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Must-Follow Best Practices to Create an Internal Wiki for Your Company

by ClickHelp — professional help authoring tool

In any company, there is always a standard set of questions the employees usually ask their boss, colleagues, HR, or accounting specialists. A large group of these frequently asked questions (FAQs) refers to HR issues as it concerns the internal code of conduct: regular working hours, the possibility of ‘flexible working,’ the so-called ‘non-traditional business hours,’ dress code, communication rules (the way people should address each other — by first name or surname), etc. The other group refers to ‘money matters’ as it mostly concerns the payment policy: the way sick (maternity) leave is paid, information about the benefits, types of compensation provided for the employees (like travel expenses, etc.).

All the above questions are of general nature and can be easily answered. Specific questions may also arise which refer to concrete work processes and procedures. Leaving them unanswered results in overall inefficiency (projects ‘get stuck,’ customers leave). As your company grows, more and more employees come up with more and more typical questions which need clarification. This causes informational ‘traffic jams’ and is a source of irritation for those who have to answer the same questions repeatedly. If your company faces such challenges, an internal wiki can be a good solution.

What Is an Internal Wiki?

An internal wiki is an information platform with increased searchability as it is developed for the needs of your company. It is a tool that can enhance your team’s performance by saving time and clarifying simple as well as complex issues for all the employees, from newly hired to experienced ones. It is an internal information portal where all information is structured, systemized, and presented in an easily accessible and transparent way.

An internal wiki helps employees solve the problems they face every day, from joining the company to the day when they leave it.

Types of Wiki

An internal wiki is similar to a knowledge base; however, these two notions are not the same. The main difference is that an internal wiki is focused on collaboration between the employees as it encourages them to contribute to the internal wiki and to share their knowledge by publishing articles describing their work experience. A knowledge base is usually supervised and managed by a team of specialists who generate all the content.

An internal wiki can be compared to an encyclopedia.

Its name actually refers to Wikipedia built on the principle of collaboration and knowledge sharing (publishing, editing, and modifying information that helps your company move forward).

An internal wiki can be private and public. A private wiki is intended for the use of company employees only and cannot be accessed by other persons. A public wiki is a platform that can be accessed by unauthorized users like customers or potential clients. It is intended for co-operation and can be used not only for informational but for marketing purposes as well.

A wiki can be scaled from a product wiki to a company wiki. In the first case, it incorporates all the information about a product, while in the second, it encompasses all the knowledge accumulated by a company.

A special wiki can be created for a team working on a specific project. A team wiki is used to facilitate the work of a group of specialists who frequently use the same information, documents, and materials. They can also contribute new documents and enlarge their team wiki, which can later be integrated into a larger company knowledge base.

A partner wiki is a partner depository that can be accessed if you are authorized by a partner company. Such co-operation occurs when partners join their efforts to implement one strategy or project.

Reasons to Have an Internal Wiki in a Company

Here are some of the reasons why creating an internal wiki is necessary for your company:

  • Time and effort saving. An internal wiki saves time that is otherwise wasted on information search. Besides, while working on different projects, different teams often duplicate work. As a result, a large amount of important information is stored separately on different PCs. An internal wiki helps to optimize work. Nothing is done in vain, lost, or wasted if there is a unified knowledge base. All effort is economized. This concerns searching for important and urgently needed documents like memos, MoMs, design documentation, standard operating procedures (SOPs), or just ‘that short thing I wrote last month.’
  • Onboarding. It is often time-taking for new employees to become part of a team. As a rule, when new people are hired, they are given some time to get immersed in the workflow. During this ‘acquaintance’ period, they work as if in ‘stand-by’ mode, trying to learn from their colleagues who are often reluctant to share their experiences. An internal wiki enhances collaboration and optimizes the onboarding period. As a result, new employees start working faster as they get access to the company knowledge base without bothering their boss or colleagues with simple but numerous questions.
  • Accumulation and ‘seamless’ transfer of company knowledge. As your business develops, more and more knowledge is accumulated. A wiki is the best means of storage as it ensures sharing, access to, and search for information. When an experienced employee leaves your company, his/her functions can be easily performed by a new hire who can get access to the predecessor’s knowledge via an internal wiki. This will make the company’s processes more sustainable.

Best Practices to Create an Internal Wiki

The online market offers a wide range of internal wiki tools, and it is really hard to choose one. An important criterion while selecting the product is that the tool must be cloud-based. This will save you the trouble of arranging the internal storage of information. Once you have bought a wiki tool, you can start creating a wiki for your company.

The next step is filling your wiki with content. You can either write or import it. Most companies focus on the following information:

  • History of the company, mission, and vision statement;
  • Company structure (it will be best if illustrated with an organizational chart);
  • Description of work processes (illustrated with flow charts and diagrams);
  • Teams across departments (this information is needed to enhance collaboration between individual employees and across teams);
  • Clients and projects (this helps the new hires to position the company on the virtual business map);
  • Work policies, code of conduct, etc.

Reviewing content is a step that can be reiterated. The information is constantly adjusted for new needs and projects. This must be reflected in the wiki. Some materials can be posted but not finalized. In this case, they can be assigned the following status: Draft, Ready for Review, or In Progress. This will help the users understand that this text is published for consideration or review and can be changed if some mistakes are spotted. Only when the text has been approved can it get the Published status.

Must-Have Features of an Internal Wiki

A good wiki tool must have the following features:

  • Wiki templates that will save time when publishing new documents;
  • An online text editor similar to MS Word that will make things easier for contributors and editors of materials;
  • A search engine;
  • Option of managing users: adding, deleting users, and assigning roles (writers, editors, etc.);
  • Option to customize the wiki;
  • Multiple language support (in case you are a multinational company based in different parts of the world or your partners come from abroad);
  • Context help;
  • Security and authorization system;
  • In-depth reports (this feature will help you figure out which documents/texts/materials are most/least popular and adjust your wiki accordingly).

Conclusion

You may say that you can do without an internal wiki. Of course, you can, but if you want your company to grow and develop, this will require more workforce. Growth and development mean a transfer of knowledge, which is impossible without sharing information. A wiki is a tool that will ensure knowledge transfer and sharing in your company.

Good luck with your technical writing!
ClickHelp Team
Author, host and deliver documentation across platforms and devices

Originally published at https://clickhelp.com.

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