Knowledgeable, informed employees build successful companies. The question is, how can you get that knowledge out of employees’ heads and distributed to the wider team?
One way to do so is with a corporate wiki. Wikis have existed for a while, but only recently have companies adopted them for internal knowledge-sharing. But wikis don’t build themselves; on teams that aren’t willing to invest time in them, they may create more confusion.
The alternative is doing it the old-fashioned way: Employees ask each other questions as they come up. But that method pulls people away from their work and, when an employee leaves, may result in lost knowledge.
Is a corporate wiki right for your business? Find out by asking yourself these questions:
1. How much does the organization of knowledge matter?
Some companies simply have more knowledge to organize than others. A lawn care company, for example, might not need much more than a customer address book and accounting documents.
Contrast that with a law firm. Misplacing an affidavit or pre-trial document could be disastrous to a client’s case. Across a few dozen clients, there might be a warehouse’s worth of documents to organize.
Corporate wikis are easily organized and searchable. Because they’re accessible by the entire team, employees can update and recategorize old pages. And because corporate wikis are digital and cloud-hosted, there’s no risk of information getting lost.
2. What tools must be synced?
The typical enterprise uses 91 marketing cloud services, not to mention those associated with other departments. On teams that use a lot of tools, integrations are critical.
Does your company use Slack for communication? Do you have important documents stored on Google Drive? Does your sales team live in Salesforce?
Many corporate wikis integrate with all those tools and more. When in doubt, ask: A provider may be willing to develop a new integration if it would help them close a sale.
3. How important is collaboration?
Three in four employees believe collaboration and teamwork are important in the workplace. With that said, some roles and teams are more self-guided than others.
A freelance writer may only need to communicate with one editor about his or her work. But on a highly collaborative team, knowledge must be shared freely. Otherwise, operations may grind to a halt.
Remote work has made collaboration even more challenging and critical. Employees in different locations are much more likely to miscommunicate than those sitting next to each other.
Corporate wikis facilitate collaboration from anywhere. Teams using them can discuss, collaborate, and communicate no matter how far they are apart.
4. Is oversight important?
Because everyone can share and edit the content within them, corporate wikis require oversight. Some contributions may be more professional or accurate than others, creating inconsistencies.
Before implementing a corporate wiki, it’s important to appoint an internal content manager. This person may also be in charge of external content, like a content marketer, or be a subject-matter expert.
The biggest benefit — and the biggest pitfall — of a corporate wiki is its collaborative nature. Ask the manager you appoint to set some ground rules: In what situations should a page be revised? In what situations should it be left alone? How can workers know whether they’re qualified to make changes?
5. How tech-savvy is the team?
Corporate wikis are digital tools. Teams with members who struggle to navigate software might want to think twice before investing in a corporate wiki.
While wikis are easy to set up, they do come with a learning curve. Different team members learn at different speeds and in different ways.
To ensure employees know how to use a corporate wiki, you’ll need to set up a corporate training session. Check your training budget and your team members’ schedules. Both in terms of time and money, make sure you can accommodate at least two training sessions.
If your employees have tech skills but sometimes struggle with motivation, you might also need to budget for incentives. Use small awards, like “Most pages created” or “Most valuable contribution,” paired with gift cards to encourage corporate wiki use.
6. What proportion of knowledge is sensitive?
Remember, corporate wikis are searchable. Before investing in one, ask yourself how much of your company’s knowledge is sensitive information. You might not want your customers’ credit card numbers searchable by the entire company, for example.
Some corporate wikis employ a practice known as “data masking.” Any information that fits a certain mold is automatically stripped or obfuscated before being uploaded with this process. Data masking is ideal for financial, healthcare, and business strategy details you need to keep private.
The bottom line is, you get out of a corporate wiki what you put in. If you’re willing to curate content as a team and invest in training, it’s a great choice for managing your company’s knowledge.
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