Oracle Cerner’s Kandice Eckhoff: The Pros and Cons of Group Hubs



When Blake asked me to write about how our community manages our groups, I was not sure what to write about. We have had groups for so long at Oracle Cerner that we assumed everyone else does too.


My name is Kandice Eckhoff, and I am the Product Manager for our Khoros platform, Oracle Cerner. I have been with the company for almost 12 years in various roles and in my current position for six of those years.

uCern is Oracle Cerner's collaboration platform used for client-to-client and client-to-associate collaboration on our products and services, ideation, and assists with ticket deflection by providing answers to client questions.  

uCern was started in 2009 on the Jive platform, and at that time, we let anyone create a group. This was not a good idea. I would NEVER recommend this for a community. We ended up with groups like "Cat Lovers," "<Insert College Name> Alumni, "New Moms," and the like. While the intention at first was good, just getting people using the community, it quickly got out of control.  

We eventually locked down group creation. New groups are evaluated by our team and created based on business needs. By then though most of the damage was done, and our clients were complaining about search results pulling in random information or stale content. Group owners would leave the company or change roles, and groups were no longer active or responsibly managed, so we ended up with a lot of those. 


In 2018 we separated associate-only collaboration to help with some of the confusion. During this time, we archived groups, spaces, projects, etc. with no created content or activity within the prior year. Subsequently, when we started planning our migration to Khoros, we again started an archiving exercise to minimize the amount of data we would bring over. We were able to purge 55% of our groups because of this effort.  


When we migrated, we brought over 2,254 groups. That number has since grown as we have weekly requests for new ones. The need for them varies: private collaboration for specific clients and associates, aligning groups with our products, and associates realizing the need for collaboration on certain topics or markets we are in.

As you can imagine managing this number is difficult. Permissions are a nightmare, community engagement is difficult to monitor accurately, and the removal of the "old stuff" surfaced older stuff clients have found inaccurate. In turn, the cycle of constantly curating our content continues. We are repeatedly told no other Khoros client uses groups the same way we do, hence being the group hub unicorn.

So how do we manage this many groups? It is not easy. We are currently looking at archiving more inactive groups and realigning our community structure based on feedback we have received. Ideally, we will end up with 1:1 product groups and a couple hundred non-specific groups that remain for topics, regions, or are role specific.


For those of you that do use group hubs and now have access to manage the group role permissions at the global level…you're welcome. 🙂 
That was done at our request due to the number of groups we have and the time it took to update any changes since we had to do them manually. Thankfully, we have a team that can automate processes, and we were able to minimize the time spent making manual updates while Khoros built the functionality we needed.

Here is my advice to any community managers planning to implement group hubs: 

  • Have a plan - I know it seems like an easy decision, but you need a plan for who will handle creating the groups. Once they are created, who will monitor or curate the content? How do the groups fit into your community structure? Will you have groups at the global level, within categories, or a combination of the two?  
  • Plan for quarterly, semi-annual, or at the very least annual archiving of inactive groups.  
  • If you are the community manager, the responsibility to monitor the ENTIRE community should not fall on you. If someone requests a group, they need to own all the group responsibilities. That includes answering questions, finding the answer if they do not know it, posting at least weekly to keep the group active, and making sure group ownership is updated as needed.
  • Have a group dedicated to just group owners so you can communicate with them.


Take a look at the resources below to learn more about Group Hubs in Khoros Communities