Knowledge is gold, as is evidenced by the communities

Chris Stapper - Community Manager

Community Manager Chris Stapper (35) is building strong IT communities at Rabobank, where colleagues exchange knowledge about specific themes. The purpose: to share and apply our inhouse knowledge as broadly as possible. With about 6,000 IT staff that's quite a job, Chris can confirm.

“Imagine: as a developer you are working with a new tool, but after a while you wonder if you’ve set it up optimally. Of course you can then delve into the functionalities yourself. However, it’s a waste of time to reinvent the wheel when there are colleagues at the bank who are expert users of the tool. But try finding that person in a company employing 6,000 IT staff! I make sure that IT staff at the bank can find each other when they have specific IT-related questions.”

“I do that by setting up new communities where necessary and maintaining the existing ones. We organise events, workshops and recurring meetings to keep one another informed. And that’s necessary, as we are working in a large organisation with many wishes, ideas and working methods. In the communities we share best practices and come up with new plans. Rabobank is a frontrunner in this respect.”

I think it’s great that you can act rapidly here when you have a good idea.
Chris Stapper

The need for a Python community

“A nice example: a Python community was set up in no time the other day. An increasing number of people at the bank are working with this programming language, and I was wondering if they might feel the need to spar with each other about this. I put the question to a large group of developers, and I soon got reactions from all corners of the bank. Many colleagues said they thought it was great to exchange more knowledge about Python.”

“I then organised an event to get all those interested at the table together. There was plenty to talk about! All kinds of problems and solutions were exchanged at an incredible speed. You then realise that such a community adds value for its member immediately. And that’s what I like about my job: that I can help people wanting to learn to continue in their development.”

A visit from Uncle Bob

“The communities not only exist to enhance the expertise within the bank. They also help to discover which knowledge is still missing. When we organise an event, we gauge in the communities what people feel they need. Last year the highly regarded American software developer Robert C. Martin, also known as Uncle Bob, came to visit us. He dealt with a number of themes that had been put forward by our developers. It was a great success! If the knowledge exchange in the organisation is well structured, you get a good idea of the knowledge that is still missing. That enables you to organise speakers and workshops in a very targeted way. That’s another way in which communities add a lot of value!”

Cool idea built within one month

“A couple of months ago, a colleague from the ‘quality software community’ pitched a concept for building the Dynatrace unbreakable pipeline. After the presentation someone shouted: ‘I know for whom this is relevant!’ And someone else offered to build it. I find that kind of enthusiasm incredibly cool. The concept was developed within just one month. There was a lot of interest during the presentation of the pipeline: it attracted more than one hundred Rabobank staff. I think it’s great that you can act rapidly here when you have a good idea.”