Most people have used Wikipedia before, and many people haven’t used any other wiki before and many people probably don’t understand what ‘wiki’ means. A wiki is a website that caters for open collaboration, allowing many people to make changes to single documents. In Wikipedia’s case, this concept is applied to an online encyclopaedia, changes can be made by anyone.
The question here is, how can a wiki be used by a company to better it’s productivity and overall workflow? There’s a number of potential uses of Wiki’s for businesses, project management, tech support, research and development, event planning, reference material, CRM and collaborative document production to name a few.
One of the major ideas of wiki’s is to use it to replace email in project collaboration. Many people receive hundreds of emails every day that they need to sort through for their job. On top of this, when there is a large (or even small) number of people working on a project and emailing it between each other, everyone will always have a different version of the project from others, this is the problem. Wiki’s can replace email in this instance, a wiki page could be created, where every user can edit it at the same time as well as seeing what others are writing, this is the solution.
There’s a pretty cool video promoting Microsoft Sharepoint, it shows a great illustration of this.
Many companies now use wikis for their business purposes, companies like SAP, Sun Microsystems, Sony Ericsson and IBM. It has been reported that Pixar use a wiki for managing film production, for example, “to help coordinate new computerized animation tools for the studio’s planned 2008 release of a film called “WALL-E.”
In a similar way, Walt Disney have a wiki setup in some parts of the company. Eric Freeman from Disney started using Wikis as early as in 2000, when they used a ‘development’ wiki for an engineering team. After that project was over and he was moved to research and development team, he setup a new wiki and after just two weeks he reported that he had seen a ‘a great amount of activity on the Twiki, in fact it has quickly become the central resource for ideas, notes, “how tos”, specs, and brainstorming.’
Robert de Forest, also used a Wiki at Disney in 2003 and he noted, ‘I’m surprised at how well most of the company is accepting the wiki. There are still a lot of people who don’t understand it, and a lot who reject it outright.’ Here he has pointed out one of the issues relating to using wikis in the Enterprise, which is people not accepting it, or refusing to become a part of the community. This is can be purely because people in general don’t like change, but also because some people may be reluctant to contribute in fear they could make mistakes and be corrected.
For probably the last couple years, my church’s tech team has had a wiki page setup that we have used for describing hardware, software, locations, and providing ‘how to’ manuals for regular tasks, I’ve written some of this wiki too. I’ve found there’s actually a lot of helpful info on the wiki, such links to product manuals, warranty expiry dates for computers, how to record audio and upload podcasts.
Could a wiki be the solution to the collaboration issues that your team is facing? There are many wiki platforms that are available for use!