Making business sense of networks and community

We are platform agnostic but focus on owned communities for customers, members, partners, and employees. We believe that to make an effective, successful social space, functionality is less important than truly understanding your audience members, their needs and their motivations for choosing to spend time on your platform. If you can link your business processes to their key motivations, you can focus your efforts in areas to achieve lasting success.

Shilbrook offers a wide range of services including:

    Audience research    Workshops with senior management    Interviews and 121s with senior management and department heads    Helping the project sponsor develop the business case    Identification of project champions    Training project champions    Drafting and assisting champions to draft policies, processes and plans to support the community    Advice on configuration of the platform    Recommendations on resourcing the community management    Support on launch    Mentoring the community management

A key aspect of this is ‘social learning’ – using the platform the client has chosen to work with key project champions (internally, from customer-facing departments, and externally, active members known to be enthusiastic about online engagement), to explore the opportunities and challenges that the platform offers, and to develop the policies, plans and practices that will be needed. These social learning programmes will be tailored to the client, and Shilbrook consultants are continually on hand to prompt, provoke and persuade participants to engage with the topics put up for discussion.

$150 - $199 / hr
2 - 9
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Oxford, United Kingdom
  • 1 Marlborough Court, Duke St.
    Oxford OX2 0QT
    United Kingdom


Key clients: 

The British Medical Association, the Football Association, British American Tobacco, the Association for Project Management, the Caravan Club, British Psychological Society.


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Professional Development Organization Strategic Business Consulting

“They have an excellent communication style that really wins people over.”

Willing to refer: 
The Project
Project summary: 

Shilbrook assisted in the brainstorming of strategies for the creation of deep virtual communities. The team hosted 2 workshops to analyze the topic and produced reports based on what was discussed.

The Reviewer
501-1000 Employees
London, United Kingdom
Head of Sectors & Communities, Nonprofit Organization
The Review
Feedback summary: 

Shilbrook’s extensive experience working with nonprofit organizations proved instrumental to the success of the project. With the team’s guidance, the community has expanded by 14,000 users in 18 months.

A Clutch analyst personally interviewed this client over the phone. Below is an edited transcript.


Could you briefly describe your company?

We’re a professional engineering institution with 155,000 members worldwide. These are engineers of different ages who want to be part of this professional association, this professional institution. We’ve been in existence for 140 years. We’re essentially a membership and knowledge organization. We look after our members by helping them with their career development and professional development.

The other side of the institution is called Knowledge, and that’s a publishing business. It publishes a mixture of print and online content ranging from academic journals and academic articles to deep technical pieces on different aspects of engineering that are more practitioners focused.

What is your position in your organization?

I am head of sectors and communities. I’m a departmental head working for the Director of Knowledge.


What were your initial business goals for initiating the project with Shilbrook Associates?

We basically needed to move the organization from solely allowing engineers and members to meet physically to developing a much elaborate online and virtual environment. We wanted to develop international communities. We needed some help around how we developed virtual communities using the tools that are out there, and also different approaches to get people to participate and engage online content.

Strategically, we knew that we wanted to develop deep virtual communities. We knew we could do so much more virtually by tapping into all of the engineers around the world. We can’t just have people meeting face-to-face and have that be the end of it. We needed to embark on a completely new strategy. That strategy encompassed the selection of a new talk, a new solution. Then we could work around adoption and engagement and how we mobilize the membership around that content in supporting and working with our communities.

How did you select Shilbrook Associates as your solution partner?

Some of them used to work for Sift, which is a consultancy. They had originally been working with us through Sift. And it was when they worked at Sift that we actually chose another software provider, another solution provider based in the U.S. It wasn’t until we began contemplated this project that I reconnected with them, but they were one of my top choices because I know the caliber of work they deliver.


Could you describe the scope project in terms of it components: did it involve custom design, development, support, training, etc.?

The project that they worked with us on has been purely a consulting piece of work. And so it hasn’t involved any public software or anything. We set out some goals around needing to increase engagement and adoption. We wanted to bring together the quite disparate parts of the organization into a room and I used them to facilitate a workshop with our content people and others to help devise a strategy for us to increase adoption rates. The goals were very much around what can we do as a whole in terms of providing more content for communities. What do we need to do to make these communities vibrant and so they set very broad outlines and ran a couple of workshops with us.

Could you give me a sense of the size of this initiative in either monetary terms or the number of personnel delegates to the project?

I worked only with one of their consultants. I’m sure there was support staff involved, but the consultations only involved one of them.

In terms of size, it wasn’t an enormous piece of work. It was finished in probably about four days. They did a day of preparation, ran two workshops and then wrote everything up. They did an excellent job and had got us pointing in the right direction.


In terms of the project results, could you share any statistics or metrics that would demonstrate the effectiveness of their work?

If we look at the number of registrants that are now coming in to the system since their work, we have increased significantly the number of registered users coming in to join our communities. We began with zero approximately 18 months ago. We’re now at 14,000 and it’s the middle of September. The whole thing began in May 2012. I haven’t really analyzed the results outside of that statistic each month. After the things we’ve put in place following their work, the numbers have gone up. Repeat visits to the website and engagement levels also lead me to believe that it was a great investment.

When working with Shilbrook Associates, was there anything you would consider unique or special about them as compared to some of their competitors?

I think the value they bring to the table is two-fold. One is their extensive experience built up over many years. The other is their in-depth knowledge of the not for profit sector and that includes charities, foundations and NGOs. Although they’ve also worked extensively with commercial organizations, their knowledge of what other not for profit organizations do is very relevant, because we’re not a commercial enterprise. We are a not for profit. That doesn’t mean we don’t try to make a profit, because we certainly do. We need to generate funds in order to support and sustain activities carried out by the institution, including scholarships, funding our local networks, funding our schools, programs, events, etc.

In retrospect, are there any areas that you feel they could have improved upon or that you as the client might do differently prior to initiating this type of project?

No, I don’t think there’s anything that they could have done differently. In hindsight, I should have gotten more of our senior management involved in elements of our workshop so that they could participate in the work. That might have helped them internalize our strategic goals in a more insightful and realistic manner. We had a number of senior managers there and staff involved at the operating level, but I didn’t have enough of the senior level executives in there.

Now in terms of Shilbrook Associates, they’re very professional. They’re very good. They have an excellent communication style that really wins people over. They accomplished all that was expected and more.

Overall Score I was extremely happy and pleased with their piece of work. And it’s a relationship I want to continue going forward.
  • 5.0 Scheduling
    They’re always on time. Sometimes they meet deadlines early with extremely high quality work.
  • 4.0 Cost
    Value / within estimates
  • 4.0 Quality
    Service & deliverables
  • 5.0 NPS
    Willing to refer
    Indeed, I would. I would be very happy to.