The FMIS Community of Practice Moves On

Posted by Cem Dener[1]

FMIS CoP banner
September 2013 marked the 3rd anniversaryof the Financial Management Information Systems (FMIS) Community of Practice(CoP). Thanks to the continued support and participation of a diverse group ofpractitioners, the FMIS CoP has become an increasingly relevant and steadily growingcommunity.

Etienne Wenger[2]summarizes Communities of Practice (CoP) as “groups of people who share aconcern or a passion for something they do and learn how to do it better asthey 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” isan integral part of e-Government initiatives. The FMIS “community” benefitsfrom a website to share knowledge and enablemembers to learn from each other. FMIS “practitioners” interact through CoPevents and the website to improve the quality and performance of their activitiesby exchanging information on good practices, and experiences gained in thedesign and implementation of FMIS solutions. The FMIS CoP is also focused onthe development and dissemination of leading-edge knowledge products. All threecomponents are essential to ensure the sustainability of the CoP platform.

During its first year, the FMIS CoPfocused on establishing an internal network of World Bank Group staff andconsultants to share the knowledge and experiences of the specialists involvedin FMIS projects. The first major activity was the contribution of about 40members of the CoP to the development of a comprehensive FMISStudy.[3] As a part of this study, an FMIS Database was developed and posted on theCoP website in August 2010. The database presents detailed information on allFMIS projects funded by the World Bank since 1984 (currently 109 projects from60 countries), and is updated bi-annually. By the end of 2011, the CoP hadabout 140 members.

During the second year, the CoP expandedits membership to about 470 by inviting government officials, other developmentpartners, consultants, and solution providers into the network, to learn moreabout country experiences and share good practices. Members of the CoPparticipated in several international conferences and workshops to share experiencesand introduce available knowledge products. In the meantime, the FMIS Study wastranslated into nine languages and posted on the CoP web site, together withinformation on other knowledge sharing and learning events. Several events wereorganized for FMIS project teams and country officials, focusing on the designof country-specific FMIS solutions and implementation challenges.

Last year, in response to thedemand from several regions, and considering the growing interest in open budgetdata (OBD), the Bank initiated a new study to explore the impact of FMIS onbudget transparency. CoP members contributed to this study which includedseveral case studies and an analysis of how citizen participation and otherinitiatives might be used to improve transparency. The FMISand Open Budget Data Study[4] was published in September 2013.The FMIS and OBD data set presents the evidence collected through40 indicators from 198 government public finance web sites about the use of 176FMIS platforms in publishing open budget data. Additionally, the FMIS World Map wasdeveloped to provide rapid access to 176 FMIS platforms through Google Maps.

Some of the FMIS CoP members fromAlbania, Cambodia, Philippines, and Vietnam were among the government officialsparticipating in the Greater ThanLeadership Program for FMIS (GTL4FMIS), which was developed in 2012 by theWorld Bank Institute’s Leadership Group, and the Poverty Reduction and EconomicManagement Network’s Governance and Public Sector Management Practice, withsupport from the Korean Ministry of Strategy and Finance. Following a one-weekworkshop in Seoul in December 2012, three country teams initiated several RapidResults Initiatives to address key challenges in their FMIS projects startingfrom early 2013. The initial results of these initiatives were presented througha Learning and Results Forum in Washington,DC in October 2013. Such fora and programs are expected to sharpen the problemsolving skills of CoP members, and provide an opportunity to learn more about practicaltools for addressing the challenges in designing and implementing FMISsolutions. GTL4FMIS program documents and presentations were posted on the CoPweb site as well.

By October 2013, the number of CoP members had risen to about 695 from118 countries. The membership includes 335 country officials, 273 World Bankstaff, 29 development partners, 28 individual consultants, and 30 solutionproviders. About two-thirds of the CoP members are based in country, and theremaining one-third in Washington, DC. TheCoP website provides access to the latest versions of the knowledge products (studies, databases, Google Maps, etc.) summarized above. Up toOctober 2013, 23 CoP meetings have been held in Washington, DC, using videolinks and web conferencing for remote connections from country offices. 19workshops/training sessions have been held (13 in the regions; 6 in Washington),and CoP members have participated in six large regional conferences. The presentationsof knowledge sharing and learningevents (FMIS CoPmeetings, seminarsand workshops) areposted on the website.

As we look towards the fourth yearof the FMIS CoP, further growth of interest and participation in community activitiescan be confidently expected. In response to the feedback from CoP membersthrough a recently completed online survey, we plan to focus more on adaptive(non-technical) challenges, rapid deployment of core FMIS platforms indifficult settings, and using a rapid results approach to improve theimplementation performance of FMIS projects.

[1]  Senior Public Sector Specialist (World Bank),and the FMIS CoP Coordinator.

[2]  Lave, J., & Wenger, E. (1998). Communitiesof Practice: Learning, Meaning, and Identity: Cambridge University Press.

[3]  Cem Dener, Joanna A. Watkins, and William L.Dorotinsky, Financial Management Information Systems: 25Years of World Bank Experience on What Works and What Doesn’t, WorldBank Study, April 2011.

[4]  Cem Dener, and Saw Young Min. Financial Management Information Systems andOpen Budget Data: Do Governments Report on Where the Money Goes? Washington,DC. World Bank Study, September 2013. License: Creative Commons Attribution CCBY 3.0.

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