Wikis for Enterprise

New entrants to the social media sphere are getting their feet wet, googly-eyed while sorting through the hype and determining what to leverage and how.

autom8 iconFor business communicators keen on emerging web-based technologies and their various applications to existing processes within the enterprise, a good starting point would be to look at how wikis (not blogs) are being leveraged for internal collaboration, particularly when managing projects involving several players in a team.

This post is geared to help familiarize communicators with the potential of using wikis as a collaborative tool within their organization.

Blogs vs. Wikis 
Blogs are great vehicles for enhancing external marketing and communications efforts, managing brand awareness/reputation, improving lead generation, etc.

Wikis, on the other hand, can be an efficient platform for streamlining processes within the enterprise, either for a given operational unit (e.g., marketing or corporate communications) or for cross-functional collaboration (e.g., between marketing and IT).

Advantages

  • Streamlined communication. Imagine eliminating more than half of your day-to-day project-related email communiqués that tend to clog your inbox.
  • Virtual access. Users can easily access a wiki online through secure login, view/modify content on the fly and track what others are doing with the content.
  • Archiving ease. Each page revision is kept as a version. Hence, a previous instance of a given page is archived automatically and can be easily accessed.
  • Collaborative input and validation. Wikis are an open content management system since every user has a say and is able to input, modify and vet content accordingly.

autom8 iconBest Practices
A recent wiki-related project has prompted me to jot down some key notes to keep in mind. The same best practices are observed in project management.

  • Define scope. If you don’t define this from the get-go, you’ll easily end up moving out of scope and missing your target deliverable.
  • Establish a timeline. Be clear on mapping out a critical path for your wiki-driven project. A drop-dead completion date will serve to align the wiki’s life cycle with the project.
  • Identify content owners. While wikis are indeed an open platform, users’ settings should be configured so that there is at least one overall owner or point of contact assigned for a given wiki page/section. The onus is on this person to oversee the progress of their respective content entity and keep a pulse on all other entities related to their content.
  • Unified moderation policy. This point is subjective and at times almost impossible to map out and implement, since each user has their own style and approach for managing content. However, at best, a set of over-arching rules should be enforced and observed for content modification and internal collaboration among team members. These rules are based largely on common sense (e.g., refraining from using inappropriate language, offensive personal attacks, airing dirty laundry, etc.) Sound familiar?

Is your organization using wikis? What have you observed and found helpful?

Additional Sources on Wikis

8 thoughts on “Wikis for Enterprise

  1. Excellent introduction to wikis, a tool that is getting more and more used in any kind of activity that requires team work, specially in Project Management, but also in Education and Knowledge and Contents Management. Congratulations, Autom.

    Note: I would like to add and additional visual source for those who are unaware of wikis (Wikis in Plain English – video) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-dnL00TdmLY

    Thanks for this post.

  2. I never really realised the value of the wikis except for the wikipedia. It is true that it saves a lot of efforts through collaboration, and the value it carries through archiving stuff. Good work autom 🙂

  3. Francisco/Fadi – I often wonder to what extent wikis are being used by organizations and to what extent they incorporate this vehicle into their interal processes. I got motivated to doing a quick piece on this after seeing what Socialtext (http://www.socialtext.com/) offers in terms of collaboration tools like wiki services for enterprise.

    If either one of you comes across other companies similar to Socialtext, pls. let me know. Be interesting to review and compare.

    Great week-end to you both! Autom

  4. Hey Autom, it would be really interesting to learn about companies who put wiki to use and benefitted from it. I don’t have any success stories on my mind. I will let you know if I find anything, and please keep me posted when you finish your research.

  5. Autom,
    This is a really useful article; you have certainly made some useful points about wikis in the enterprise.
    I have certainly used wikis in the past and can advocate their benefits to no end. Especially if your organization is agile and is willing to use open source platforms. I have used wikis quite effectively for storyboarding and (decentralized) documents management.
    However, there are still a lot of organizations that are not comfortable with wikis. Especially if they have invested heavily over the years in traditional content management systems and now cannot justify the switch to open source wikis that are have little or no support from the community. The hosted wikis are just too expensive – with Socialtext charging its customers over 200,000USD for a large deployment.
    Perhaps the best way then, to justify this change is with the three most important drivers.
    1. People – what are the needs of your employees and customers?
    2. Information – is your information secure only in legacy CMS’ or can it be ported out? How will this change the way in which it is created/read/updated or deleted?
    3. Technologies – Can your organization disinvest in legacy solutions and experiment with open source wikis? How will this impact your strategic ICT spend on maintaining the integrity of your enterprise architecture?

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