Use a Wiki to Run Your Business More Efficiently

WikiWikis have been around for a while, but their application to individual business needs seems to be growing. Not only are wikis a great way to collect information, but they also allow for easier collaboration, version tracking and file management – all vital features for any type of client project or team-based work. Plus, there are many more uses that may be less obvious.

Why Use a Wiki

While there are certainly some great, feature-heavy and flexible project management tools out there, a good wiki (that’s set up well for the specific use) can compete with the best of them.

Some of the biggest benefits of using a wiki include:

  • Wikis are like a blank sheet of paper that you can fold, arrange and format in a way that suits you best.
  • Most wikis, because they don’t have the structure of a project management tool, have a very low learning curve.
  • A wiki can be a central location for all data related to a project or client that’s accessible from anywhere.
  • Wikis promote collaboration and reduce version issues.
  • Many wikis are free or very low cost.

How to Use a Wiki

Wikis can be used in so many ways, and the best part is the flexibility. Here are some ways you can use a wiki in your business.

Project Management

You can make a wiki an alternative to a project management tool that organizes client data, files and task lists. Many times, the custom setup and limited restrictions make a wiki more effective and less intimidating to use.

File Archive

Another common use for a wiki in business is as a repository for business files – meeting notes, agendas, calendars, event data, etc. Having one general location for these files that’s accessible by everyone can be instrumental in keeping the team on the same page.

Support

A wiki can be used publicly (with open or closed contributions), providing support documentation for software, or answers to frequently asked questions about your product or service.

Operations Guide

One of my favorite uses for a wiki is an operations guide. I have used wikis to document processes for my own business as well as my clients’ businesses. This can be valuable when you have a team working on similar tasks and need to keep everyone in sync. Plus, it’s great to have a guide already in place should you ever need someone to fill in for you without experiencing prolonged downtime.

Collaboration

You can use a wiki as a working space for in-development ideas – publications with multiple authors, collaborative projects with colleagues, or any endeavor that requires participation by more than one person.

Notebook

On an individual basis, you can use a wiki as your own private workspace where you brainstorm, collect links, make lists and generate new ideas.

What Wiki to Use

There are so many wiki tools available that it can take some time and quite a bit of research to find the wiki that best fits your needs. Click over to the second part of this series, Pick a Winner: How to Choose the Right Wiki for Your Business, which provides wiki-selection guidance, a list of wiki tools, as well as a useful wiki comparison site to help you narrow down your options.

Image credit: Stephanie Hofschlaeger

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  • http://www.billbolte.com bbolte

    I love wikis. I’m having a hard time convincing others in the company of their value though.

  • jgwebdesigner

    We use a wiki — however wiki’s are difficult when you work in a company with lots of 90s legacy users, who don’t like updating things and don’t like “centralized repositories of information”. How can you get people like such to see the value of a wiki?

  • http://www.billbolte.com bbolte

    @jgwebdesigner — exactly! nor do they understand it.

  • Nash

    Just goggled goggled in there and saw your web site there .Now these days many of the firms are using the software for there work .The firm should use the best softwares such as wiki.

  • Laneth

    I’m loving the idea of a wiki that spans several purposes, and can see it as something that one could, once adept at setting them up, pitch to clients for use in their intra-company record keeping & procedure manual setups. Best thing is, with minimal training, you can set it up and leave it with them to maintain themselves.

    Alyssa, I’m definitely looking forward to your follow-up article, as I’ll be taking your advice quite seriously – you have a complete wiki-n00b here :)

  • W2ttsy

    Atlassian have a starter license for JIRA and Confluence on at the moment. $10 per product for a 10 user license pack. And the proceeds go to charity! how any dev team can work without these products is a mystery to me. I use their product suite both at home and at work…

  • Matt

    Hello, and thanks for such a wonderful blog and post. My question, is that I want to start a wiki on companies in my industry, and the backbone of the wiki would be news feeds, forum commentary, and blog commentary that would all automatically feed from their separate sites, onto the wiki.

    So for example, if I went to the wiki, typed Company ‘X’ in the search, and their page came up, I would see every article ever posted on that company in a chronological order, and listed by date and title.

    Then if someone hit on a link, the story would come up, and any running commentary within the wiki would be listed below the story. Or if the reader followed the link of the story to the original source, they could read it there as well. Or read those comments for the story.

    I would also like to have a separate search engine per company that is listed, and an information block that could list some basic information about the company.(location, name, CEO, average salaries, benefits, etc.

    Finally, I would like to have a voting system as well that is very simple. Think Amazon.com style or Google shopping style. I just want a rating system for comments listed, stories listed, and for contributors. Most importantly, I want an RSS feed for each company listed in the wiki, so anyone could follow a company specifically. Needs to be simple and user friendly.