The FMIS Community of Practice Moves On
Posted by Cem Dener
September 2013 marked the 3rd anniversary of the Financial Management Information Systems (FMIS) Community of Practice (CoP). Thanks to the continued support and participation of a diverse group of practitioners, the FMIS CoP has become an increasingly relevant and steadily growing community.
Etienne Wenger summarizes Communities of Practice (CoP) as “groups of people who share a concern or a passion for something they do and learn how to do it better as they interact regularly.” Three components are required in order to be a CoP: (i) the domain, (ii) the community, and (iii) the practice. The FMIS “domain” is an integral part of e-Government initiatives. The FMIS “community” benefits from a website to share knowledge and enable members to learn from each other. FMIS “practitioners” interact through CoP events and the website to improve the quality and performance of their activities by exchanging information on good practices, and experiences gained in the design and implementation of FMIS solutions. The FMIS CoP is also focused on the development and dissemination of leading-edge knowledge products. All three components are essential to ensure the sustainability of the CoP platform.
During its first year, the FMIS CoP focused on establishing an internal network of World Bank Group staff and consultants to share the knowledge and experiences of the specialists involved in FMIS projects. The first major activity was the contribution of about 40 members of the CoP to the development of a comprehensive FMIS Study. As a part of this study, an FMIS Database was developed and posted on the CoP website in August 2010. The database presents detailed information on all FMIS projects funded by the World Bank since 1984 (currently 109 projects from 60 countries), and is updated bi-annually. By the end of 2011, the CoP had about 140 members.
During the second year, the CoP expanded its membership to about 470 by inviting government officials, other development partners, consultants, and solution providers into the network, to learn more about country experiences and share good practices. Members of the CoP participated in several international conferences and workshops to share experiences and introduce available knowledge products. In the meantime, the FMIS Study was translated into nine languages and posted on the CoP web site, together with information on other knowledge sharing and learning events. Several events were organized for FMIS project teams and country officials, focusing on the design of country-specific FMIS solutions and implementation challenges.
Last year, in response to the demand from several regions, and considering the growing interest in open budget data (OBD), the Bank initiated a new study to explore the impact of FMIS on budget transparency. CoP members contributed to this study which included several case studies and an analysis of how citizen participation and other initiatives might be used to improve transparency. The FMIS and Open Budget Data Study was published in September 2013. The FMIS and OBD data set presents the evidence collected through 40 indicators from 198 government public finance web sites about the use of 176 FMIS platforms in publishing open budget data. Additionally, the FMIS World Map was developed to provide rapid access to 176 FMIS platforms through Google Maps.
Some of the FMIS CoP members from Albania, Cambodia, Philippines, and Vietnam were among the government officials participating in the Greater Than Leadership Program for FMIS (GTL4FMIS), which was developed in 2012 by the World Bank Institute’s Leadership Group, and the Poverty Reduction and Economic Management Network’s Governance and Public Sector Management Practice, with support from the Korean Ministry of Strategy and Finance. Following a one-week workshop in Seoul in December 2012, three country teams initiated several Rapid Results Initiatives to address key challenges in their FMIS projects starting from early 2013. The initial results of these initiatives were presented through a Learning and Results Forum in Washington, DC in October 2013. Such fora and programs are expected to sharpen the problem solving skills of CoP members, and provide an opportunity to learn more about practical tools for addressing the challenges in designing and implementing FMIS solutions. GTL4FMIS program documents and presentations were posted on the CoP web site as well.
By October 2013, the number of CoP members had risen to about 695 from 118 countries. The membership includes 335 country officials, 273 World Bank staff, 29 development partners, 28 individual consultants, and 30 solution providers. About two-thirds of the CoP members are based in country, and the remaining one-third in Washington, DC. The CoP website provides access to the latest versions of the knowledge products (studies, databases, Google Maps, etc.) summarized above. Up to October 2013, 23 CoP meetings have been held in Washington, DC, using video links and web conferencing for remote connections from country offices. 19 workshops/training sessions have been held (13 in the regions; 6 in Washington), and CoP members have participated in six large regional conferences. The presentations of knowledge sharing and learning events (FMIS CoP meetings, seminars and workshops) are posted on the website.
As we look towards the fourth year of the FMIS CoP, further growth of interest and participation in community activities can be confidently expected. In response to the feedback from CoP members through a recently completed online survey, we plan to focus more on adaptive (non-technical) challenges, rapid deployment of core FMIS platforms in difficult settings, and using a rapid results approach to improve the implementation performance of FMIS projects.
 Senior Public Sector Specialist (World Bank), and the FMIS CoP Coordinator.
 Lave, J., & Wenger, E. (1998). Communities of Practice: Learning, Meaning, and Identity: Cambridge University Press.
 Cem Dener, Joanna A. Watkins, and William L. Dorotinsky, Financial Management Information Systems: 25 Years of World Bank Experience on What Works and What Doesn’t, World Bank Study, April 2011.
 Cem Dener, and Saw Young Min. Financial Management Information Systems and Open Budget Data: Do Governments Report on Where the Money Goes? Washington, DC. World Bank Study, September 2013. License: Creative Commons Attribution CC BY 3.0.