We have summarized in our weblog 111 good reasons for using an enterprise wiki. But how can such a system blossom and show its added value and Return on Investment? What are some concrete examples of how companies can implement an enterprise wiki? Which possible uses make sense? Which of them are truly useful? And which of them can actually improve your efficiency?
We have collected 66 ways to use wikis in organizations. Here are the first 22.
1. Knowledge sharing
An enterprise wiki can serve as a repository for answers to those always recurring but never documented problems encountered in a firm. For example, where does an employee find out how much unused vacation time he has? Where is parking allowed or not allowed on the company property? What is the best way to get to the company by car or public transport?
2. Collaborative document editing
When documents such as customer offers are collaboratively developed and edited, the latest versions are readily available to anyone with access rights: there's no need to send files to and fro. The development of such documents from creative conception to completion can be accelerated dramatically by a wiki.
3. Generate ideas and distribute information about them
The next time a good idea comes up during a small-group brainstorming session, the participants can publish the idea in the wiki and then send an e-mail to colleagues asking them to take a look at it and add more ideas to the document.
4. Quality management
The guidelines and established procedures that are often available only in Word documents and similar formats can be collected in a Wiki, described, and tagged with keywords to make them easier to find. If necessary, employees can use workflows to ensure that changes made by employees aren't visible until this is specifically authorized or to ensure the following of controlled or required processes (e.g., for ISO-certified processes).
Existing documentation and handbooks can be inserted “as is” into wiki documents or “wikified” in order to integrate them more directly into Wiki-technology, making them easier to find and link to. These documents can then be exported as PDF or Word documents.
6. Tutorials and instructions
It makes a lot of sense to collect guides and instructions in a central location. Moreover, every employee should be encouraged to make comments and suggestions for the improvement of work processes.
7. Dynamic FAQs
Project members can document customer questions so that every employee has quick and easy access to those questions through a centralized search machine to see those questions. The solutions to the customer problems can also be made available in a wiki, allowing the support team members to find and provide the correct answers without spending time or effort searching for new versions of the same answer. The support team members receive write privileges allowing them to add further information as it is collected.
8. Project management and organization
Project documentation can be made centrally available through a wiki. Items such as arrangements and agreements with customers, responsibility definitions, project checklists and so on belong here. As each project receives its own area, the wiki can be used as a virtual project room.
9. Wiki as an intranet
Not only can a wiki replace HTML-based intranets, it can also eliminate the so-called One Administrator's Syndrome that can arise when the intranet-CMS is understood and used by only a few employees.
10. Discard and administer documents
An enterprise wiki allows documents to be centrally maintained, thereby performing a DMS function. It can be embedded as a net drive and allows versioning through external data formats.
11. Email discussions can be presented in a wiki
If email surveys and discussions are linked in a wiki, not only are the contents up to date and centrally documented, but the amount of email traffic is reduced.
12. Internal news
Company internal newsletters, event announcements, new employee introductions: a wiki enables the presentation of countless forms of internal information that are always available to everyone in their most up-to-date version.
13. CEO blog
Once the company's managers realize how easy it is to set up and maintain a wiki blog, they can share their valuable experience and knowledge of the daily workings of the firm with all employees.
14. Blogs for employees, projects, and departments
Workers have the chance to publish their own news or report project progress. The firm should establish standards and provide examples.
15. News monitoring
If your competitor's web sites offer RSS feeds, these can be integrated into a wiki page so that anyone at any time can see the competition's latest news. Wiki charts can provide useful graphical depictions of what the competitors are up to.
16. Competition monitoring and analyses
An enterprise wiki is the right place to systematically organize and analyse information concerning the competition as well as to evaluate that information.
17. Blog and news roll
RSS feeds don't just allow news published on the web to be integrated; blogs and news relevant to the firm and field can also be piped directly to your employees, who can then get exposure to important current opinions and trade articles.
18. Reports for internal as well as external target groups
Statistics, evaluations, and figures that are interesting and relevant for all employees, or even for only certain departments, should be made available through the wiki as reports. This allows a history of reports to exist (and grow as new interpretations of this need arise). This makes it easier to convince employees who produce reports that they are no longer limited to PDF, Word, PowerPoint or Excel; they can work in the wiki and produce reports that encourage transparency and interactivity. Even if proprietary formats are used, the documents should still be stored in the wiki and communicated by hyperlinks; discussion can take place through centralized comments, which reduces the flood of email.
19. Internet pages to be published can be created by groups
A Wiki offers the chance to prepare to expand or relaunch the content of a firm's website and to ensure that the content has been agreed upon by everyone involved, and that other employees have had the chance to offer suggestions. Only after the feedback from all interested employees has been evaluated will the website be updated (as usual) through the CMS.
20. Wiki as an extranet
An extranet based on an enterprise wiki allows customers, suppliers and other interested partners to share information about co-operation and project co-ordination (this information is divided into different areas protected by access privileges). To develop this it is best to actively encourage the external partners to take a look at the information and allow them to participate in deciding the expansion of any such collaboration.
21. Idea management
When a wiki is used as a platform to collect and evaluate ideas, its real strength can be brought to bear by granting access to as many employees as possible, who can then comment on, add to and evaluate the ideas. This helps the firm by allowing it to take advantage of the knowledge, the constructive criticism and the creativity of all its employees.
22. Press mirror
Many firms regularly and systematically scan the internet for news that concerns them. Maintaining a press mirror in the enterprise wiki can grease the wheels for discussion and agreement and - when necessary - enables the firm to quickly and collaboratively develop a fast reaction or other countermeasures in response to, for example, criticism of the firm.
In the follow-up article of our three-part series you will find 22 more recommendations for how to use a wiki in your company.
Are you considering introducing a wiki? Are you evaluating promising software? Do you need support with an up-and-running wiki project? We are experts in business communication and would be happy to consult with you, so please contact us. Further information on this topic can be found on our special page on enterprise wikis.
Architecture of a Wiki-Project: Elements, Process, Approach, Rules
Architecture of a Wiki-Project: Customers’ Frequently Asked Questions
Factors for the Success of Wikis 1: Technology is important, but not King
Factors for the Success of Wikis 2: Organization is the Key
Factors for the Success of Wikis 3: Overcoming Resistance from the Company Culture