Most likely when you hear the work “wiki” you think of Wikipedia. Wikipedia, as you probably know, is a wildly popular online encyclopedia. If you haven’t integrated Wikipedia into your daily live you are really missing out, but that isn’t the topic of this post. This post is about the role of wikis in the workplace.
At the core a wiki is a text management system that allows people to create, edit, and share articles online. A wiki can be used for many things, not just encyclopedic content. For example, one common use of wikis is to create online help documentation. The wiki is the best choice to store many kinds of company knowledge because it flexible, accessible, and it maintains revision history.
The storage and sharing of company knowledge is critical to the success of any business. Employees must know processes, procedures, policies, and information each day to accomplish their work. If a person quits or calls in sick the other employees must have the information they need to compensate for the missing team member. If your office is like most offices, the vast majority of this information is stored in the heads of a few key employees. This is clearly not the most effective solution. Any office must have a persistent and accessible method of storing this critical information.
A wiki is the perfect solution to this problem. By creating a secure company-wide wiki you and your employees can begin to document their job and share their knowledge. Policies can be shared more easily, processes that are only known by few can be performed by many, and everyone can learn new skills that will enhance the value of themselves and the company.
We use a wiki at Atlas Bay for a variety of purposes. One of the most important uses of a wiki for us is to document technical processes. By storing this information in our wiki there is no need for multiple people to figure out the same problem. Additionally, when we must perform a task again after many months of learning the task we can simply read our wikis for any procedures and notes regarding the task.
Another use of our wiki is software specification documentation. When working on a new project we work closely with a customer to determine exactly what they are looking for and what their needs are. By using our company wiki to to store this data, each person working on that project team has constant access to that information and can make updates as need.
I strongly recommend that your company utilize a wiki and begin to centralize your company knowledge. The process is simple and affordable. Your wiki will start out small, but over time it will grow organically into a large an useful collection of information that will increase the effectiveness of your business.