Wiki - an Important Communication Tool

Quite a few teams start with a Wiki style system - eg. MediaWiki. Wiki’s are great as a starting point for teams to capture their own knowledge, whilst you work out what information you want to capture for the overall IT department. Here are some tips to make the most out of a Wiki in your company and team.

Starting with a blank slate can be hard, but you can ask the teams to start capturing all their important and daily used information in one place. You can also ask teams to define what their dependencies are, try to describe in simple terms the services they offer and some guidelines on how to ask for those services.

Once each team has some idea of what they want to communicate, you can look for patterns in the information captured and look for some common ways to present the information. Look for common presentation styles and effective ways of sharing information at the right levels.

Once you have a basic understanding of what information you need and how you want it structured, you may find a simple wiki a bit limited, or you may be looking for something that integrates more with other systems (i.e. can pull or display reports and other info from different systems in the department).

There are lots of more advanced systems that offer more than just a basic wiki, such as

Atlassian Confluence

A great tool for communication, with lots of social media style tools to help track what is going on with your knowledge base.

If you have Jira, Geenhopper or other issue tracking product, then Confluence is gives a lot of value when integrating. Confluence is pretty simple to use, even for those who are not overly technical, so it helps business analysts and project managers get involved with creating and maintaining the knowledge.

Liferay Portal

A great open source product that is also fairly simple to use and has lots of added features for managing and presenting information.

I have also used Microsoft Sharepoint, although I treat this more as an extension to Microsoft Office than a feature full knowledge base. You can do some nice simple things with Sharepoint, but dont get too big or too carried away or you’ll probably hang yourself. Unless you want to spend a lot of money, stay away from custom developed sharepoint sites.

Thank you.

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