Migration of BDP Networks to Teamworks

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This is a message a sent to the KM team on the above subject.

Although I have not seen any official communication from the KM team, I have heard from my DGG KM colleagues that all BDP networks are supposed to be fully migrated into the new TW platform by 1 March. I also have no idea how this date was set nor if such decision was based on any concrete analysis, business plan, etc. and/or in consultation with the people that run the networks. As you know, I am one of those people and, for my part, I have not been involved in any of the discussions that have led to this decision.

Being that as it may, I do have a few concerns that I wanted to raise for

your consideration.

1. As I said before, I still think the new platform needs further refinement. I still find it not as easy to use as other social networking platforms. This simple fact introduces a few entry barriers that might delay the massive migration of users to the new technologies. I do think we need to migrate all relevant work to TW. But at the same time, I think we should do our best to reduce the entry barriers.

2. It is still not clear to me how the networks are expected to function in the new platform. I did a few tests last year and send you and your team a series of comments and suggestions on this. I was indeed testing how the ICTD Network could be migrated to TW and concluded back then that it was still a bit premature to do so.

3. Some of the required functionality is not yet there, nor has it ever been tested. For example, there needs to be a way of allowing users to still post messages and information via email using the same old email addresses of the network. I am aware that this is not difficult to do in a platform such as Drupal but it is not there. We should not expect that end users are going to stop using email in 24 hours. Experience tell us otherwise. So let us be realistic.

4. Other issues include notifications (I am still getting duplicate notifications) and the need for making the digest feature fully functional. This seems to be essential to entice people to use the new platforms, etc.

5. The other large issue that seems to be looming is moderation. Although I am not a fan of this feature, I do think that communities and networks should be able to decide among themselves if they should have (or not) moderation. Again, these are bottom-up tools and communities should make such decisions. This is a bit like having private and public groups which BTW we do already have. We should thus be able to offer options to users so they can self-manage their networks and communities

6. As with any transition process, I think we should have at least four states: 1) a transition plan consulted with key stakeholders; 2) a pilot for one or two of the networks, followed by an assessment, etc; this should minimize the migration of all other networks; 3) a period of co-existence between the old and the new platform; and 4) complete migration to a better and more effective network platform.

7. Migrating successful networks such as our own DGP-Net in a hurry do introduce high risks that can end killing the network. I do not think DGG will be very happy if this happened. We thus need to make sure that we can smoothly transition without having to jeopardize what we have. Bear in mind that we are talking about people here -not technology. I am sure we will find champions of the new platform in most networks. But on the other hand, we will also have quite a few people (the majority) who will not change the way they interact today in a blink of an eye. We need to ensure that they move along and for that we do need to go the extra mile to make this happen. And tight deadlines such as the one established for the completion of the migration of all BDP networks might not be the best way to successfully move forward.

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