At the outset, when the team is still small, all interaction is based on personal contacts. But as the team grows, these contacts are interrupted. Over time, the question arises, ‘How to maintain synchrony in architecture, technology, standards, and process tasks?’ The answer is to implement the Community of Practice approach.
|💡 Communities of Practice (CoPs) are professional groups regularly collaborating to exchange information, develop competencies, increase productivity, and strengthen general knowledge in their domains.
Specialized CoP teams act as processes and standards synchronization centers, accumulate knowledge, and develop competencies within Rocketech.
We prepared our guide on developing a Community of Practice in a remote team and the main mistakes in implementing this project. Our approach can help business owners avoid these mistakes and discover unique opportunities for their employees to influence company development.
Creating a Community of Practice: Basic Mistakes
Like many teams, we started creating the Community of Practice on a volunteer basis. Recognizing the need for specialists to share their experiences, we suggested that team leads undertake the project themselves. However, this turned out a common mistake, as assigning responsibility for community management and development to just one leader is not ideal.
Moreover, it is not enough to merely offer your employees a chance to share experiences. It is crucial to endorse this concept and establish an environment fostering its growth. At the start of the project, you need the resources for launching and organizing systematic community work, implementing community-generated ideas, and ensuring meetings’ regularity and format.
This is how our Scrum masters’ time became such a valuable resource. They were involved in the project and took over the management and support functions.
The Scrum Team Contributions
To improve efficiency and productivity, our Scrum team worked on various initiatives. Here are some of the results:
- The Community of Practice concept;
- Development of the structure and number of communities within Rocketech;
- Methodology for work planning within the community;
- A list of the company’s priority tasks (at the launch period), which each community could take on.
The start of the project showed that the decision to increase the resources and invite the Scrum team to manage the project was the right one. It made it possible to ensure systematic and regular community work. Sometimes, you should invest extra time and effort to get a functional product.
Communities of Practice 3.0: Rocketech’s Blueprint for Building Stronger Teams
Communities of Practice are based on the initiative of people willing and able to share and transfer knowledge. We keep this principle despite our communities shifting from self-management to Scrum-team management. The mission of the CoP project is to create a space that encourages people to develop professionally and help others to do so.
As for now, we have launched four specific communities:
- Business Analytics;
- Quality Assurance.
Our short-term plans include launching the OS community.
All communities follow the global goal — to ensure the highest quality level when executing projects. “Quality” in the project context means:
- The development and implementation of standards and ensuring compliance with them for each competency.
- Devising the competence working principles.
- Organizing your work by creating libraries and directories, setting up a repository, and adding specific problem cases to the database to standardize your workflow and accumulate practical experience for future projects.
- Introduction of mentoring and support practices.
- Developing the culture of learning and mentoring within the company (including workshops, case studies, and joint work on complex tasks as part of the Communities of Practice).
|The whole community idea is based on two main functions:
📌 The project function is knowledge systematization and workflow standardization.
📌 The current function is to become a shared knowledge center where team members can receive mentorship from experienced developers and managers, seek advice, and share their own experiences.
“The emotional component of Communities of Practice is the opportunity for developers to feel that they are not alone in the challenges and difficulties of their project. The community will ensure the chosen solution is correct and help people avoid feeling lonely and isolated. It is crucial for remote work and projects without large teams and many specialists of the same profile.”
The Positive Impact of Communities of Practice on Working Conditions
The initiative added several regular meetings to the project participants’ calendars and made their lives more colorful. The reason is simple: they personally create a new reality and influence changes in the company.
All the community work implies a specific algorithm. First, each group sets goals for the month. They present these goals to the CoP team lead (as mentioned above, this person is not a community member but a Scrum team representative).
The criterion for choosing a goal is the impact on improving the quality of our work. It refers to the quality of code, processes, and team interaction — the overall quality at every project development stage.
According to the task volume, the participants agree on the working meetings’ frequency and format. During these meetings, the teams discuss interim results and form the backlog for the next one.
Working meetings take place once a week. Moreover, the community gathers at a set time to present the monthly results.
Let’s take our CoP tasks for July 2022 as an example.
- The CoP Scrum Master: Developing a shared understanding of customer-oriented service for the whole team.
- The CoP Business Analytics: Standardizing the processes to improve interaction with the customer and increase service quality.
- The CoP Backend: Updating the standards for the initial development project stages.
- The CoP Quality Assurance: Updating the standards for working with bug maintaining documentation to improve testing quality.
Based on the goals, we determined the tasks for each specific area and could quickly see the first results. For example, CoP Scrum Master implemented a new approach to working with customer expectations.
“It is vital to organize effective interaction between the customer and the team at the initial stage. We plan to conduct continuous reviews between the product owner and the team to move in sync. We are proud of this block as it will positively impact the entire project.”
The CoP Business Analytics also quickly proved effective. The team created Development Standards for projects and interviews with candidates for a BA position in the company. The next improvement point is the Discovery process.
“The Community of Practice is the Dedicated Team’s key component. The more well-developed internal competence we have (for example, BA or QA), the more competitive we are and the better service we offer to customers. Thus, the successful CoP launch and the development of quality improvement approaches in all areas are crucial for us.”
|Main Community Principles
✔ The CoP is voluntary — we don’t require participation. However, it is mandatory to follow the standards and processes developed by the community and attend the meetings at the end of the month to learn more about the implemented changes.
✔ The company pays for all tasks and project meetings.
✔ There is no command or task distribution. The communities themselves decide what needs to be done to improve the processes within their competence.
Specialized communities act as a classic hub where participants exchange experience, mentor newcomers, and discuss solutions and questions on current and new projects. It is where you can always find support and ask a friend for help
Our decision to create internal communities of practice has revolutionized the way we work, resulting in improved efficiency and quality across the board. By promoting a culture of collaboration and shared learning, we have seen a significant increase in the engagement, motivation, and satisfaction of our employees. We are proud to say that this innovative approach has enabled us to deliver outstanding results for our clients, and we will continue to embrace this philosophy to achieve even greater success in the future.