8 Things You Can Do With an Enterprise Wiki
Many people think Wikipedia when they hear the word wiki, but there are multiple ways to use a wiki within an organization that are very different from Wikipedia, and more strongly aligned with the day to day activities, needs, and goals in a work environment.
Let's look at eight ways a wiki can help you readjust your valuable time to get more of your essential work done, spend less time on meetings and redundant activities, and more efficiently assemble, refine and reuse valuable information.
1. Meeting Agendas
Instead of emailing your meeting agenda as an attachment, put it on a wiki page and email a link to the page to your team. The problem with emailing an agenda is that whenever someone needs to make a change, they'll email you to request it, thus adding another message to your inbox, another piece of busywork, and another email to send out with the revised agenda. When you post the draft on a wiki page, members of your team can directly make changes as needed, and discuss the agenda items online before the meeting. Often, people will make decisions about some of those items before the meeting, this shortening the meeting itself.
2. Meeting Minutes, and Action Items
Once people are used to assembling the agenda on the wiki, take minutes there as well. It's easy to simply edit the agenda page to add minutes to each item. Encourage everyone present in the meeting to help write the minutes. When one person is designated to take minutes, you have one less person actively contributing to the meeting, because that person is scrambling to document what's being said. When everyone contributes, you get a more comprehensive picture of what was discussed, and each person spends a much shorter amount of time contributing to minutes. (10-15 minutes, in my experience). Also, when people are on the wiki contributing to minutes, they can maintain a list of action items and check off items as they're completed, which helps when drafting the agenda for the next meeting.
3. Project Management
Meeting agendas, minutes, and action items lay the groundwork for using the wiki as a project management tool. Once you're discussing and deciding on projects, keeping minutes, and tracking progress via action items, you just have to add a few more items to the wiki in order to manage your projects in one place. For example, if one action item is to assemble a project proposal for a client, draft that proposal right on the wiki. People are already in the mindset to use the wiki, so assembling the proposal, reviewing and revising it together, and getting approvals can all be done on the wiki, which saves a lot of back-and-forth email, confusion about attachments, and time wasted.
4. Gather Input
Lets say you need input from a dozen people on that project proposal. Give the appropriate people permissions to read and edit the page, then send out an email asking for input, and include a link to the page. If you've given people access to both read and edit the page, they'll be able to directly edit the contents of the proposal. Other might only have permissions to read the page, so they can add comments below the body of the proposal, but not edit it directly. This is much more efficient because everyone involved can see the latest version of the document, including all previous revisions and comments, thus saving you the effort and time involved in reconciling multiple, redundant edits that would be made to copies of the proposal sent by email.
5. Build Documentation
This is great for software developers and technical writers, because they can build drafts of documentation that incorporate the latest technical details that the software developers can offer, and technical writers can focus on maintaining a destination for documentation, discussion and Q&A in an ongoing fashion instead of racing to publish an isolated piece of documentation each time a new edition of software is released.
6. Assemble and Reuse Information
As the wiki is used to build and maintain project proposals, documents, and other reusable pieces of information, the process of creating future versions becomes easier. For example, an urban planning firm could reuse standard elements of an earlier proposal, such as definitions of key terms, product specifications, and legal codes when preparing a new proposal for a similar project.
7. Employee Handbook
An organization's wiki is an ideal place to provide general-use information to an internal audience. For example, the human resources department might publish the employee handbook on the wiki. Pages containing policies would only be editable by HR staff, but employees could use the comment feature to ask non-confidential questions, get clarifications, or suggest improvements. HR staff could respond via the comments, thus answering an employee's question and providing an answer anyone else with the same question could see. This cuts down on repetitive questions email to HR staff. Also, whenever HR staff need to update the handbook, the comments, questions, and suggestions present in the comments on each policy would directly let them know what needs to be updated. Another benefit: publishing the handbook on the wiki provides employees with the most up to date version while saving tons (literally) of paper, and reducing confusion about which PDF version of the handbook is the latest. Whatever people see on the wiki is the latest version, by default.
8. Knowledge Base
The previous seven wiki uses are internal-facing. Now, let's look at how a company can use a wiki in an externally-facing manner. Westnet, an Australian telecom company, uses a wiki for its MyHelp customer support knowledge base. This is visible to the public, and customers can find setup instructions for a cable modem or TV set-top box, frequently asked questions, and news about the company's services. They're also allowed to directly contribute to knowledge base articles once they register for an account. Articles are moderated by Westnet staff to ensure the quality and accuracy of information submitted. This allows the company to build a robust help system where customers can help ensure that information is up to date, help other customers, and build a stronger relationship with customers that helps increase satisfaction.
What are you using a wiki for? Why not post a comment?