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Ecosystem Mapping and Tracking

Exploring the Promise of Ecosystem Mapping and Tracking: A Shift from Networks to Communities

In the ever-evolving landscape of community partnerships, understanding and managing the intricate web of relationships is paramount. Network mapping and social network analysis (SNA) have long served as vital tools in discerning how our social connections influence outcomes we deeply care about.

Over the past three decades, SNA has solidified its place as a recognized method for evaluating and strategically managing collaborative networks. This methodological approach facilitates data-driven decisions, such as optimizing resource allocation and identifying key nodes and bridges within networks to leverage trust and strengthen partnerships.

However, the traditional network approach has its limitations. Often utilized as a “one and done” tool, it captures a snapshot of a network at a specific moment, akin to trying to understand the outcome of a football game from a still image taken in the second quarter. While some efforts extend to pre/post studies or repeat analyses, these are typically treated as discrete projects, not as part of a continuous tracking process that could provide real-time insights into community dynamics.

Recognizing these constraints, our team at Visible Network Labs (VNL) embarked on developing a tool that transcends traditional SNA by embracing a dynamic approach to data collection, mapping, and analysis. This evolution led to the inception of PARTNER CPRM 2.0, a platform designed not just to study but to continuously track community ecosystems.

From Bounded Networks to Inclusive Ecosystems

Another critical limitation of conventional network analysis is the concept of “bounding the network,” where decisions are made about who is included in or excluded from the network. This method often overlooks vital elements of the broader ecosystem, such as informal or non-member stakeholders who significantly impact community outcomes.

To address this, we shifted our perspective to ecosystem mapping, which utilizes SNA frameworks to understand entire community ecosystems, not limited by formal or informal memberships but defined by shared interests or impacts on community issues. This holistic view allows for the identification of sub-networks and subsystems, providing a more comprehensive understanding of community dynamics.

STANCE social network analysis research

Ecosystem Tracking: A New Paradigm

With these insights, we redefined our approach to focus on ecosystem tracking. This approach not only broadens the scope of who is included in our analyses but also tracks these ecosystems as they evolve over time. Such tracking empowers communities to better understand the structure of the systems they aim to influence and monitor changes—both organic and intervention-driven.

PARTNER CPRM, often likened to a community partner relationship management (CPRM) platform due to its relational focus, now enables organizations to use our network tools in ways similar to customer relationship management (CRM) systems. This alignment has been a significant development, informed by feedback from our partners and customers who sought to apply network insights more practically and continuously.

Empowering Communities with Advanced Tools

The PARTNER CPRM platform includes advanced features for ecosystem mapping and tracking, such as detailed member profiles, interaction tracking, and comprehensive network visualizations. These tools facilitate strategic community engagement, align system members toward common goals, and enhance communication and resource sharing across the community.

Learn More and Connect

We invite you to explore more about our ecosystem mapping and tracking capabilities at Visible Network Labs. By visiting the PARTNER CPRM homepage, reading detailed feature descriptions, or requesting a demo, you can see firsthand how our platform can transform your approach to community partnership management. Join us in connecting the dots and fostering a more connected, collaborative world.

At Visible Network Labs, we are committed to harnessing the power of network science to foster social connectedness and drive meaningful community impact. Discover how our innovations in ecosystem mapping and tracking can empower your community to thrive.

Picture of About the Author: Alex Derr, MPA
About the Author: Alex Derr, MPA

Alex is Director of Marketing & Communications at Visible Network Labs. His interests include public policy, environmental conservation, and the intersection of grassroots advocacy and digital communication strategies.

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A template to map the connections and interactions between key stakeholders in your community.

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