obvious reasons. It is worth talking to other Jive and non-Jive customers who have done similar projects particularly in the UK as Jive being US centric will not have the knowledge of the UK mindset etc.
I'm sure Jive may not agree with this last comment but with many years of working with US software vendors this will be the case; nothing bad just a little different! Hope that helps.
Just to report back - we did go ahead with the strategy consultancy - which had some good and bad points.
The +ve: it encouraged us to think beyond the question of what can the system do and how to set it up, and think more about how we might encourage the use of Clearspace within our environment in the short and long term.
The -ve points are: for us it involved too much jargon and a unfamiliar vocabulary set. Not just a UK vs USA difference, but also it was very "sales" orientated.Concept like "engagement models" didn't mean anything to us at the time of the workshop. Also, concept like "what makes people come" to your community tool is not very relevant when are users have to come, as its part of their assessment.
The second problem, which is mostly our problem, is that we have 3 main use cases for Clearspace, which are quite different so it was difficult to cover all of them in the two days.
That said, we are planning to use the report to inform and support our roll-out strategy.
Most of the concepts covered in the workshop come from Groundswell
You know what I would really like to see? Outlines or summaries of approaches taken by various consultants when advising companies who are setting up communities. Not looking for you to give away the farm, of course, but you could tell us your general approach and philsophy. Some who read the descriptions just may call and bring you in!
No problem with that; we give away a lot of info for free anyway. We have a free report 'Social media in the workplace' which is a pretty good start point.