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

Advisor

keckhoff.png

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 Group owners would leave the company or change roles, and groups were no longer active or responsibly managed, so we ended up with a lot of those.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

6 Comments
Boss

Thanks so much for all this!  Awesome stuff. I could write a novel with questions and don’t feel you have to answer them all 😂

  • How do you moderate the groups?
  • What’s the largest group hubs you have?  What’s the average?
  • How do users find the group hubs?  Do you do any recommendations of sorts to drive the right folks to the right groups?
  • How do you decide when it’s time to close down a group if it isn’t going anywhere?
  • What happens when a group owner ghosts the group?
  • How are you measuring success with the groups?
  • What’s your archive/delete process look like for old group hubs? Do you delete the nodes and content when done with them? 
  • Any cool technical customizations you’ve done to make life easier or improving the experience within hubs?
  • Are you using email invites or private message invites for hubs?  If you’ve tried email, what results have you seen over messaging?
  • how big is the team supporting Groups?
  • When Khoros has functionality broken like not being able to invite over 1000+ users for months into a hub, how do you work around those bugs/limitations with such a large user base? (If it impacts you at all?)

We’re probably into the 150+ range since launching at the start of the year,  and will easily reach that 1000+ range next year as we stop holding back and let users request their own spaces, so very cool to see it being used at scale.

Mentor

Hi @keckhoff - I have been a huge fan of GroupHubs since they were teased years ago, and have really worked on implementing them since. 

I wonder if you have seen a difference in engagement strategy for Open/Closed/Hidden - do you use all these styles or have you found a particular set that works best for you?

Advisor

@StanGromer happy to answer your questions!

  • How do you moderate the groups? - We require anyone requesting a group to do moderation of said group. Our team is relatively small in comparison to our community and we rely heavily on our group owners to manage their groups.
  • What’s the largest group hubs you have?  What’s the average? - Our largest group has ~8700 members and we have several others in the 6 and 7K range.
  • How do users find the group hubs?  Do you do any recommendations of sorts to drive the right folks to the right groups? - This was a problem in the past. When we migrated to Khoros we created a Suggested Groups page. When a member completes their profile and populates a Function and Product Offering field we then display a listing of groups to them based on those selections. It has helped some but we have quite a few members who haven't updated their profile so there's a gap. We have plans to integrate with Salesforce to auto-populate those fields later this year though.
  • How do you decide when it’s time to close down a group if it isn’t going anywhere? We try and do semi-annual reviews, or at the very least annual reviews, of the community to see if there are groups with no activity in the last 12 months. If there are we archive them. We just have an Archive category that we move everything to for right now. Since we purged a lot of data prior to our migration there aren't a ton yet so in another year we will need to clean up the archive as well.
  • What happens when a group owner ghosts the group? Ideally there is more than one group owner so that doesn't happen. However, it is a thing unfortunately. We find when this happens the group is likely not being utilized anyways and typically gets archived when we do our reviews.
  • How are you measuring success with the groups? This is a hard one right now as we are still working on our analytics. In the past have looked at participation (# of posts, unanswered questions, etc.) 
  • What’s your archive/delete process look like for old group hubs? Do you delete the nodes and content when done with them? - The same as above, we have an Archive category we utilize to move stuff to.
  • Any cool technical customizations you’ve done to make life easier or improving the experience within hubs? - We have created some custom content components for our group hubs and added a tabbed layout. I'll add a screenshot in a separate comment to show you.
  • Are you using email invites or private message invites for hubs?  If you’ve tried email, what results have you seen over messaging? - I just enabled the email feature last week so I don't have a lot of feedback on that. Historically the group owners have invited by username (private message) or if there is a large amount we have done an import via the admin console. 
  • how big is the team supporting Groups? - Our development team is me, 5 developers, and a project manager.
  • When Khoros has functionality broken like not being able to invite over 1000+ users for months into a hub, how do you work around those bugs/limitations with such a large user base? (If it impacts you at all?) - See above regarding invitations.

 

Our Group Info tab has an announcements widget and a formatted text widget for group owners to provide any information they need to display about the group up front.

Screen Shot 2022-07-28 at 10.02.05 AM.png

The Resources tab provides product-specific information the group owners can link out to. The resources can be edited and there is a list of icons the owners can select from to use based on the resource they want to display.

Screen Shot 2022-07-28 at 10.02.28 AM.png

The Reporting tab only displays to group owners and generates basic information about the group. This is a snapshot view while we continue to build out our more in-depth reports in Power Bi.

Screen Shot 2022-07-28 at 10.02.43 AM.png

Advisor

@tylerebay we utilize all of the group types. Most of our groups are open simply because they are product groups and we want our clients to find them easily. We use closed groups for any client or org-specific information needed to collaborate, and hidden groups are used sparingly. It all really depends on the purpose of the group though and the person requesting the group is the one who decides the type.

Let me know if you have any other questions.

Advisor

@keckhoff-

Great blog - thanks for sharing. Going to make my GroupManager GroupHub now. (was on the back-burner until today). 🙂

I'm plunging around doing some research on GroupHubs and this blog post is in the wheelhouse. I wonder if you have any thoughts?

RE: this answer to @StanGromer .
Any cool technical customizations you’ve done to make life easier or improving the experience within hubs? - We have created some custom content components for our group hubs...

I am taking it SUPER slow with groups. The tech is new but our community is old. We prefer to have most (all?) of our Forum content and TKB content at the top of the community, no fragmentation. Our products are so 'enterprise' that trying to separate them would almost inevitably duplicate conversations and make connecting dots difficult. We rely (relatively successfully) on TAGS and Labels.

That said, I'm running a "product-based" group hub experiment for one of our more self-contained offerings.
AND
we think it makes sense to have the Forum managed in that group (based on volume and future planned syndication) BUT NOT the TKB section. We want to still Manage all TKB content at the top of the community (for discoverablity and administrative simplicity).

Do you (or does Khoros) happen to have any componentry to put say...a dedicated Community TKB Activity feed (looking at specific tags/labels) in the home page of the respective GroupHub?

TL;DR of the idea:

Community TKB
1) Content for Product A
2) Content for Product B
3) Content for Product C

GroupHub for Product A
* Product A Forum
* a Feed OF TKB's with TAG(s) for PRODUCT A drawn from Community TKB.

 

thanks again and great work.

Advisor

@Lief unfortunately I'm not well-versed on boards at the category/community level. I would love to get feedback on how other communities manage those as it's not something we do currently.

Hoping others can join in on this conversation.

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‎07-28-2022 02:23 PM
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