CoPs, Professional Development Support Employees, Bottom Line

CoPs, Professional Development Support Employees, Bottom Line



Written by: Anne Wright



Posted on 12.19.23

Smart companies understand that professional development benefits their bottom line.

Learning and development opportunities and programs help companies stay competitive, create a pipeline of leaders, encourage innovation and add workforce credibility, according to the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School. They also satisfy a top employee “want.”

Nine out of 10 surveyed employees said learning and development opportunities are vital to their job satisfaction and 90% said they are important when choosing a new job, reported a June 2022 survey by Crucial Learning of more than 1,000 learning leaders and employees.

Furthermore, 76% of employees agreed they were more likely to stay with a company that offers continuous training, another survey found. Employees told TalentLMS and the Society for Human Resources Management that companies can make training more effective by aligning them with job responsibilities, updating content more often and making learning more social. One way to accomplish this is through communities of practice (CoPs). CoPs bring employees with similar interests together informally to share knowledge and best practices, learn from one another and get to know each other.

CoPs Promote Learning and Development

As part of its growing learning and development initiative, Aptive launched several CoPs with the goals of helping employees feel more connected to one another and supported in their day-to-day roles, encouraging discussion and collaboration across lines of business and identifying best practices to streamline tasks. The CoPs join Aptive’s mentor program, internal learning and training portal and annual professional development stipend among the incentives designed to keep employees engaged, learning and interested in advancing their careers.

Five CoPs, which meet monthly, focus on project management, process improvement, change management, data and analytics and Jira — project management software that allows teams to organize, prioritize and track issues and projects. Additional teams may form as employees identify other topics of mutual interest.

To drill down into these broad areas, some CoPs formed subgroups to explore specific topics more closely. The data and analytics CoP, for example, includes groups on data stewardship; data visualization and reporting; research and study design; skills, development and support; and data operations and informatics.

Breaking Down Work Silos and More

Breaking down silos that people often work in so they can share their knowledge and experience is one of the benefits of CoPs, according to Michelle Winkler, PhD, MPH, a Data and Analytics CoP lead and senior associate on the Health Solutions team. Aptive’s CoPs are open to employees who are expert in their field or new to an area they want to learn more about.

Identifying best practices, another CoP function, “will make Aptive as a whole much more efficient because people will become better at their jobs,” said Dr. Winkler. “The third and biggest benefit of CoPs is that they advance people’s skillsets with training and knowledge sharing. The more we can advance skills for individual employees, the more we can drive innovation, especially in the data field.”

Aptive’s CoPs, which each have an executive sponsor in addition to staff leads, may invite internal and external guest speakers to address topics of great interest; discuss models and tools that make working with government clients more efficient; exchange lessons learned; or initiate cross-team collaboration projects. The Process Improvement CoP, for example, recently invited two Aptive employees who achieved Lean Six Sigma black belt status to share their experiences earning the certifications.

The Project Management CoP shared information and expertise on using certain tools, such as Smartsheet, Excel, Teams, Jira and SharePoint, to communicate deliverables and maximize client communication, according to Donna Jones, one of the Project Management CoP leads. A future topic of discussion will be balancing project management and business development, an expectation that is not often discussed or addressed, noted Jones.

Cross Pollination and Collaboration

A goal for the Data and Analytics CoP “is to create a framework to support data analytics for all lines of business,” said Dr. Winkler. “We want to continue to be a central hub of expertise to drive innovative data methodologies, serve as a resource for proposal development and provide guidance and professional training for our members to advance their skills.”

The CoP’s data stewardship team, for instance, is working on standardizing data management practices at Aptive and developing guidelines for data security and governance.

Aptive is also benefiting from an innovative collaboration with the Project Management CoP to recruit employees to lead volunteer initiatives through the company’s Aptive Cares program.

By helping to coordinate two major 2023 volunteer events and setting them up as actual projects with timelines and deliverables, Project Management CoP members gained hands on program management experience and earned points toward a PMP certification, according to Tara Murray, a senior associate who leads the Aptive Cares initiatives.

“It’s a win for the CoP to be able to provide real project management experience and a win for Aptive Cares and the company overall because it helps Aptive achieve a goal for the business and also gets more people to become involved,” said Murray.

The CoP partnership “is a perfect segue for anyone interested in getting a PMP,” said Eugenia Hart, a social media specialist and CoP participant. “You get to dip your toe into the project management pond to see if it’s something you enjoy, as well as staying in your current role and supporting Aptive Cares.”



Aptive provides expertise in strategic engagement, health solutions and digital transformation. We support some of the most innovative and inspiring programs across the government, helping to improve performance, connect with people and navigate change. Led by CEO Rachele Cooper, a Navy Veteran and aerospace engineer, Aptive is headquartered in Alexandria, Virginia. Our hundreds of employees across the country are committed to shaping the future as we have for the last decade. Connect with us at