What is the value of a community and how do you measure it? This question was addressed recently by Farida Hasanali, in her post, Communities of Practice ROI. She writes the APQC Knowledge Management blog and supports their knowledge management community. She was tasked this past month by her organization with return on investment proof for her community.
She was able to prove that community members are active APQC product and services buyers. She also could show that community members are tenured APQC members. These are the two principal revenue generating activities of the organization. However, correlation does not prove casuation and she could not know for sure if their membership and product purchases would have occurred at the same rate without the community. So Farida looked at the added value of the community in more personal ways. As she writes:
“The KM community consists of tenured APQC members with purchasing power. I have several testimonials from community members that express this value sentiment. I cannot prove that my community makes them buy or makes them stay, but what I do want to try is to get them more involved and to expand the community offerings so that I can attract more members like these. Because my hypothesis is the more involved members I have the greater the probability of additional purchases and of membership renewal.”
Her management at APQC agreed and provided continued funding and support for her community building efforts which include her blog. She plans to have a better connection between her blog and her portion of the APQC web site and to introduc some more innovations in both. Nice to see a happy ending and I look forwrad to see what she does with this renewed commitement of support.