Anyone have/run a community of practice?


(Rosie) #1

I’ve seen people here and there mention Community of Practices and how some are run internally within a company.

I would love to hear some stories around this.

Do you run or participate in one?
What does it look like?
How has it helped?
What challenges have you had?
What has worked well?
What useful resources have you come across?

I have this book on my reading list - https://www.amazon.co.uk/Building-Successful-Communities-Practice-Organisations-ebook/dp/B01BYH07P0/


(Jesper) #2

What is the difference between a community and a team/service center? To me a community would be people within testing but with different line managers and on different projects/products. In one org. I was once a place where we had a Competence manager, making it a project/line/competence (3d) matrix org. Recently I am working where we are joining the test people in the geographic locations in one team instead of across teams. That is making a huge impact on knowledge sharing etc.

Perhaps a community is more loose - around a shared sharing platform (“theClub”, yammer, slack) that you volunteer into - rather than assigned to? reminds me of these old pieces: https://jlottosen.wordpress.com/2012/10/06/tips-and-tricks-for-community-building/ https://jlottosen.wordpress.com/2012/01/19/lego-community-key-social-media-lessons/


(Ady) #3

Hi Rosie, I did a talk on how we developed a community of practice we called Test Xchange at the last Leeds Test Atelier. You might find how we approached developing our backlog using a risk based technique useful. We have a loose agenda of lightning talks, discussions, presentations and test challenges for sharing information. It’s helped in lots of ways from raising awareness for things like accessibility to practical group help for challenges or approaches to new work. I hope you find it useful and I’m happy to try to answer any questions you might have.


(Rosie) #4

Not sure what you specifically mean by a team/service center.

A community, for me, would be where any could potentially join (from within the company, probably) to contribute and learn about testing and things related to testing within the company.

I believe community or practices tend to be volunteer led, ie - not forced. But would love to hear stories of how people are doing things.


(Simon Godfrey) #5

I’m interested in this as well. As Test Manager, I’ve been asked to build a Community or Practice or Test Chapter within our organisation.

I understand this to mean I provide a place/space for people who have an interest and passion for testing to discuss and debate testing tools, techniques and trends with the overall goal of improving testing within our org.

I would also welcome input and an ongoing discussion within this thread as it’s something I’m going to be focussing on for the next few months because we don’t have anything in place that spans our local and remote sites.


(Jesper) #6

A specific organisational unit of test people, that is assigned to projects in a matrix org. One might define the project activities as “services”. aka the Test Excellence Center.


(Simon Godfrey) #7

Update, I posted in September '17 about starting a Test COP within our Org and it’s 6 months on.

Where we’re at:

  • I launched/announced the idea of a Test COP to the team in January
  • Created a Sack group to facilitate conversation across a range of topics
  • Created a 3-weekly Test Sync to discuss test topics. This is lead by the team not the Test Manager (me) although I set up the first meeting and kicked it off with a view on a vision for a Test COP.

We have testers across different teams (Delivery Teams / Squads) and whilst testers talk they can be fairly siloed in their teams. Collaboration within Slack has been slow but our first meeting last month generated LOTS of discussion after a simple question about DoD - so there’s something there.

We have our second meeting coming up and our company is moving more toward Slack for communication. The channel had been fairly quiet but it is an additional comms channel in addition to Skype and Zoom so I’m not too surprised that it’s been slow to start.


(Ana) #8

Hi there,
Yes, i’m also in the same pot, and i’ve got here cause i need help. :slight_smile:
At the beginning i joined as a regular member into this idea of a Community in our country (Macedonia) thinking i was interesting to check it out, and slowly i became/remained the one that is practically driving it forward for the past 2.5 years. It’s not an “online-focused” community, but more focused on the physical gatherings and sharing.

What it helped:

  • building continuity: at the beginning we didn’t have a plan of what we’re doing, it was pretty chaotic, but after re-structuring it, we gave a clear picture of what is planned to do for the next 6-12 months.
  • improve the way we keep in touch with the members: FB, LinkedIn, mail newsletter.
  • making it more transparent: giving more info about the events/gatherings, sharing materials, pointing our exact target skills, giving more info about the presenters
  • diversifying the types of events: technical presentations, workshops, personal development/soft skills coaching sessions, opened themed discussions, beer meetings.

What doesn’t work:

  • can’t make people to interact/participate: give feedback; ask questions; come to gatherings: people just sit back and wait for someone to give them something all the time
  • finding people that want to get involved: it’s hard to run something by yourself, without people that want to take ownership on pieces of work and treat it accordingly, responsibly.
  • still resisting the idea to register it as an organization and get into more responsibility of dealing with accounting, finances, taxes, sponsorship etc.
  • can’t attract senior QAs and testers to share and participate.

My biggest challenge is the people that don’t see the benefit of sharing things, and me resisting the idea that i have to sell something to this community (idea, knowledge etc) instead of growing out of a need of its own.


(Ana) #9

@sgodfrey81, Like what?
And how do you not run out of topics while gathering every 3 weeks?


(Simon Godfrey) #10

Hi Ana,

We ask our testers to present on work that they’re undertaking within their Delivery (Scrum) Teams. At other times I talk to the group about thoughts & directions for Test Engineering and we also did a 2018 roundup in the meeting before Xmas.

This meeting is once per month, not every 3 weeks as I stated above.


(Ana) #11

Thank you, Simon! Got that, and it makes sense; just i’m thinking it’s a bit more complicated it to expect that from people that are not in the same company all together to share what they do at work…
So i guess it’s a bit of a different approach for different types of communities.